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Clarifying socialism

Dear editor:

A lot of comments on Facebook and other social media and in letters to the editor of many newspapers are being made about the evils of "socialism." It has in recent months become a "catchword" in politics. Much of that being written and said is totally incorrect about the meaning of the word.

Allow me to quote from the reputable "Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History": Socialism is a political theory of social organization advocating "limits" on the private ownership of industry. It covers a wide range of positions from "communism" at one extreme to "social democracy" at the other. Most socialists believe that the community as a whole should own and control the means of production, distribution, and exchange to ensure a more equitable division of a nation's wealth, in the form of state ownership of industry, or ownership by the workers themselves. Social democracy supports capitalism along with various programs, like "welfare programs and social security programs, along with guaranteed health programs shared in cost by citizens."

It is plain to those in the know that our country began adding social programs during the 1930s, a period known as the Great Depression. The first, Old Age Survivors Insurance (now known as Social Security) began in 1935, a program paid for through workers' contributions. Welfare programs, like the Food Stamp program, have been added, paid for with tax money from citizens.

Medicare Care was added in the 1960s, after much disagreement in Congress, paid for through workers' contributions and business contributions. Medicaid was later added for poverty-stricken and paid for by citizen taxes. There is a current discussion in politics that Medicare should be made universal, or, argues another side that it should be improved and extended, still paid for by workers' contribution. These various programs make our country a "social democracy" but not a "socialist" country in the full sense of the word "socialism."

It is extremely misleading for ads, billboards, and social media comments to use the word "socialism" in a universal manner. A friend of mine who contributes a Sunday column to this paper discusses "socialism" as something that would morally bankrupt the United States in the Oct. 4 issue, 7A. He quotes a common definition of "socialism," but he cites the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela as socialist countries, writing that we can see that socialism has left nothing but disaster in its wake." I have no argument with the gist of his statement, but the first four of those five countries were and are "communist," the extreme of "socialism." Making inclusive statements about "socialism" in this manner presents an incomplete picture. And for those concerned about religion as a part of socialism, it is not banned as it is in communist countries. Even in communist countries a certain amount of religion is allowed, though it is controlled by the state heavily.

These words are written as an attempt to clarify, not confuse, nor to argue one position or the other. I am an American, believing in capitalism, but acknowledging that social programs can and do work well in balancing our economy. Putting the state in control of the entire economy would likely fail and not be what our founders promoted in our Constitution.

John W. "Doc" Crawford

Hot Springs

Cost of shortsightedness

Dear editor:

Lumber is a manufactured product that comes from trees growing for many decades and even hundreds of years. In the past, loggers and sawmills have kept the lumber and paper supply going at a steady pace. The USDA Forest Service, timber companies and private landowners managed a supply of timber for a sustained yield.

The consumers that opposed logging helped to shut down sawmills and eliminated the loggers, their operations and they even having to sell their equipment. Between 1996 and 2002, 119 sawmills closed in the United States with many in Arkansas. Revenues for schools and communities stopped. Now there is a wood product and lumber shortage and prices are sky-rocking multifold. There is not an adequate supply chain to feed those trying to work on home projects during the pandemic and not enough to rebuild the thousands of homes damage by storms and fires, nor to salvage the millions of trees killed. There is inadequate sawmills and loggers to salvage the millions of acres of timber that has been killed by forest fires and the 6.3 billion trees killed by beetles.

Aldo Leopold said that we are in trouble when people think that heat comes from the stove and milk comes from the milkman. That is exactly where we are, we are in trouble. This shortsighted consumer ideology will keep consumers paying for their lack of connectivity insight for decades to come.

Jerry Davis

Hot Springs

Ignoring the facts

Dear editor:

Mr. Jim Davidson's Sunday column decrying socialism ignored two quite evident facts: the vast number of popular socialistic transfer payments existing in America including SSI, Medicare, Medicaid.

His writing also had no mention of the result of his favored capitalism the wealth distribution within America. The 1% of the wealthiest Americans owning 40% of America's wealth and the top 10% owning 75% of America's wealth. The rest of his listed reasons are merely opinions without facts.

It is quite easy to understand why the young he speaks of favor socialism when America's wealth is held so inequitably. Taxes passes by our current president continue this pattern.

Bill and Joyce Fritz

Hot Springs

Choosing our steps

Dear editor:

Once upon a time in a country far across the sea, there lived a nation of people who were typical of humans everywhere. They married and gave in marriage; they sold and bought; some worshipped in churches on Saturday or Sunday, and some did not believe in a higher power.

Some did good things, and some did evil things, and no one was perfect. Many loved their fellow people, cared for the sick, fed the hungry, while some did not care about others. Some were selfish, some were generous.

Their nation was pretty much like any other nation on the face of the earth. The masses wanted to "make Germany great again."

Nazi power began its rise in about 1930. Some believed their promises. Those who could read the signs arose each morning more disturbed about what they were seeing and hearing, more afraid that their lives were about to be changed for the worse, more aware that their homes and businesses were in grave danger.

The Jews, especially, realized early that they were targets of physical and psychological oppression. Unless they supported this new religion called Nazism, they were doomed. Many were not given the opportunity to change their religion, even if they had wanted to do so. They were Jews, and they were not to be trusted. They were an inferior race. Millions were rounded up and transported to labor camps and to furnaces that burned on human fuel. A million and a half were children.

Although there are still some who deny that these things ever happened, people with an ordinary helping of brains and logic know that this is a true story. Those who think that it is a fairy tale have difficulty separating truth from fiction in many other ways.

Unfortunately, there are some who sit on the fence like mugwumps. They believe that such things happened, but they also believe that God, the one who made us all of one blood, was the author of this evil, ignoring the Scripture that denies that God could be such. Their understanding of sin and the punishment for it leads them to see what happened to these pitiful creatures as being God's intentional will. Their error lies in the fact that they do not understand that God permits some things to happen but does not cause them to happen. They wonder what monstrous wrongdoing on the Jews' part could have brought this on, that God would use Hitler as an instrument to cleanse their lives -- permanently.

Today, as always, evil leaders -- inept, lying, egotistical, narcissistic, self-serving, self-centered -- are not placed in office by God. They are put there by voters -- those who cast their ballots for them, and those who do not bother to go to the polls. If we do not vote, we elect by neglect.

In matters of government, we are allowed to choose our own steps. We must pay the price for our mistakes if we choose wrong.

C.G. Smith

Hot Springs

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