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Friday, September 17, 2010

Is it time to consider social democracy? - Part 2

In Part 1, there was some brief background on where social democracy is practiced and the whys of its need. The two major items in the latter include hot buttons for the conservatives, particularly the Tea Party faction: welfare and free insurance. It’s the “Why should we give it away when I worked so hard for it.” mentality.

And much of this is based on the premise that the poor don’t want to work when they can just sit back and accept handouts. But experts are now saying that won’t hold up with the repression of social programs that actually assist the poor in finding work. As the pendulum swings, all these arguments are moot until it is decided just how government is planning to govern.

So what is a social democracy? Yes, it did spring from the socialist movement, and stayed very close to that ideology in many of the countries where it is practiced. But the literal development of a social democracy is the creation of a welfare state that combines capitalistic and socialistic institutions and practices. Kind of like what we already have in the reformation of democracy in the U.S. with the U.S. Postal Service, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid.

In a successful social democracy, the hypothesis is that if all its citizens have at least a minimum standard of living that is adequately above the poverty level, the whole country will thrive. This includes income, as well as housing and in most cases free medical care. The British Labour Party defines itself as a “democratic socialist party” and Gordon Brown and Tony Blair considered themselves social democrats.

Has the U.S. become so accustomed to the “good life” that we cannot understand that there are those in need, and that something must be done to allay these needs in order to stabilize the economy, as well as help our fellow human beings? This has become even more apparent in the recent downturn, and is now affecting those who once thought they were not vulnerable.

Part 3 tomorrow.

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