“A fire that is not put out affects the entire neighborhood”

By Mark 

Editors’ note: This is a response to Mila’s post

Dear Mila,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

I read your story, and I see my own story. My parents’ political views are very similar to your own, but I find some of their – and your – conclusions troubling. For example, both of my grandparents had Medicare, Social Security, and other benefits. Without them, it would have been impossible for my mother, their daughter, to have a job, as she would have to care for the both of them. My grandparents did not work a single day in this country. My sister and I went to public school, the cost of which was spread out amongst all the taxpayers. I feel that the Socialism you talk about, let’s call it Soviet Socialism, is different from the Socialism that exists in the West.

I think we can all agree that Medicare and Social Security is a good thing. Just like we can probably agree that free education is a good thing. Surely we have issues with all of these programs. Medicare does not cover all things, Social Security is not a lot, and public education quality varies greatly by neighborhood. There was a time when we did not have these programs, and life was far worse. Social Security was born because seniors who did not work were destitute. Medicare was born because we decided as a society to provide a safety net for the inevitable high cost of healthcare for retirees. These programs work alongside our free market system, to help with things that do not follow free market rules.

My brother-in-law and his wife have an autistic child and another one with special needs. Currently we have laws that help them get free services for their kids. Without them they would be destitute.

When my friend was pregnant, her doctor told her and her husband that the baby has a heart defect. The boy just turned two and he is doing great, but he has had two surgeries and has a pre-existing condition. How will he get health insurance. Is he condemned to be poor before he can even speak?

Western Socialism is about people pooling their money together and making services cheaper for all people. We all, like your husband, can suddenly be hit by a car or two. Would it not be prudent for us as a society to protect ourselves from the things we cannot control? We are not paying into Medicare and Social Security for charity. These are things that we will all need. We are not paying for public school for fun. We used it, are using it or will use it. And for those who do not, who wants to live in a neighborhood where the kids don’t go to school? I don’t think it would be safe. We don’t pay firefighters because we know we will have a fire, we pay them because we know that when there is a fire the firefighters will come and help us.

I find the fire analogy especially fitting, because a fire that is not put out affects the entire neighborhood. I don’t want to live in a world where seniors starve because they don’t have enough money for food. I don’t want to live in a country where people have to choose to forgo treatment for disease because the cure would leave their families destitute, where there are bands of uneducated youth running around and making trouble, where you can’t send your kids to school because you owe money to the hospital. We can do better than that.

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