I feel obligated to introduce a countervailing voice to some of the recent opinion pieces published here that have been critical of contemporary progressive politics. It is not my intention to direct any insults at individuals or to demean another’s beliefs. I do feel that I must point out the following about Walter Williams’ letter from March 29:

Comparing Bernie Sanders — a secular Jew whose family members perished in the holocaust — to Hitler is totally intellectually dishonest and cannot go uncontested. His very publicly espoused policy ideas are that of social democracy. Not communism; not socialism. He is a huge advocate for the capitalist Nordic Model embodied by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, etc. The benefits of these countries are not free; they are largely paid for by fair, progressive taxation along all tax brackets. If you are going to quote MLK Jr., please remember when he critically declared that America already has “socialism for the rich” and “rugged free enterprise for the poor.” Economic populist reform and massive re-distribution of wealth has always been the cornerstone of the civil rights movement in this country.

Equating communism and socialism to social democracy as if they are all the same is a popular tactic for dividing the working class and maintaining the status quo. With the rise of the working poor, lack of social benefits and increasing spread of diseases of despair, it is clear that the current system has failed us. Continuing to propagate the myths of the “free market” and discredited Reagan style “trickle-down” economics is not only factually wrong — it causes suffering for millions of Americans. People are dying so that a small minority of others may get richer. Champions of progressive policies are simply demanding fair social justice for all Americans.

Branch Richter

Banner Elk

Recommended for you

(3) comments

hmanooch@gmail.com

Dear Donald

So you admit you benefited from the policies of FDR called The New Deal, right? You don't have to call it socialism or social democracy. You can call it common sense policies. *isms are theoretic constructs that help in defining a situation for discussion but never reach the actual complexity of real life in real nature, which does not operate strictly within theoretical constructs. Whatever system of society or government you have, you must protect against the accumulation of power within a limited number of individuals who will abuse that power. Monarchies, so called socialist systems, so called democracies all governmental and social systems are subject to degradation if they are not kept in tune to serve their stated purpose. Communist Russia was not a socialist system because it served the interests of those in power such as Stalin. It also had to spend untold wealth in fighting its enemy, the so called capitalist system that was devoted to and finally succeeded in its destruction. Free market capitalism is a myth and has never existed. I challenge you to show me an example of a free market capitalist entity either in existence now or having ever existed. Without regulation, any entity that gains the smallest amount of power uses that power to advance its own interests and will destroy any competitor as soon as possible; this includes influencing so called democratic electoral systems and regulatory systems designed to protect the general population. Boeing was deregulated to the point where it committed mass murder. This is the plain truth. I'm an Air Force Veteran. You don't put an aircraft in the air without redundant safety systems to protect the investment in the aircraft and its personnel! This happened because of the orchestrated degradation of our regulatory systems by profiteers. People are trying to get to those north western european nations from Africa and asia and even parts of europe but are not being allowed in. They're freezing and dying in refugee camps just across the borders from those nations. Even you may not be allowed in if you tried to become a citizen of those nations. Believe me; I've inquired about it; it's not as easy as buying a ticket and suddenly you're a citizen of Sweden, Switzerland or Luxembourg. And don't forget, those countries benefitted for centuries from exploiting the natural resources of Asia, Africa and the Americas, otherwise they'd be in worse shape than we're in now. I suggest you open your horizons a bit and teach yourself a bit about the true nature of history rather than be propagandized by a very limited source of misinformation like Fox news or Rush Limbaugh. Do you ever ask yourself if your sources of information are trustworthy or do they have an agenda to control your opinion and vote?

I regret that Sanders chose to call himself a democratic socialist. But he may have done it deliberately. He may never have intended to become president of the U. S.; only to absorb and dissipate the opposition to the status quo. Why are all the media calling it SOCIAL distancing when it should be called PHYSICAL distancing. Could it be because it stigmatizes socialism? What does social distancing mean? I can be mouth to mouth with someone and socially distant if I'm raping them. But if Ik'm physically distant, I can still be safely socially close.

I'm getting tired. You search out your own knowledge.

Good luck and stay safe.

Donald

Mr. Richter, you are supporting the myth that Democratic Socialism is not communism and socialism! If our American free market economic system is so mean and restricting, why are hundreds of thousands of immigrants trying to come here and no one is trying to leave for those Baltic and Nordic countries? Thank our God Almighty and our founding fathers that recognized that a freedom loving populace wants and enjoys the hope of success in whatever our dreams, as individuals might be. Many, many of our citizens and immigrants began life in our country poor or less that Middle Class and because of our freedoms and free market opportunities, they advanced in knowledge and talents resulting in achieving their dreams. Not just to become wealthy, but to work in a field they love and have families that also contributes to the families and society. Mr. Richter, socialism breeds laziness and unfulfilled dreams! I've got a suggestion, why not move to Sweden or one of those wonderful countries -- you have the freedom to do so, so do it and enjoy those Democratic Socialistic nations, if that is what they really are. I think you might find that their actually have a free market economy, in addition to some socialistic benefits they pay for with very high taxation on their hard earned incomes. For me, I began life in the middle of the Great Depression, my parents had little to no income until after WWII, then a very moderate income as a fireman, then began my adult life after a great experience in a small high school, then community college, 4 years in our military, then upper division education before a career as a marketing executive in corporate America before retiring in our beautiful Appalachian mountain community along with family and friends. Not wealthy financially, but very wealthy in love for our Lord, family, friends and happiness from achieving my dreams! When I realized I needed some education, job with benefits, health care and room to achieve, I went out and "got it" and did not just glide along waiting for a government to give things to me for free! This is what makes our nation's free enterprise systems and Americans special and the envy of most of the world!

Branch

Hi Donald,

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and to post your response. I am happy to hear your story of success, and appreciate your candidness. I cannot imagine the difficult times that my fellow Americans must have faced during the Great Depression. You were fortunate, however, in coming of age in the early post-war period. This is often cited as the most productive and prosperous time in American history. But times have changed. The average full-time worker in 1957 earned $4,700 a year – that amounts to around $43,300 in today’s buying power. For comparison, let’s look at the average salary of today’s Starbucks barista, who receives as much, if not more, specialized job training than an auto worker in the 1950’s. At less than $10 an hour, they are making around $18,000 a year gross. Wages have not even kept up with inflation, let alone grown for the average American worker. Since the 1980’s, employees have increasingly gone from being a company’s greatest asset to being viewed as its greatest liability. The size of our economy has more than doubled in the last three decades, but the wealth generated by this economy increasingly goes to the top. CEO’s that used to make twenty times the salary of their average employees now make well over two-hundred times more. For the first time in America, my generation is set to make less money and even live shorter lives than the previous one. I didn’t witness the Great Depression firsthand, but I finished school just as the Great Recession gripped this country, and I was just laid off due to COVID-19, which is totaling our economy; compounding the adverse effects of an already unjust system. We must overcome our knee-jerk reaction to fear anything with the word “social” in its title. I don’t desire to burn anything down. As you rightly point out, the Social Democratic system of Scandinavia is capitalist in nature. But no market is “free.” Rules and regulations are necessary to make any market function, but over time the rules have been re-written to benefit the few; not the many. Positing a novel solution to a novel problem does not diminish my patriotism – I love this country and wish to see it thrive. I’m ninth generation Southern Appalachian, and I don’t intend to go anywhere.

Thanks again,

-Branch

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.