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 plus Federal and state income taxes and in some places, town or city income taxes — and we get very little or nothing. Around here, have no town water, sewage, or trash collection. We pay for all of that ourselves. We have no streetlights, no sidewalks.

The only thing the town does for us is plow the snow 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, no cable.

That’s it. That’s what we get for all 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? A government you didn’t like or often disapproved of. No matter who won, someone 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 television news people went on strike. News 1 (won), government 0.

I don’t know why everyone thinks socialism is 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 average people.

Other than war and terrorism, the worst thing about Israel were lethally bad drivers. This had nothing to do with socialism. At some point, the Likud began winning elections. They selected bad leaders who made stupid, dangerous 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 politics. Change happens.

In recent years, it has been tragic. A country’s leader should not be an arrogant asshole or a crooked, corrupt arrogant asshole. But so often, politicians are that or worse. In America and elsewhere, it has it been true. There must be something about the politics as a profession because no matter where you live, the results are often surprisingly similar.

Socialism is a different way to run a country. It’s not evil or perfect. Only different.

If I had a choice? Socialism is more comfortable. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about dying on the street because you can’t afford a place to live or a doctor.

Categories: Anecdote, Government, Israel, Jerusalem, socialism

Tags: , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. When David and I were young we had private health cover which was expensive but we managed it. We were rarely sick in those days. We dropped it in the end as the fees got higher and our incomes got smaller. Since then we relied on the public health system. In Tasmania that also covers ambulances which was a blessing when David got sick and we called them out numerous times. During his 8 month stay in hospital we didn’t pay one cent. Yes, if you want elective surgery the waiting lists are very long. I’ve heard terrible stories about people waiting for knee replacements etc but if you are sick you will be taken care of.


  2. The only plan close to socialism is one offered by Blue Shield 65+ if you don’t have major health problems at the time. The catch is that you have to use doctors on their list, but I have found, over the years, that they are excellent. If not, I drop them and get someone else. When I had my kidney removed, at the cost of $40,00 at the time, I paid $40.00 total. The main cost was $200 for the ambulance. Now, (knock on wood), they pay for my main doctor’s visits.


    • We have Blue Cross, but it’s the POP plan. We can go to any doctor and the costs are the same for them and us. It costs a little more (not a lot more), but we live in an area that — unlike Boston — isn’t full of doctors and great hospitals, so I’m often forced to find doctors in Boston that are not local. As long as my medications remain generic, I’m good. Part D (medications) is identical no matter what plan you use unless you are using a backup plan that pays the difference between reality what insurers pay and what they charge.

      I think Blue Cross is the best of the medical insurers. They always were and I suspect it’s because this is ALL they do. They don’t also insure your house and car and try to sell you life insurance. Even their customer service is generally managed by people who actually know something about the job they are doing — a real relief after so many other companies I’ve been with over the years.


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