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The closer we get to what I predict will be our most contentious election on Nov. 3, 2020, the word "socialist" will increasingly be used to label many candidates seeking political office. The S-word sends shivers down the spine of many Americans.

It may be a shock to those who freely use the term socialist to denigrate candidates, but socialism has been alive in America since 1776. Truth be known, socialism was greatly catapulted upon Americans by a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), when he instituted “The Progressive Era.”

Steve Corbin

Steve Corbin

What is socialism? Simply stated, socialism is taxpayer funds being used collectively to benefit society as a whole. The streets and roads we drive on are taxpayer-funded; thank you President Dwight Eisenhower (R) for your Interstate Highway System Act of 1956.

If you ever go to a public library, museum, park, beach, monument, zoo, jail or prison, yup, it’s funded by America’s socialist program. Don’t forget the police, sheriff, highway patrol, fire department and post office are also collective tax- funded ownership entities.

Farmers use pooled taxpayer money to get loans and they receive farm subsidies to grow food. The FBI, CIA, Secret Service and our revered IRS are also taxpayer-funded syndicated agencies.

USA’s military is the largest public funded socialist program in the world. When we go to war, paying to fight isn’t possible without pooled resources. In return to veterans protecting our country they receive Uncle Sam funded health care, the G.I. Bill and loan assistance.

America’s three most coveted socialist programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, account for 47.2 percent of the federal budget. Let’s not forget about fed-funded public education and 30.3 million children, who live in poverty, receive free or reduced-price lunches. Nearly 60 percent of college students receive government supported student loans and grants.

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Other socialist-supported programs include: Department of Agriculture, Pentagon, Center for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, FEMA, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Department of Homeland Security, OSHA, Department of Health and Human Services, Census Bureau, Department of Energy, EPA, Customs and Border Protection, Peace Corps, Department of Justice and National Weather Service.

How did the water, sewer and garbage services you used today come into existence? Have you ever received a vaccine or medical service where part or all of it was not paid by insurance? Most likely local, state and federal shared tax resources paid the tab.

When our government bails out a bank or gives a subsidy to a small business or a billion dollar corporation, it is what it is, socialism. From the Supreme Court to the local courts, our White House (don’t tell the 45th president), legislators and public defenders, they all operate due to communal taxpayer money.

When you hear someone label a person as a socialist, simply ask them if they partake in any of the above 58 mentioned local, state and federally taxpayer subsidized services? Their answer may reveal their street smarts, ignorance or their radical and no-hope-of-returning-to-reality political brainwashing.

Speaking of reality, let’s admit America is the most unique and successful democratic, socialist and capitalist tripartite country in the world. Socialism, which we’ve been told to fear, benefits Americans more so than many citizens may want to admit.

There are some socialist ideas that, at first blush, sound fantastic, such as free college education, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. But, as a centrist, we can’t even think of, let alone afford them, until both Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree to dramatically reduce our $22 trillion federal deficit and, for several consecutive years, be fiscally responsible with America’s annual capital and operating budgets.

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Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. Reach him at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.

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