President Trump states "the U.S. will never be a socialist country.” Whether because of ignorance or bad branding, Mr. Trump would benefit by appreciating how our nation operates.

If a partial definition of socialism includes the use of public resources to support the general population, then the United States is, and has been for generations, a decidedly socialist nation.

Consider the following governmental allocations (i.e., transfer of taxpayers’ largesse) to: the personnel and industries in our military-industrial complex; the distribution of payroll taxes to support Social Security and Medicare; Veterans Affairs; fuel taxes earmarked for highway infrastructure; federal aid in various forms to public education; unemployment benefits; maintenance of national forests, parks and monuments; money spent by the Army Corps of Engineers along the Gulf Coast; the crucial work by the NTSB to enhance safety after accidents; the CDC’s efforts to understand disease and deal with outbreaks; the National Guard’s response to crisis situations; Forest Service fire suppression efforts; other governmental agencies, both state and federal, who do the “peoples’ work” in so many essential ways — and this was only the short list.

Imagine the U.S. decoupling from our shared socialism by privatizing these programs. Highways could have a toll booth every 10 miles; veterans would be without housing and medical care; people out of work would have no backup; parks would become destroyed, despicable trash heaps; most seniors and retirees would be abandoned to their own limited resources, as would be jurisdictions all over the nation when disaster struck; disease outbreaks would run their own disastrous course, and so on.

Our nation would likely transition into prosperous islands, surrounded by larger islands of poverty and despair. The inequality now increasing would accelerate. This doomsday scenario is held back because we are, to a large extent, a socialist country.

The debate is not whether we are socialist, but where on the spectrum, from total privatization to more extreme socialism (think Scandinavia) we reside. Our analysis should focus on whether we should move left or right along this spectrum.

But to say “the U.S. will never be a socialist country” is just another tweet of fake news!

M. Boyd Wilcox

Corvallis (March 7)

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