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Letter to the Editor: Replying to ‘On the subject of socialism’

Mr. Baxter [“On the subject of socialism,” May 22] makes my point about the general misunderstanding of the term socialism but misses the big picture. 

In one sentence, he acknowledges some forms of socialism have always been at the basis of our country and he references how the Founding Fathers were socialists when it came to “roads, postal service and defense.” Yet, Baxter still wraps up by declaring socialism is a four-letter word. He cannot have it both ways. I can only assume Baxter must be talking about degrees. 

Speaking of degrees, Walter E. Williams [“Millennials for socialism,” April 17] only cited two countries as his examples of socialism. He cited current-day Venezuela and Argentina under Peron. Yikes! Those are both examples of fascist dictatorships. Why did he not mention the countries with socialized healthcare since that seems to be the most pressing “socialism” issue of the day? 

I reject Baxter’s assumption that “socialism invariably turns into communism.” Ask Canadians if they believe they are on the road to communism. Baxter tries to equate a democratic socialist republic with collectivism. A collective would be something like a commune or a kibbutz. Have communes in Israel led that country down the road to communism? 

Baxter misunderstands that socialism demands “increased centralized power and means repressive laws that control almost everything we do.”  Again, it is a matter of degrees. Expanding access to healthcare does not necessarily require an expansion of government or the loss of individual freedoms, especially if private healthcare providers and insurers are retained. Expansion of government involves adding agencies or departments and increasing the number of government employees. Increasing the number of people covered by medical insurance requires no new agencies and no new employees.

Tennessee is a red state with a Republican governor. Yet, they offer free tuition to their community colleges. Those socialists calculated that their kids needed a better education if the state was going to be able to attract jobs. Meanwhile, Trump imposed tariffs on China which cost many American farmers their market. Trump has now proposed a $28 billion program to aid farmers hurt by his own trade policy. Isn’t that picking winners and losers. How is that not socialism? 

“Scary socialism” must be in the eye of the beholder. I would rather see more of my fellow Americans with healthcare coverage or able to afford college. 

Mr. Baxter missed the big picture. Politicians from one party are trying to gain an advantage by labeling their opponents with a term that many folks do not understand. It is about being afraid of a word instead of working on the social issues at hand. Mr. Baxter, we are all socialists and you are welcome. Be strong. Do not respond to the dog-whistle.

Thomas Buettner

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