Socialism, we dare not speak its name

Every fall as municipal elections draw nigh, I dutifully read the election statements of the candidates seeking positions on the council of the city where I spend most of my time and treasure.  Yes they are all in favor of better communications, efficiency and accountability and they all have their pet projects such as affordable housing, daycare and zoning issues etc. but none of them so far are campaigning on privatizing any of the many goods and services that the city delivers to it citizens.  Therefore I conclude that they are all a bunch of socialists.

All municipal governments are essentially socialist.  That is, their primary responsibility is to deliver goods and services to their citizens through an infrastructure that is owned by the municipal government.

The list is a long one.  Streets, sidewalks, parks, recreational facilities, fire departments, libraries, water and sewer treatment plants, garbage disposal sites as well as transit buses are all owned and managed by the city state.  Schools, hospitals, nursing homes and subsidized housing are publicly owned but generally governed by separate boards.  My city buys electricity from a socialist Power Corporation and delivers it through socialist power lines to city residences and businesses..

We all benefit from other socialist programs as well.  Police, Medicare and social services for example are paid for through taxation and delivered by either our provincial or federal government.

I would be surprised if any of Canada’s many city councilors or mayors would describe themselves as being socialists.  Frankly I would be surprised if any of them that think of themselves as socialists would openly declare that they are socialists.

Think of it for a moment.  Most of the things in life that we hold nearest and dearest are provided through socialism.  We can send our children to school or go to visit our doctor and no one sends us a bill. We are also guaranteed a minimum standard of living and it is all paid for though taxes.  And yet, socialism, we dare not speak its name.

Socialism of course depends on our ability and willingness to pay taxes. And yet the good name of taxes is being sullied unmercifully by those who benefit the most from having them lowered.  “Get governments out of our face,” they say, “the less government the better because I can spend my money better than the government can.”

One of the problems with tax cuts is that the government has no control over how the tax saving is spent.  How is a tax cut going to build a highway or reduce health care waiting time for example?  The second problem is that the wealthy benefit the most from tax cuts and the poor (who often don’t pay taxes) get very little of the benefit.

So our governments reduce taxes and social spending and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us gets wider and wider.

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