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This is first of a series on social democracy.
Later entries: http://www.dailykos.com/...
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Before our country decides the future of Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs, the country has to make a decision.  Should we have a society that has a system of social supports that keep people from destitution and promotes broad safety, education, and and opportunity for everyone?

This sort of society has been called social democracy.  Many better off countries have some measure of it, maybe most successfully in the Scandinavian countries.  In the United States many of the aspects of society associated with the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt are part of this idea.

In fact, social democracy has been very successful.  Social Security and Medicare have been successful in their goals and are very popular.  In many surveys of social happiness or success, the Scandinavian countries are at the top.

Note that social democracy is not the same as the classic idea of socialism where every economic entity is part of the government.  Both classic socialism and libertarianism are attempts to solve all problems with a simple principle.  Such simplicity does not work in real human societies, and is actually a lazy cop out to avoid the continuing intellectual and cultural work needed to maintain any sort of decent society.  Classic socialism ends up with the government being in effect one giant monopoly corporation.  Libertarianism is worse.  It claims to get rid of government power, but in practice wealth, and the power that goes with wealth, becomes more and more concentrated.  We end up with plutocratic oligarchy that has no accountability but all the power.

Our country has to make a decision about whether to pursue a social democratic society.  There are a lot of people who philosophically oppose such a society.  But what is the alternative?  If our country continues on its present course, we will end up with that plutocratic oligarchy, with most of the middle class reduced to powerless working class plagued by low wages and unemployment.  The forces of technology and globalization can push us in that direction if we let it.  This is closer to the historical norm for societies, but we have seen that it does not have to be that way.

The forces of technology in the future will greatly change the job situation.  Right now our society has no idea what to do if technology replaces a large percentage of its jobs.

The opponents of social democracy are frightened that somehow someone somewhere might get something that they don not deserve.  The danger of undeserved benefits is less than the danger of most of society becoming poor and powerless.  The authors of the Bill of Rights decided that the danger of an innocent person being convicted is greater than the danger of a guilty person being acquitted, and created the rule of innocent unless proven guilty.  A decent society needs to have the same rule in the economic sphere.  Maybe someday a population that sees itself sinking into powerlessness might agree.

Originally posted to Thutmose V on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 12:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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