Recently, Tom West wrote about polls, saying, “... Republicans support for capitalism over socialism has remained strong.’’ (Oct. 6 issue)

I laughed.

When surveyed the majority of voters say they are against “entitlements” and “socialism.” They don’t realize that programs like Medicare and Social Security are considered “entitlements” and “socialism,” yet both programs are hugely popular among voters. The fact is, if America had to pass either program in today’s political climate, they would never pass. They would be branded as socialist entitlements, designations intended to trigger alarm among voters. The fact that we couldn’t pass Social Security in today’s climate signals how adrift from the best interest of citizens our country has moved.

Similarly, if you survey people enlisted in the military and ask if they approve of “socialism” or “entitlements” you often hear a resounding no. Yet, all American military branches are socialist groups where enlisted personnel receive government benefits like affordable housing, food, tuition assistance and universal healthcare. So, to assert that America is “capitalist” and republicans aren’t “socialist” is patently false. Trump paid millions in tax dollars to bail out farmers, aka buying votes over a failed trade war, which stands as yet another shining example Republican “socialism.”

So if America has always incorporated elements of both capitalism and socialism and Republicans execute a huge number of socialist acts such as bailing out Wall Street, farmers and not taxing large corporations, then what are they really saying?

It was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who unpacked the truth about American capitalism when he wrote, “socialism is for the rich, and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor.”

In an article written for WSJ Senator Bernie Sanders illustrates King’s point:

“If you are a fossil-fuel company, whose carbon emissions are destroying the planet, Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans offer billions in government subsidies, including special tax breaks, royalty relief and funding for research and development. But if you are struggling to pay your utility bill, you get the free market — higher and higher electric bills.

If you are a pharmaceutical company, you make huge profits on patent rights for medicines that were developed with taxpayer-funded research. But if you are a taxpayer, you get the free market and pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs — and in some cases you die because you cannot afford the medication you need.

For decades, under “establishment” politicians working class Americans have paid the tab for freeloading, socialist, welfare-queen corporations. It’s time Americans level the playing field and formally introduce corporate freeloaders to their share of “rugged. free-enterprise capitalism”. Americans are done dispensing free money to Jeff-Bezos-billionaires, who pay zero taxes and receive $129M in refunds. In a more equitable system, everyone pays their fair share. Our taxes should care for the many rather than the elite few. If a living wage, secure retirement, clean environment and universal healthcare are socialism, then Bern the establishment, I’m all in.

Jody Scott Olson is a resident of Little Falls.

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