I am bewildered about American reactions to socialism. Maybe it’s because we think it’s Communism without the fascist dictator. Having spent ten years living in a socialist country, what we had were higher taxes with free high-quality health care. No one was homeless. If you had no work, the government made sure you had at least a place to live and food to eat. Old people didn’t wind up homeless or freezing.

Even in socialist countries, there is always a free market in which I usually worked. We had fewer safety nets, but we got significantly higher pay. We paid taxes on it, of course.

Taxes were more acceptable because for the money we paid, we got something back.

Here, in wild mid-central Massachusetts, we pay huge property taxes (we didn’t pay property taxes at all — it was all income taxes) as well as income taxes and state income taxes and sometimes town or city income taxes — and we get nothing. Literally nothing. We have no town water or sewage or trash collection. We pay for all of that ourselves. We have no streetlights, no sidewalks. We don’t have a SINGLE vaccination site in the entire county. Not ONE.

The only the town does for us is plow the road when it snows, and every few years, they repave. We get lousy Wi-Fi — and we have NO choice about what we get or from whom. We pay a very high price for it too — $85/month just for Wi-Fi.

That’s it. That’s what we get for all those income taxes plus $6000 per year for property taxes.

I paid more taxes in Israel (relatively speaking), but I got a lot back. Medicine was free. Hospitals were free. Doctors were free. You could upgrade to a snazzier package for a few dollars extra. Not a lot more. A bit more. If you had no money you got the same services without private appointments. Doctors didn’t get rich. There were no billionaires. There were public resources for good child care.

Otherwise, it was no different than living anywhere else. You liked the government, hated the government, voted and your party lost or won or wound up in a tie, in which case they did what parliamentary systems do: they lobbied madly to form a majority.

The Knesset in Jerusalem

They succeeded or failed. Failed? New election. Succeeded? Government you didn’t like. But no matter who won, somebody didn’t like it. Even when both parties formed a unified government to deal with problems neither party wanted to handle alone, someone hated them, too. There were plenty of scandals, but we had had a free press. When they tried to control the news, the TV news people went on strike. News 1, government 0.

I don’t know why everyone thinks socialism is so bad. It’s just another way of running a country. It’s not communism. It’s not destructive. On the whole, it makes life easier for regular citizens.

The worst thing about Israel was lethally bad traffic which had nothing to do with socialism. At some point, the Likud started winning elections and selected some bad leaders who made unfortunate choices. That’s government for you. Your party doesn’t always win, but a change of government isn’t supposed to be a national tragedy. It’s just politics and change is normal.

In recent years, it has been tragic. A country’s leader should not be an arrogant asshole or worse, a crooked, corrupt arrogant asshole but so often politicians are exactly that. In America and everywhere else. It must be something about the job itself because no matter where you live, the result can be remarkably similar.

Socialism is another way to run a country. It’s neither evil nor perfect. Merely different.

If I had a choice? Socialism is easier and you never have to worry about dying on the street because you can’t afford a doctor or a place to live.

Categories: Anecdote, Government, Israel, Jerusalem, socialism

Tags: , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. Four generations of my family have benefitted from a national health service from mum having three of us, my three caesareans, four grandchildren and of course operations, medical investigations and my late husband’s care with terminal cancer- if we had to pay for all these things I can’t imagine. We all think or hope we won’t need hospital stuff if we’re healthy, but you never know what is going to happen. So why would we mind paying into a great big fund to help everyone. No system is perfect when run by humans, but socialism surely shows a civilised approach. It must have been interesting living in Israel.


  2. Many people who scream about socialism to warn against certain politicians have no idea what socialism actually is!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why are we afraid of socialism? I’m certainly not–we’ve been using some socialist elements to run our society for decades and help the people. But oodles of folks don’t know that or want to acknowledge that.

    I think most folks who are afraid of it remember two things: Josef Stalin and atheism. And most of the folks who lash out the most are fundamentalist Christians or people who watch certain networks and follow certain groups, and nothing else. They heard how in Stalin’s Russia, the state became the religion and can do no wrong. I always wondered why when someone admitted they were an atheist, they were usually called a communist, too. They don’t know the difference between socialism and communism and don’t care, They just know the scary stuff and our American Mythology. Nothing else to them matters, because ‘Murica!

    It’s sad, because there are oodles of ways to explain it, but it would require some changes to how we do things, and those who’ve already got theirs won’t want to hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And back we go to a total lack of decent education. We don’t study history — not the real stuff — and we don’t even get (anymore) basic civics so we don’t even understand how OUR government works. We are stupid ON PURPOSE. If we keep cutting back on education, I think we can expect a future generation of total morons. It’s frustrating because it wouldn’t take that much effort to make our schools a lot better — and we could do it quickly and with very little pain and stress. It isn’t that that hard to print better text books that contain the truth and get RID of those standardized tests that are ruining education nationally.

