Socialism On My Street - Oops, I Mean This Is How Government Is Suppose To Work

As an American baby boomer, the word "socialism" was never presented to me with anything but a negative connotation. Socialism is akin to communism and it means the State is going to control everything and we won't have anything unless those in charge let us. In my 57 years on this planet, the majority of time I heard the word "socialism" used it was not in a positive context.

I was taught Socialism was scary.
However, over the last few years I have begun to view socialism in a very positive light. Mind you, I am NOT praising communism or calling for the tearing apart of capitalism. In my life I have owned three micro businesses, no one believes in the freedom to succeed or fail more that I do. My first foray into self-employment was AAFAB - Almost Anything For A Buck. I registered AAFAB when I was 19 or so - I was the sole proprietor who specialized in roofing and painting. I had a pick-up truck, a variety of ladders, some liability insurance and a fair selection of tools. That lasted for a few years until the SECOND time I almost fell off a roof while working by myself!

After working for others for a couple decades, I was a partner in a small recording studio, Voce Sound, that did a lot of jingles and radio commercials. My wife Julie and I have owned and operated Chimera Design, a mom and pop jewelry store in Lowell, MI since 2002. I mention this to demonstrate that I not only believe in free enterprise, I live it.

Now, back to that dirty, nasty word "socialism". Senator Bernie Sanders has brought it into the national discussion as he runs for President as a self-declared "Democratic Socialist." The point of this Riff is NOT to debate his policies, but to question what exactly makes us as a nation so afraid of "socialism".

SPOILER ALERT: Ladies and gentlemen, we as Americans benefit from socialism all the time. It is nothing to be afraid of - hell, we ought to welcome it with open arms.

For example, earlier this month we had a serious snowstorm with some very strong winds. It blew down a large tree that was near the road on the property of our neighbor across the street. The tree fell across both lanes of our street with the top branches coming to rest well into our yard. The man across the street, Josh, has a farm and he cleared the roadway of a good portion of the tree that was blocking it with a chain saw and a Bobcat. But he had some big leftovers on his property as did we.

I was pretty bummed when I saw the HUGE part of the tree in our yard. There are a few things that make me real nervous - alligators, grizzly bears, and chain saws are among them. I did NOT relish the prospect of either having to hire a tree trimmer or, god forbid, borrowing a chain saw and cutting up the tree myself.


One of Josh's brothers saw us looking at the tree. He explained to me that because the tree was on the easement along the road controlled by the County we live in, they would send a crew to come out and clear the tree parts on both sides of the road. Sure enough, about five days later when I left for work three trucks, half a dozen workers and a big wood chipper showed up. By the time I got home that night, the mess was GONE. I did not have to hire a tree service or risk my digits trying to cut the tree up myself. (Whew!)

According to their website, "Taxes from fuel on gas and diesel combined with fees from vehicle registration comprise the major sources of revenue for the Kent County Road Commission". In other words, Josh and I benefited from the gas taxes paid by people from all over Michigan. That is the POWER of Socialism friends.

Socialism happens when all of us put a little bit into a kitty that eventually will be used to the benefit of some or all of us when we have need. No big fearful ogre here. The same Kent County Road Commission used the huge trucks it has to clear our road during the aforementioned snow storm so that I could get into work. I didn't have to try to travel the 10 miles in 6 inches of snow or hire a private snow plow that I could follow to the store.

These days I get a huge kick out of people my age who talk about socialism like something you want to wipe of the bottom of your shoes. Really? You say you don't want any part of socialism? You sure about that?

To date, I have not met anyone who plans on REFUSING medicare when they qualify for it. On the contrary, I have heard people putting off medical procedures for a couple of months until they QUALIFY for this socialist program. Same can be said for Social Security - you know anybody returning their checks?

The fact of the matter is that when we take programs that by their very nature SHOULD be socialist in nature and "privatize" them into some kind of profit making enterprise we end up with really shitty results. I live in Michigan and here are examples of what I mean: The veterans facility in Grand Rapids was privatized and it is a mess. The prisons in our state are run by a For Profit company and you can Google that subject to see how that has turned out.

The ne plus ultra example is the Flint Water Crisis. Safe drinking water is socialism at its best. Everybody in a given area chips in and BINGO - safe drinking water comes out of the sink for us to drink, cook with and bathe in. WHOOPS - we tried to cut corners, save money and remove the social element of water and now we have thousands of kids who have been poisoned and a huge mess for our capitalist governor to clean up.

Funny thing - Governor Snyder wants to SOCIALIZE his legal expenses - all of us who pay taxes in Michigan get to help him pay for the massive, multiple law suits heading his way!!!

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