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.
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.