Stuart Wesbury

Stuart Wesbury

“There are strong reasons to believe Socialism has never existed to its fullest extent because it violates essential and incontrovertible aspects of human nature.”

So said Justin Haskins in his book “Socialism is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream.” The lesson is that as socialism controls more and more of our government and our lives, we eventually come to understand that we are on the way to being deprived of our cherished freedom. At that point, our bedrock belief in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” disappears. This is the moment of citizen awakening.

Americans are not dumb. We know government has basic responsibilities and we are willing to pay for the costs of supporting these necessary services (military, police, fire protection, road maintenance, etc.). This willing support also extends to individuals and families who need monetary, nutritional, housing and medical care, among other necessities. Yes, we are a generous nation and, with the help of thousands of nonprofit organizations, both short-term and long-term assistance are made available. But there are expectations that most recipients of such support accept responsibility to work toward assuming full, personal responsibility to support their own needs.

In addition, other types of supportive programs — Social Security and Medicare among them — have been created to serve all or specific portions of our citizenry. Underlying these programs is the assumption that many individuals may not have accumulated the necessary resources to afford retirement or needed health care. Rather than simply providing free retirement income and health care from the federal budget, both programs were implemented utilizing payroll deductions as the basic source of income to pay for benefits for all persons meeting the required age and/or other requirements.

These support programs do not mean that America is a socialist nation. They were created to provide temporary assistance based upon need or to offer long-term benefits paid for through payroll deduction and employer contributions. Indeed, the very name of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act — or FICA, under which payroll deductions are made for Social Security and Medicare — emphasizes that the programs were to be understood as insurance and not a government handout.

Social Security was passed into law while the horrors of the Great Depression were still fresh in the minds of everyone. None of these programs required the takeover or control of any U.S. industry. Indeed, these programs were built upon the expectation that the nongovernmental portion of our national economy would thrive and provide the financial underpinnings for the promised benefits — clear evidence of the success and continued success of free markets and capitalism.

I believe all this is evidence of what has made America great and serves as a magnet for many around the world who seek through immigration the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms and protections offered by America. While we are a nation that takes care of its people, we are also a nation that expects its citizens to be responsible, productive and self-sustaining. America’s success and uniqueness in the world are bound by this blend of government doing its job while allowing the freedom necessary for capitalism to flourish. I am proud of America.

Today, it is obvious that what has made America great is under attack. Most of the 20-plus Democratic presidential candidates have a very different view of our country and the underpinnings of its continued greatness. According to dependable estimates, the cost of their proposals for free gifts far exceeds the available resources of our country. The Democrats will impose not only higher taxes on middle-class Americans, they want to steal from the existing wealth of those (not just the 1%) who invest in our job-producing industries and economic structures. Their proposals will necessitate raising the taxes of every employed person in the U.S.

The government paying off college loans and making college education “free” will require taking money from individuals who could not go to college themselves. The attack on fossil fuels will require the government-led destruction of the portion of the energy industry that today produces 80% of our energy. And “Medicare for All” will insert government into every aspect of our health care system.

This is not all. They want more.

For the uninitiated, these intrusions into our American way of life are socialist interventions. Under socialism, government does not need to own a company or industry — government just has to control it. This is what the Democrats want. They have already made this clear in the first round of presidential candidate debates. There goes our freedom.

My vote will be for what has made America great and continues to support its greatness. The Democrats’ notion of “free” is unsustainable.

Stuart Wesbury, a professor emeritus in Arizona State University’s School of Health Administration and Policy, is a resident of Willow Street. He has a Ph.D. in economics and business administration. He is a former community member of the LNP Editorial Board.