How encouraging and relevant to see Rich Hazeltine’s letter of Oct 28, raising the issues of competing ‘isms’ ("The problem with this "ism").

There is a plethora of ‘isms’ – many religious – and some bygone ones, such as feudalism. A consistent theme for all adherents of their chosen ‘ism’ is a firm belief in the correctness or righteousness of their way, to the exclusion of other competitors. In addition, those at the apex of any ‘ism’ usually enjoy greater benefits than the majority of the mass of followers.

Capitalism seems closely allied to Darwinism, with the economic survival and ascendancy of those with the most ability or wealth at the expense of the less fortunate. And that brings me to a recent weekend gathering where the issue of socialism, that bête noire of American capitalism, was vigorously debated.

The focal point of our debate was, naturally, health care, especially the proposal for Medicare for All, which is roundly castigated as socialized medicine – which is a very bad thing in a capitalistic economic environment, according to the opponents.

Socialism seems to be confused with Communism, but of course, as practiced, they are vastly different. The debate ranged over the various services and benefits we enjoy in our society.

Take police and fire protection. These are areas where a tax is levied on the population at large so that all may benefit from the services provided. Sounds like classic socialism, doesn’t it?

Just imagine if police protection services were delivered using the model we have for health care delivery. If you had a Cadillac Police Plan they turn up to protect you for every infraction. On the other hand, if you only had a Basic Police Plan, they only show up for serious felonies, assaults, or homicides. And what if these plans were tied to where you worked? What would our neighborhoods look like if lawbreakers were allowed to selectively prey upon those who did not have a police protection plan?

Similarly with fire protection – very topical with the fires currently raging in Northern California and Southern California. Today, with "socialized" fire protection at the state and local levels, we all pay the tax and the firefighters turn out to protect everyone they can.

But what if fire protection were delivered under the health care model? I may be personally covered, but if those around me are not offered coverage by their employer and a fire rages through the neighborhood, having those homes around me catch fire is more than likely going to see my home go up in flames.

It seems that some socialism is acceptable for the services we all agree upon as being necessary for a safe and well-ordered society – only in the case of police and fire protection it’s not labelled with the pejorative of socialism. Somehow, universal health care in America continues to be singled out and denigrated as socialism. Why?

Michael Wycombe


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