This is in response to Walter Edin’s letter to the editor: “Socialism is always a failure” (Dec. 15, 2019 issue).

In an attempt to “educate liberals” on the evils of socialism the letter highlights programs that, by definition are “socialism.” In fairness, political and pundit fearmongers revel in exploiting voter confusion while disregarding successful forms of American socialism that are integrated parts of American life.

Plainly put, confused voters are easy to punk.

America is responsible for some of the greatest medical advances in the world, often paid for by taxpayer-funded research, yet average Americans can’t afford it and those who can pay more than anyone on the planet for its benefits.

You’ve been punked.

The term “socialism” refers to a wide range of social and economic systems characterized by social ownership of the means of production, which includes public/governmental ownership. In the U.S., this includes military branches, the VA, public schools, Social Security and Medicare. Therefore, the assertion in the letter that “socialism is always a failure” is false. The forms of socialism in the U.S. have long co-existed with American capitalism and are the most popular programs with both Democrat and Republican voters alike. Whether realized or not, “socialism” in the context previously defined, happens to be one thing that Democrats and Republican voters actually agree on.

Like the majority of Americans, the letter writer believes that Social Security isn’t an “entitlement” program because he paid for its benefit. He, like scores of other voters, incorrectly associates the term “entitlement program” with freeloading. The actual definition of “entitlement” is, “everyone who meets the criteria qualifies.” To quote the SSA, “Social Security benefit programs are ‘entitlement programs.’”

If you’ve voted against entitlements without recognizing that your vote could impact your SS check, the future of the SSA, or your Medicare benefits; you have again been punked.

According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, approximately 45,000 Americans die each year due to a lack of health insurance. To understand the magnitude, this is equal to the annual death toll of people living in Little Falls, Rice, Royalton, Sauk Rapid, Brainerd and Baxter combined annually.

While politicians try to convince voters that single payer is unaffordable, ask them how much our current system is collectively costing. Then ask what value they place on the 45,000 who die needlessly each year at the hands of politicians who lack the guts to stanch the cash flow to the profiteering insurance industry who raid our pockets and life savings when we are most in need.

Americans need not travel to the Middle East to find bad guys with a callous disregard for American lives, massive death tolls or the needless infliction of suffering. We need only look at our elected officials.

FDR signed Social Security into law in 1935. LBJ signed Medicare in 1965. Every developed country has it. We put men in space, but in the digital age, America is too defunct to expand Medicare to all. We don’t lack resources, we lack will.

This is our war. This is our time.

Jody Scott Olson is a resident of Little Falls.

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