America Is Already Socialist, And That’s a Good Thing

Miles Mogulescu Attorney/Activist

During Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, many of the old, white, Republican Senators and Representatives must have gotten more exercise than in weeks, jumping to their feet to applaud almost every sentence of the endless rhetoric.

One of the moments that got the loudest applause was Trump’s attempt to blame progressive Democrats for the problems of the current Venezuelan government, proclaiming the U.S. “will never be a socialist country” to a loud standing ovation from Republicans (and too many Democrats) and chants of “USA, USA, USA.”

Like so much of Trump’s speech, the statement was false. I have news for the Donald: The United States—like every other country with an advanced economy, such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Japan—is already a partly socialist country, with a mixed economy and many government programs that serve the public good.

By this defintion, Social Security is a “socialist” program: it’s a government-run pension system that cuts out private money managers. Medicare – a single-payer, government-run health insurance program for those over 65 – is too. Medicare-For-All would simply extend this to the rest of the population.

The minimum wage, maximum hour, and child labor laws that go back over a century are likewise “socialist” programs, in that the government intervenes in the capitalist market to require employers to meet minimum standards that might not be met in a pure, unregulated “free” market. Agricultural and energy subsidies are likewise socialist programs. I could go on and on.

Stripped of the Red-baiting and name-calling, the real debate isn’t between capitalism vs. socialism, but about the appropriate balance between the two.

Conservatives want to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits and reduce the numbers who qualify, while progressives want to increase and expand these programs.  Many progressives want to move towards a Medicare system covering all Americans, not just those over 65 (“Medicare for All”) while centrist Democrats want to protect the ACA which is a hybrid between private insurance and government insurance and regulation, and conservatives want to go back to the all-private system which pre-dated the ACA.

The government already supports higher education (that’s socialism) but progressives want to make a public college education free or debt-free.  Conservatives support government subsidies for agriculture and the oil energy (that’s socialism) while many progressives believe this is “reverse welfare” for the rich and want to reduce them.

Under the headline, “Most Young Americans Prefer Socialism to Capitalism” CNBC reported on a Gallup poll this summer showing that millennials are more favorable to the socialist side than the capitalist side of the equation. with 51% having a positive view of socialism and only 47% having a positive view of capitalism. 

That’s why the election to Congress of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other young progressives – many of them women, who dressed in dramatic white at the State of the Union, which spoke louder than Trump’s words – represents a generational political and cultural change that will likely transform the country.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, these young progressives were children, or not yet born, when the Red-baiting of the Cold War made socialism a dirty word.

Trump’s false proclamation that America “will never be a socialist country” was an attempt to resurrect the McCarthyite red-baiting of his childhood in order to put his thumb on the capitalist side of the scale favored by the oligarchs in the ongoing debate over how much socialism and how much socialism America should have. 

With a rising generation viewing greater socialism sympathetically, in the long-run this is a losing strategy. AOC and her colleagues–not Donald Trump and old, white Republican politicians–represent the future.

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Reposted from Our Future

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Campaign for America's Future

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work