Courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
So, the State of Alaska controlling the pipeline production and income and distributing money earned to its people is a great example of socialism.
Raising taxes a bit to pay for health care is not socialist, though one may accuse it of being good common sense.
Health care reform wouldn't be socialist unless the government takes over the entire industry, reaps the profits, and then distributes the "goods" as it sees fit. By entire industry, I mean the production of medical equipment, health insurance, for profit hospitals, and so on--anything that makes money in health care.
The public option that got shot down was merely going to offer a Medicare-like choice to those who can't afford expensive private insurance or whose workplace doesn't offer insurance, paid for by charging premiums to the people who chose that option.
Raising taxes to help people in our society is not socialism. No amount of shouting about it will make it so.
Socialist is a buzz word any time rich people's taxes are going up. (Because it gets confused also with communism, a very scary word in our society.) Isn't it amazing how the Republicans can scare middle and lower middle class people into marching with signs to protest rich people's taxes going up, even if theirs goes down?
Now let's review communism, which is distinctly different from socialism:
Main Entry: com·mu·nism
Pronunciation: \ˈkäm-yə-ˌni-zəm, -yü-\
Etymology: French communisme, from commun common
1 a : a theory advocating elimination of private property b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2 capitalized a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b : a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably d : communist systems collectively
Now I understand that in the conservative mind, especially the tea-bagging conservative mind, all liberals are godless commies. Let me go on record as saying that every effort at communism so far has had serious flaws and yes, I include Cuba in that assessment. The system never seems to get to the point where "the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably."
I don't believe imperfect humans will ever achieve a perfect system. But I do believe that we can push for a fairer distribution of the wealth in the U.S. without resorting to completely changing our system. There is no reason why poor children should go hungry, sick and disabled people go without the treatment and equipment they need, whole communities have substandard schools and housing, none of this should go on in the United States of America while the pay for CEOs has skyrocketed over the past few decades. The richest people have reaped the rewards of America with a substantial head start. It's time we stopped sneering at those who were born with numerous obstacles in the way of their success, despite working as hard as they can, and give them some assistance when they are trying to get out of poverty for themselves and their families. When two people have vastly different lives, from poor schools to private, from poor nutrition to the best foods, from a home with little or no books or art to a home filled with them, from a neighborhood torn by violence and permeated with despair to one filled with beauty and nature, from knowing no one of consequence or wealth to being surrounded by and networking with such people, how in the world can we compare them and find one to be lazy, shiftless, and not trying hard enough while the other is a fine example of the American Dream?
Poor Americans grow up seeing so few escape poverty that they learn early on that the American Dream is a sham.
Immigrants come here believing in that Dream, not yet beaten down because everyone knew, where they grew up, that America is where you can get rich. They didn't believe that could happen where they grew up, and so it didn't.
Where do poor Americans go to believe in a dream of wealth that they've never seen happen? They are already in the place where people are supposed to get rich, yet it's never happened for them or anyone they knew. The only roads they see out of poverty are sports scholarships and selling drugs. So they either get killed in the drug trade, or risk serious injury pursuing sports, only to crash with no back up plan if they can no longer play. Poor women have even fewer choices.
The funding of schools with property taxes by neighborhood has insured that poor neighborhoods don't have quality schools. Often the teachers themselves don't believe the children can do well--so they don't challenge them. Poor kids learn early on that no one believes in them academically and so they don't believe in themselves. Their parents may be working more than one job and unable to help with homework. Crowded into a too-small home with siblings, there is no quiet place to focus on studies.
It is these kids who get penalized when society scorns them, scorns any programs that might help them, and writes them off as losers. When everyone around you expects you to lose, it is a rare person that can rise above that and win.
Then those rare people are held up as an example of how poor people could do it if they all just try hard enough.
The fact is, societies need poor people. Who would do the dangerous or crappy jobs for low pay if we didn't have a permanent underclass? That's why even those who want to "help" poor people make sure they don't help them too much. That's also why politicians are smart enough to know that if we really closed our borders to illegal immigrants, the price of food and goods would rise sharply, because there are some jobs even poor Americans aren't willing to do unless they pay much, much more. If the underclass is here to do the crap jobs, the illegal immigrants are a form of slave labor to do the impossible, the gross, the incredibly dangerous or painful jobs.
This is how America was built, literally. Each wave of immigrants took their place on the railroads, in the fields, in the meat-packing plants, in the garment factories and other such industries.
We all share in the karma as we enjoy our low-cost goods and services.