Don’t get scared. I’m going to talk about something that’s caused a lot of fear mongering.
You see, advanced countries, like the United States, pool resources for the common good. How? Well, governments enact taxes and then spend that money on things that benefit everyone. Think of national defense, schools, highways, healthcare, unemployment insurance—basically government spending that protects the well-being of the people.
But since some folk, like your conservative Uncle Bob, think ANY pooling of resources for the common good is…socialism.
And since socialism is apparently so terrifying…
I’m going to use a different word to describe this taxing of individuals for the common good. Let’s use.. I don’t know.. How about…Banana! That’s not scary, right?
Great. So, there are essentially three purposes for which governments banana.
First, social insurance against the possibilities of misfortune and neediness, such as unemployment, poor health, disability, and so on.
Second, public goods that we all benefit from, such as parks, highways, public health, and national defense.
Third, public investment in our future, such as basic research, education, and efforts to address pollution and the climate crisis.
And banana’ing is how societies grow their economies, become more prosperous, and ensure a better life for their people.
It’s also how countries aid people in hard times—or when emergencies arise, like a global pandemic.
To simply call any government banana’ing “socialism…” Oops, sorry I used the word.…Well it distorts our ability to think through how we banana and what we banana on.
And, it ignores the fact that the United States bananas LESS than most developed nations.
And pandemic aside, we banana less on unemployment insurance than nearly every other country.
Of course these countries generally have higher taxes than the United States to support all their banana’ing.
And we could banana a lot more without having to raise taxes on middle or low-income Americans if the rich paid their fair share. Unfortunately, the tax code in the U.S. has been rigged so that the rich and powerful often skirt what they owe and get away with lower tax rates than regular people.
And the rich have done such a good job convincing people that any increase in banana’ing would be… you know, that S word … that we just accept things as they are.
The only banana’ing they don’t seem to mind is on the military, where we banana more than the countries with the next 10 biggest militaries combined. That’s bananas!
All of this is a major reason why America has such staggering levels of inequality and poverty.
Whether banana’ing is “socialism” or not is a useless argument. Every country bananas. Capitalism requires banana’ing to ensure a degree of fairness and stability.
So the next time your Uncle Bob decries any pooling of private resources for the common good—or bananaing—as “socialism”… share this video with him.
And give him a banana.
Read it on Robert Reich’s blog.