I am bewildered about American reactions to socialism. Maybe it’s because we think it’s Communism? It isn’t, you know. I spent ten years in a socialist country. The main difference was that there were many parties running candidates for the Knesset some of which were very small — and we paid significantly higher taxes. In return for the taxes, we got excellent high-quality health care. No one was homeless. If you had no work, the government made sure you minimally had a place to live and food to eat. Old people didn’t wind up homeless or freezing or without medication or doctors.

In every socialist country, you can work “outside” the socialist market. You can choose to work in the private sector. That’s where I worked most of the time — except when I worked for the University of Jerusalem. We had fewer safety nets — not none, but fewer — in the private sector, but we got better pay. On which we paid taxes. Of course because everyone paid taxes and I do mean everyone.

Taxes were more acceptable. For the money we paid, we got services on which we could rely.

Here, in wild mid-central Massachusetts, we pay huge property taxes plus federal and state income taxes and sometimes, town or city taxes. For which, if you live in the country rather than the city or suburbs, you get nothing. Out here, we get literally nothing. We have no town water, sewage or trash collection. We pay for everything. We have no streetlights, no sidewalks.

The only thing the town does is plow roads when it snows. Every few years, they repave if the road gets undrivable. We get lousy wifi over which we have NO choice. It’s iffy wifi at a high price without cable.

That’s what we get for the $6000 a year we pay in property taxes. Oh, I almost forgot: we also pay an automobile excise tax which is effectively paying sales tax on the car you already own and on which you previously paid sales taxes when you bought it.

Massachusetts State House in Boston

I paid higher taxes in Israel but hospitals were free. Doctors were free. Medication was free. You could upgrade to a snazzier medical plan for a bit more money. Not a lot more, though. Just a bit. If you had no money, you got the same service but in a clinic setting. Doctors didn’t get rich. If we had any billionaires, they had the decency to shut up about it. There were plenty of public resources for child care and it was very good care. Children were protected by everyone, Jews and Arabs alike. On that one thing, there was no argument.

Otherwise, it was no different than living anywhere else. You liked the government or hated the government. You voted. Sometimes your party lost. Other times, it won or wound up in a tie, in which case they did what parliamentary systems do: they lobbied madly to form a majority by collecting the smaller parties into a bundle that was bigger than the bundle the other team collected.

The Knesset in Jerusalem

Whether the government succeeded or failed was, as it is everywhere, a bit of a crap shoot. If they failed, there would be a new election. Elections were scheduled, but if the government was voted down, a new election could be called anytime. You didn’t have to wait years.

When your government succeeded? If you were lucky, it was a government of which you approved. If not, oh well. No matter who won, you could be sure many people wouldn’t approve. Even when both major parties formed a unified government to deal with problems neither party was willing to handle alone, there were plenty of people who hated them anyway. There are a surprising number of people everywhere in the world that just hate government. We used to call them anarchists, but these days, who knows what they are.

There were also 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 bad. It’s just another way of running a country. It’s not communism. It’s not destructive. Personally, I thought it was better in most ways — but not every way. You will never find a population who completely approve of their government. It’s impossible to get everyone in any nation to agree on anything. Ever.

At some point, the Likud started winning elections and appointed some bad leaders who made terrible 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 and life goes on.

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. It must be something about the job itself. No matter where you live, the result can be surprisingly similar although the difference between America today and the America in which I grew up is jarring to say the least.

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

If I had a choice? Socialism is easier to live with. It’s a more flexible form of government and you never have to worry about dying on the street or not getting buried or cremated because you can’t afford a doctor, a place to live or a funeral. Socialism works. Look around the world at democracies and you will find most of them are socialist. Not identical because there are many shadings in socialism, often unique to a specific nation. Of course it works better some places than others, but on the whole, no one would swap their socialist government for our disastrous mess.

If you are busy screaming about the nightmare of socialism, you might pause to consider what socialism means to your average working stiff. Socialism eliminates the likelihood of your becoming a billionaire, but seriously — what are the odds of you becoming a billionaire anyway? Do you know any billionaires?

Instead, you have the freedom to live without fearing your next medical or pharmacy bill. Or, for that matter, whether or not you will be able to be buried, cremated, or left to rot because no one has the money to pay for a funeral.

It is certainly something worth thinking about.

Categories: Anecdote, Government, Israel, Money, socialism, taxes

Tags: , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    – Albert Einstein.

    Socialism? I have a brother who a Socialist. He can debate you off the face of the earth. But he doesn’t have a Spiritual bone in his body. All his decisions/policies are based upon Intellectual Idealism. Commendable, but there’s one problem: Intellectualism and Spirituality often don’t jive. In fact, most Spiritual Laws (I won’t get into that here) are completely irrational. Non Intellectual. Such as a LOVE for instance. When I was ‘In Love’ I often used to say I was insane. And I was. Because Love does not come from the Mind – it comes from the Heart.
    Therefore we’ve often heard Conservatives refer to Socialists as ‘Godless Socialists’. A broad accusation, but you get the point.

    A True Conservative is an enlightened person who makes decisions based upon a combination of Spiritual guidance and Common Sense – good judgement.- though though the twain of Intellect and Spirituality only meet when the mind (intellect) is infused by Divine Spirit. Wow.

    This is why I’m a Conservative – I try to do this. I invite it, at least. NO, it’s not easy. Lincoln was good at it. We all may be – to different degrees. That’s called Consciousness.

    On the other hand we have what I call Religious Conservatives, who are often not good at this at all. They make rigid and inflexible judgements based upon Rules they’ve acquired. We’re seeing a lot of this right now. Those are the people who put a gun on top of their Bible. Jesus wouldn’t be proud.