      But they won’t do it. It’s all those MEN, you know? They are such rigid thinkers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure Christ was a socialist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Can’t tell THEM that, though. That’s a hippie liberal conspiracy theory!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet who nurtured the Beats, dies at 101 – yesterday. I think he actually INVENTED the concept of “beat poet.” he was also a publisher and the owner of the celebrated San Francisco bookstore City Lights. At least he lived long enough to see Biden in office. He was the original liberal conspiracy beat poet. I was a big fan of his when I was in my teens. I would have loved to hear what he had to say about “now.”

          Liked by 1 person

      • If they’d invented the word, I’m sure he would have been. He kind of was anyway, just without the verbiage and conspiracy theories. And look where it got HIM. They didn’t like liberals back then, either.


  4. The fear mongering around socialism is rampant. And the fear mongers call anything that smacks of regulation or sharing “socialism” in order to keep it away. Looking at healthcare, it is quite clear that universal healthcare with access for all works very well. Providers make a good enough living, and on the whole, the population is MUCH healthier. The US ranks around 20th in health outcomes among countries, with the highest spending. About 30 years ago, insurance companies started converting from mutual (consumer owned not for profits) to for profits, and things really got out of hand. Note that this is also about the time that Hillary was demonized for naming these issues, and the campaign of hate/mud slinging really got going. And don’t get me started on drug companies!


    • I know. Federal free health care is GREAT. What a shock it was coming back to the US after a decade away and realizing I had to pay for medicine and couldn’t afford to get sick. I had forgotten. Then there were advertisements all of them seemed to be about food. LOTS of food. No wonder Americans are fat. We seem to be obsessed by giant amounts of food.

      I haven’t met a doctor yet who didn’t think “socialized” health care would be better.

      I get tired of all the lies. I keep hoping that we will see we are on the wrong path and start to improve, but maybe we are beyond that. I have to wonder with all the bad stuff going on, how are we going to confront it? It seems like an endless cycle and worse, it’s the SAME endless cycle we’ve been on forever.


  5. I live in a country that has socialized health care, no-fault car insurance, and, in my province, very strong labour unions. Sometimes my friends from the U.S. tease me and refer to Canada as a socialist nation. I must admit I’m not offended!


    • There’s nothing wrong with socialism. You pay higher taxes, but you get something back for the money you pay. American are totally clueless about what socialism really IS. They think it’s communism by another name. They are STUPID. And incredibly ignorant.


  6. $6000 in property taxes? You might as well live in NH…. I had a manager who lived in Reading. We bought our houses at the same time and she paid three times more for hers. her taxes were half mine in NH. The houses we have on the Cape have are about 1/4 the taxes per value than in NH. But you seem to be paying more per value than us! And we don’t have income tax.

    I agree about socialism. I have no idea why there is such a fear about it, but I think it is fed by the richest who make money hand over fist from the rest of us scare mongering so they can maintain their monopolies.


    • We pay that much because our town has no business, no plans, no intelligent management, no one who keeps track of the town’s finances. We have no apartments or condos and a LOT of empty land. No way to raise money. The money we get back from the feds are pathetic and inadequate to even plow the roads, so people who own homes pay through the nose. When we moved here 20 years ago, taxes for the YEAR were about $1800. Then we had to buy new fire engines, a new fire house, and a new high school. And somehow, about 7 million dollars disappeared into someone’s pocket. Small towns are often hotbeds of corruption.

      Corruption is easy-peasy when you have no mayor, no meaningful elections and the same corrupt families are always in charge or at least have been since before we moved here.

      As long as we are afraid of change, we won’t change. If I could make ONE thing go away? I’d disconnect Fox and all the baby fox networks, then go back to making news a public service and not “entertainment.” That would solve a lot of problem in one big hit. Not going to happen, but we need to start somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m lucky that my small town does a pretty good job with keeping corruption out. I’m sure there is some, but nothing like what you are talking about.
        I agree that the first thing to help the country would be getting rid of Faux News. Not the total solution. Did you ever read The Grapes of Wrath? I guess people back then were as anti-socialism as they are now, though Roosevelt was able to get a lot done.


        • Some towns are worse than others. I know some people on the Cape who have a lot of problems with it. I think here the problem is the complete lack of town structure. No mayor, no regular elections. And they are such a hostile group of people, our “leaders” here that no one wants to deal with them. They offered Garry a job and he ran in the other direction. He said we’d have half the town in the driveway throwing rocks.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Rich Food for Thoughts…. thank you.


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