There are so many errors, misunderstandings and falsehoods in the conservative media— including a recent letter to the editor in this newspaper, regarding socialism, immigration and border security — it is difficult to know where to begin.
First off, the countries in Latin America that people are fleeing are not socialist. These countries historically, and continue, to have an imbalance where the top 10 percent control 90 percent of the wealth and power. Government corruption is rampant and attempts at true democracy are squashed. True, the last two presidents of Venezuela invoked the words socialism, but that never truly happened. They won the people’s vote because the people were desperate for change, but in the end the people received more of the same but with even less democracy than before.
These people are fleeing their countries because they have very limited economic opportunity, and gangs, militias and sometimes their own government will not hesitate to kill them.
Secondly, we are all “Socialists” to some degree or another — many of us just don’t realize it.
Most of us have received some benefit from wealth redistribution. The local taxes my parents paid probably did not fully pay for my education. Federal and state money, much of it collected from those with much higher incomes, covered a portion of it. Airports and highways are heavily subsidized by the federal government. This way, although the size may differ by the number of terminals or lanes, commercial airports and highways are built to the same standard no matter the state or county. The price of an airline ticket would drastically increase without those subsidies and there would be fewer airports.
We all benefit from government spending on services that try to level the playing field on things such as air and water quality, fair banking and credit laws, services for the elderly or handicapped, food safety and much more.
Just as important is health care. Whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits or, in Connecticut, Husky, we all know hardworking low-income people who rely on government funded health insurance. As a society this is important because sick people get other people sick. Sick people can’t work. Sick family members force healthy family members to miss work. Unfortunately, many in the middle class earn too much to obtain the government provided insurance but work for companies that provide no insurance or offer insurance so expensive they cannot afford it.
Medical expenses are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. We need a little more socialism here by providing Medicare for all. Yes, there is an expense today but I believe there will also be huge savings in the long run. And who can argue with the idea of a hard working family who has played by the rules never being forced into bankruptcy for no fault of their own, ever again?
Maybe the definition of socialism shouldn’t be “when it benefits me it’s good government policy but when it benefits those below me economically, it’s bad policy.”
And finally, Open Borders is a Republican scare tactic (and a lie) and is not, nor has it ever been a Democratic position. Fact: The Obama administration tried to drastically increase the size of the border patrol. Fact: The Republicans shot it down for that stated reason that it would add to the deficit. Snarky Comment: But today, what’s adding another $5.7 billion on an already exploding deficit?
Fact: show me a 50-foot wall and someone will make a 60-foot ladder or a 500-foot tunnel. There are places where walls or fences are appropriate. Fact: They already exist.
Building walls across the mountains of Big Bend or the meandering flood plain of the Rio Grande is the definition of insanity. We should increase the size of the border patrol and we should invest in more and better screening devices at all entry points, to the north and south and our seaports and airports. The vast majority of illegal drugs enter the country in the back of a truck or shipping container. And we should buy the border patrol a few hundred helicopters. I believe we have a supplier nearby.
And the next time someone in government tells us we need to interfere in other countries we don’t understand; please remember why all of today’s refugees, no matter where they’re from, are endangering their lives and their children’s lives to flee their homeland. American involvement in many of these countries is a historical fact, whether it’s supporting anti-communist dictators in Latin America or overthrowing a Middle East government in order to gain control of their oil.
I am not an isolationist; however these decisions need to be based on all the facts including who will benefit economically, what our exit plan is and not just the military equation.
Peter Hargett is a member of the Meriden Democratic Town Committee.
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