    However, Decisions and policies that are based solely upon intellect are often flawed because they do not invite a whole reality into their decisions that is above the Mind. Thus socialists often continue to make the same mistakes over and over – because it makes sense intellectually.

    I’m going to stop here. Thanks for listening.


    • At the risk of opening a can of worms, what does spirituality have to do with your form of government? What you believe is what you believe, but what your government does for you is, as far as I can tell, unrelated. If you care to check around, I think you will discover there are many religious socialists as well as an excess of atheist conservatives.

      Not only do I not expect any religion or spirituality from my government, I would very much resent it were there was any. If there is any more lethal combination than church and state, I have no idea what it might be. Talk about NOT mixing, wow. Spirituality is not my government’s business and my relationship to a higher power is private and nobody else’s business.


      • It’s completely related when your policies/choices – no matter how well intentioned – break Spiritual Laws. Eventually – or immediately – there’s going to be repercussions. Said Little Red Hen.
        It doesn’t matter what you expect, all life is Spiritual. That’s why we’re here. To learn by experience. We learn more from our mistakes I guess – than our successes. I didn’t create this system – it’s mechanical – but it works perfectly. Take it with up GOD if you have a complaint.
        Yeah it IS your business. But you don’t know that yet. You’re not alone.
        You will. So will I.


        • I have no objection to taking it up with God, but strongly object to having to take it up with a senator who takes his campaign money from the NRA, watches children being slaughtered, and then thinks he can tell me what I should believe.

          True freedom is the opportunity to live how you choose and believe what you will. You cannot legislate morality. Or spirituality. That is between humans and whatever they believe is their maker. We have — were given — the right to choose from the tree of knowledge. Mostly, we seem to have chosen poorly. Let’s not go from bad to worse and hand that power to some government lackey.

          As a NON Christian, I dislike being forced into a mold that has nothing to do with me. I understand that very moral people don’t feel this way and seem to believe the government should be half theocracy because what they believe should be what I believe. But that’s not freedom. Or democracy. That is religious tyranny.

          I believe that YOU should be free to believe anything, to do or not do as you see fit. I demand the same freedom. You may not agree with my beliefs, but that’s what freedom is all about. What is happening in this country with our “conservatives” who AREN’T conservatives but right-wing thugs, is appalling. Moreover, I doubt they believe in anything except money and power.


          • Well what I’m talking about … you can’t this stuff. It’s futile.


            • Maybe you can’t explain it, but given the quality of our government, how in the world can you believe those people would ever do the right thing? They never have and never will. They already control way more than they ought. To hand them even MORE power? Maybe you think we might somehow manage to elect worthier people. I think we’ve always thought and hoped this, but it has never happened. I think I’ve reached a totally cynical point in life where I don’t believe it’s possible to have a government of honorable, good people. It has never happened in the history of man on earth and I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to happen now. We are too corrupt, stupid, power hungry, greedy and bad-mannered. We will (collectively) inevitably do the wrong thing. Until somewhere on earth there is a better government, let’s settle for freedom. I think that’s as good as we’ll get — and I’m not sure how long we’ll have even the little bit of freedom we have now.


              • The missing word was Debate. A typo. Sorry.

                I know you are a good person. And I can guess how immensely frustrating and infuriating the current situation must be for you – and many. Me too.

                BUT these people are not going to walk away. We account for everything.

                I can say that for a certainty.

                It’s very tough to watch though.


                • Sometimes it really HURTS. Even if it doesn’t personally affect me, it affects so many other people. These are cruel people. The idea of giving them any MORE power? When was the last time any country produced a bunch of decent, honorable politicians? Is that even possible? Decent, honorable people shudder at the idea of politics and who can blame them?


  2. ‘Maybe it’s because we think it’s Communism’ – I think you’re spot-on with that observation. Maybe it goes back to the McCarthy era witch-hunt, when many people with slightly left of centre views were considered Communists? Here in the UK some of us are right-wing and some left-, and all shades in between (I’m left-leaning, if you’re curious). I wouldn’t say we’ve had a socialist government for years, as even when our left of centre party, Labour, were last in power, they had moved closer to centrist policies in order to win votes – and will probably do so again under the current leader of that party. I’m OK with that, as it’s a lot better than right-wing policies imho. But even under the latter we pay enough taxes to ensure a basic free health service. I’d rather we had a more socialist-leaning government, paid higher taxes and got more support in return, but at least we get some. And as it’s a democracy and in the last election the right-wing Conservatives got a strong majority, I and everyone else have to live with that. Next time around I suspect (pray!) they’ll lose and the pendulum will swing again …


    • The pendulum always eventually swings, but whether we’ll be around when it does? That’s a whole different question.

      I like parliamentary/socialist government because it is so much more flexible than whatever this mess we’ve got here. If the government is voted down, you have elections when you need them, not according to a rigid schedule. And though many countries have had to cut back on benefits provided, there is still a semblance and a nod that the government’s job is to serve the people, not themselves or their party’s agenda. Of course, that may be more or less true depending on lots of other factors and right now, every government is being faced by terrifying choices in how to spend their money.

      If we manage to survive climate change — which I often doubt, but continue to hope — there will be a huge amount of government reorganization worldwide. I have NO idea what the future will to look like. Mostly, I’d like to think we will HAVE a future!

      Liked by 1 person

      • All agreed, except a previous Conservative government here decided it would be a good idea to set a fixed five year term between elections, although that can be overridden if there’s a vote of no confidence – but that requires a significant number of the government’s own MPs to turn against them! So we have to wait till 2024 to get rid of the current incompetent lot 😦


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