I don’t want to get too into this right now, I just want to get my thoughts out on it. I’m sick of people thinking that liberals or anyone who supports Bernie Sanders or Democratic Socialism wants everything handed to them. I don’t want everything handed to me. I appreciate the feeling of accomplishment and pride that working to support myself gives. I don’t even want free college (though cheaper college would be good).
No, what I really want are valid safety nets and good social programs. I want people to be able to take monetary risks (like starting a business or a family or investing) without fear of becoming homeless and dying. I want to be able to go rollerblading without fearing I may bankrupt myself by breaking my arm. I want to know that if I do break my arm and can’t work, I won’t end up on the streets. I want to know that in the future when automation kills half the jobs, that I don’t have to worry about being mugged by some poor former McDonald’s employee that’s just trying to survive.
I want my taxes to go to things that help other people. I want universal healthcare. I want universal basic income (which would do away with the minimum wage). Quite frankly, those two programs would eliminate the need for a lot of others (housing assistance, energy assistance, Medicaid/Medicare, Title X funding, food stamps etc). I also want my taxes to be spent wisely on these services. We spend a shit ton of money both on healthcare and on education, but our country is still ranking far below other countries in both areas, and that’s because our tax dollars are not being spent wisely. I think that’s a whole ‘nother discussion, though.
I’m also not advocating against “personal responsibility.” I do think that people should support themselves and their families, wait until they’re ready to have kids, etc. But the fact is that we live in the real world and shit happens. Hard work does not guarantee success. Sometimes you can do all the planning in the world, and then your spouse dies and you have to support your kids on your own. Sometimes you’re at the top of the corporate ladder and you fall ill or a family member falls ill and you have to take care of them and you lose your job. Sometimes your house burns down and you didn’t have insurance so now you’re homeless and broke.
We need safety nets for the shit that happens. It benefits everyone, even the people that are not directly receiving aid. In a society where people don’t have to resort to crime in order to feed themselves, in a society where everyone is educated, in a society where people don’t have to worry about their livelihood due to factors beyond their control (like illness, layoffs, natural disastors, etc) there is less crime which means you’re less likely to be stabbed or robbed. It also means that if something happens to YOU you’re taken care of.
Capitalism can live happily with little bits of socialism sprinkled in. People who strive for more can get it, and people who don’t can comfortably live in mediocrity without starving to death or having to resort to violence to get what they need.