April 10, 2014

 The Caledonia Record

By: Walter Carpenter, Montpelier

Mr. Tom Licata's letter "Subversive goals" (Caledonian Record 3/26/2014) made this reader curious to his intentions. In this letter Mr. Licata suggests that socialism as a political movement is committing treason against our "Constitutional Republic."

I was curious for several reasons. One is when he quoted Senator Bernie Sanders when asked about his being a democratic socialist by Bill O'Reilly in a March 14 interview. "What it means [Sen. Sanders replied] is that we have a lot to learn from democratic-socialist governments.where all people have health-care as a right; where higher education is free;.where they don't have the massive type of income and wealth inequality that we have in the United States of America."

Senator Sanders is correct. These nations do not have the gigantic income disparity we have here; they do not have the intractable poverty we do and its accompanying social ills. Some 45,000 of their citizens do not perish annually from lack of access to affordable health care as in this country.

I wondered why this is treason according to Mr. Licata. Is it because these things help the public? Then what about fire departments, police departments, or public libraries? These, too, are socialistic enterprises which are a treasonous redistribution of wealth "subject to social control," even though they do much good for the public, including Mr. Licata. Does America's "constitutional order" mean that it is fine to give corporations excessive tax loopholes which redistribute taxpayer wealth by robbing them of it to the tune of $154 billion in 2013 (http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate-welfare-tax-breaks-subsidies/).-- a massive welfare system larger than any food stamp program could ever hope to be?

It is difficult to see how health care being a public good for all Vermonters (Mr. Licata included) is subverting the constitution. The preamble of this venerable document does instruct the new government it creates to "promote the general welfare." While this is, of course, open to numerous interpretations like so much of the constitution, it is also what democratic socialism does in a democratic manner.

Is the public getting to share in this democracy a "contemptible" goal to Mr. Licata? I wondered.