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Stop saying socialism like it’s a bad thing

Socialism isn’t what you think.

In fact, “socialism” — at least the kind that progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders are professing — could save us.

In our current political system, socialism is a dirty word. We’re all a little scared of it.

We’re not sure how, but we’re certain it’ll ruin us, steal our freedoms, and perhaps turn us into Soviet Russia.

But democratic socialism is not the kind that we’re deathly afraid of, even though we have a tendency in this country to equate it with an authoritarian or totalitarian government.

We see China and North Korea, and automatically think that they’re the direct result of a socialist system. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, the countries that consistently rank among the happiest in the world all have socialist leanings.

Denmark, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria and Iceland are the happiest countries in the world, according to Forbes.

Anything in common? For one, all of these countries have universal health care, something that the United States lacks.

And before you go ahead and praise our capitalist health care system because it fosters competition, just remember that we spend more per capita on health care than any other country.

Not only that, but we are constantly ranked lower in categories such as life expectancy and infant mortality than other developed countries.

Another thing: the majority of these countries all have what is known as a livable wage, defined by the average worker’s ability to financially survive by working a normal amount of hours.

Australia has one of the best minimum wages in the world, according to CNN.

Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and The Netherlands do not have federally mandated minimum wages, but strong labor unions in those countries ensure that working people make a livable wage, according to the U.S. State Department.

Compare that to the U.S., where the minimum wage has hardly kept up with inflation and the rising cost of living.

But there’s always a counter-argument, isn’t there? The typically right-wing critics of socialist programs often say that what works in other countries won’t work in ours.

But let’s not forget all the ways that the United States is already socialist.

We all live for the weekend, right? You can thank the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 for that. A stature championed by labor movements of the time, the likes of which were often peppered with socialists.

The Act also banned child labor, mandated a federal minimum wage, and ensured that overtime pay was “time-and-a-half.”

Programs like social security, welfare and unemployment benefits are also examples. Although socialist in nature, a majority of Americans have come to accept and even support these programs.

And the roots of socialism in this country go even deeper. Infrastructure, public libraries, local police and fire departments, the U.S. Postal Service. These are all socialist programs that do a service to our country.

Even the U.S. Military is a socially-funded program. Yet, the same people who criticize socialism are the same people who wouldn’t dare even think about cutting defense spending.

In that same vein, it’s easy to overlook all of the tax dollars that go to corporate welfare. But somehow, the same people who would deny food stamps to people in need are completely okay with forking over tax dollars for corporate subsidies.

Where’s the logic in that?

These socialist programs exist in America because they work, and they’ve always worked.

So it makes no sense that we throw socialism around like it’s a dirty word, like an ultracapitalist system is somehow more morally sound.

If socialism looks like Denmark, if it looks like a livable wage and guaranteed health care, if it looks like a happy country, then why are we so quick to denounce it?

Sure, we don’t need to disown capitalism entirely. But we do need to remove the stigma behind socialism that exists so prevalently in our current political climate.

Socialism won’t ruin us; it hasn’t in the past. The hope now is that we come to realize that.

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