By Kim Adamski
There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding socialism. No, Obama is not a socialist (far from it!). No, socialism does not mean you have to wear a uniform of gray pajamas. Socialism is when the means of production are owned and regulated by the community as a whole, rather than private individuals (as in capitalism). Socialists see capitalism as the primary cause of economic inequality – the rich own the means of production, and as a result the lower classes are at the (usually selfish) mercy of the rich.
An example of socialism common in the western world today is socialized medicine. Here, healthcare is paid for with public funds, and provided to all citizens equally, rather than only those with sufficient funds and/or insurance. Canada is one such country. In Canada, healthcare is rationed by the government, rather than by supply-and-demand economics. With supply and demand, price is increased until the cost of the product eliminates excess demand – those who cannot afford it don’t get any. Rationing conserves resources first for those who need it most. The product, in this case medical treatment, is distributed on a basis of need. This means that a person whose condition can wait for treatment will be unable to receive treatment on demand. Critics say this is not fair – if you can pay for a procedure, you should be able to get it when you want it. Many Americans believe that Canadians’ health is at risk because of the rationing of healthcare. However, studies have shown that Canada has similar mortality rates to the US, despite the differences in their healthcare systems.
Socialized medicine allows all people equal access to healthcare, eliminating (or at least diminishing) the effect of economic disadvantage on healthcare use. Other social programs allow people of all classes to access resources like roads, schooling, and public safety. Most would agree that these publicly funded programs are important and beneficial to the community as a whole. However, these same people are usually afraid of using the word “socialism.”
Really, what socialism is, is equal opportunity. Americans often claim that their country is a land of equal opportunity, despite the fact that millions of Americans are unable to lift themselves from poverty because they lack access to the same resources as their middle-class and wealthy counterparts. Public education gives people (theoretically) equal access to education, and with that the privileges of an education. Publicly owned production means that production is solely for the good of the public, with the added benefit of eliminating corporate political power – power is moved to the hands of the people. Socialist feminists believe a socialist revolution is necessary for true gender equality. What today’s Americans think of as freedom, is really just freedom of corporations to control politics and people – not freedom for the individual. Contrary to what many people believe, socialism is about freedom. Freedom to participate in politics, to define one’s own sexual and social relationships, to have access to good nutrition, healthcare, and education, to be valued equally, to true democracy.
Kim Adamski co-hosts a public affairs show on WHUS called Full Frontal Feminism with DJ KBham. Find more information on their Facebook page, facebook.com/fullfrontalfeminism.