Is "socialism" a dirty word?

Each and every person who reads this article is a filthy socialist. I am a socialist. You are a socialist. My father, though he will never admit it and will likely take umbrage with this, is a damn socialist.

We hear a lot these days about "Americans who don't want to live in a socialist country" or the always helpful, "Go live in Europe if you want to be a socialist."

What a lot (read: most) of Americans can't seem to get through their thick skulls is that America has been a socialist country for centuries. Remember when we were ready to whip some Godless commies if they ever got up the nerve to haul their vodka-soaked butts over here to the land of the free and the home of the brave? We would have been able to put up a pretty decent fight, actually, because we have some seriously awesome infrastructure - like roads - in this country. Who maintains the roads, though? Do you pay a toll every time you turn onto a new street? No, because we have socialized roads.

Your house is on fire! Oh no, what do you do? You certainly don't start thumbing through the yellow pages, looking for the cheapest firefighters. You call 911. And some socialist firefighters come and put out the fire. Do you then pay them out of pocket? No? That's called socialism, friends.

One more scenario: you want to go to college. Hypothetically, let's say your parents send you to private school for elementary and high school in order to avoid the socialism of state-funded, state-run public schools. Hell, you even have your own private library, so that you never have to go to the socialized public one. You're golden.

But there's a problem. All that money your parents spent on private schools has left you without much to spend on college. Then you hear about this excellent place called SUNY Geneseo, where you get accepted and decide to attend. You're a lousy socialist now, amigo. State-subsidized education for the win!

One of our founding fathers, those gods of the American pantheon, was one of the biggest proponents of public schooling on the planet at the time. His name was Thomas Jefferson, socialist. Perhaps you've heard of him.

So what's the problem with socialized health care? As you can see, socialism seems to work pretty well for us. In fact, we already have socialized health care: it's called Medicare and Medicaid. But these systems don't work too well; they're moribund and inefficient. What's wrong with wanting to streamline them a bit, get them in shape, make their aid available to every American, poor or rich?

In this so-called land of equality, why are some people so afraid of socialism, that greatest of equalizers? Please, let me know if you find out, because I'm still scratching my head. Also, in homage to a prominent socialist of his own time: Carthaginem esse delendam. Cato the Elder, ladies and gentlemen.

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