Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Politics and Popular Myths

My political persuasion leans toward equality for all, and helping humanity. If you can achieve those goals somehow, I'll likely vote your way. Recently I got into a debate on Facebook, as you do, regarding socialism and Bernie Sanders as seen in this VOX interview, and I learned a few things that dispelled myths. It was argued that under the Obama administration cost of living went up, gasoline prices rose, and unemployment was high besides massive tax hikes.  Here are the facts I learned:

Obama fact-check:

Unemployment Rate -- the unemployment rate when he entered office was 7.8  percent. After his first term in office Is was at 5.5 percent, a decline of 2.3 percentage points since the recession-plagued month of January 2009, when the president first took the oath of office.

Consumer Prices Overall inflation in consumer prices has remained moderate over Obama’s first six years, rising by only 11 percent between January 2009 and February, the most recent month for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the Consumer Price Index.  The average yearly rise under Obama of 1.9 percent is well below the post-World War II average of 3.7 percent. And thanks mainly to falling fuel prices, the CPI has actually dropped 0.8 percent since the last report.

Gasoline  The national average price of regular gasoline has rebounded somewhat since the plunge that took it down to just over $2 a gallon in January. As of the week ended March 30, it stood at $2.45, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
That’s 33 percent higher than the unusually low point at which it stood on Inauguration Day 2009, but also 32 percent lower than it had been at the end of March 2014. (In other words, it fluctuates. This fact is obvious if you notice how during peak traveling times such as holidays, gas prices soar).

Real Weekly Earnings As a result, the purchasing power of weekly paychecks took another big jump since our last report. The BLS measure of average weekly earnings for all workers, adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, was 3 percent higher in February than it was when Obama first took office. Most of that gain is recent. Real weekly earnings have gone up 2.5 percent since fuel prices started dropping last June.

Also in the list found here for all the tax hikes under Obama ( ) I didn't see any (unless I missed them) imposed on regular working class people. 

On Socialism and countries in which it has succeeded: 

Some socialist ideologies really speak to me, such as basic human equality. Also, it should be a right that every person has healthcare and food, I'm not saying people should not work, but what if those who cannot afford medical care so they go without? That, to me, is an injustice. 

Some countries who would be regarded as "socialist" would be the following ten: 
  • China
  • Denmark: 
Denmark has a wide range of welfare benefits that they offer their citizens. As a result, they also have the highest taxes in the world (to me, paying taxes to help myself and others is a noble cause). Equality is considered the most important value in Denmark. Small businesses thrive, with over 70 percent of companies having 50 employees or less.
  • Finland:
Finland has one of the world’s best education systems, with no tuition fees and also giving free meals to their students. The literacy rate in Finland is 100 percent (America is at 99%). Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Like Denmark and other European countries, equality is considered one of the most important values in society. 
  • Netherlands:
In the Netherlands, government control over the economy remains at a minimum, but a socialist welfare system remains. The lifestyle in the Netherlands is very egalitarian and organized, where even bosses do not discipline or treat their subordinates rudely.
  • Canada:
Like the Netherlands, Canada also has mostly a free market economy, but has a very extensive welfare system that includes free health and medical care. Canada is ranked as one of the best top five countries to live in by the United Nations and the Human Development Index (HDI) rankings.
  • Sweden
  • Norway:
In Norway, the government controls certain key aspects of the national economy, and they also have one of the best welfare systems in the world, with Norway having one of the highest standards of living in all of Europe. 
  • Ireland:
Ireland has arguably one of the best welfare systems in the world. Around 25 percent of Ireland’s GDP goes towards paying for the welfare system, as compared to 15 percent of America’ GDP towards America’s social support programs.
  • New Zealand:
New Zealand may not be a socialist country, but the welfare system in the country is very wide ranging, offering support for housing, unemployment, health, child care, and education as well. Therefore, New Zealand has many of the characteristics of a socialist country, even while remaining officially free market.
  • Belgium:
Lastly, Belgium has most of the same social security benefits that New Zealand offers, including invalid and old age pensions. 

Despite popular myths, there is very little connection between economic performance and welfare expenditure. Many of the countries on this list are proof of that, such as Denmark and Finland. Even though both countries are more socialistic than America, the workforce remains stronger.

These are evidence they a) you can keep a free market and still have programs to help the people b) not be classified as "socialist" in a technical sense and still utilize government support c) proof that small businesses won't cease to exist (if using the Denmark model) d) the workforce in a country will be better off, happier etc with assurance that they can get help (be that unemployment checks, paid maternity leave, paid vacation, general healthcare, medical and prescriptions). It makes the quality of life and satisfaction therein better. 

Yes, some of those countries have bigger flaws than others, but it is a system that can be useful, can work, and I do not see why people hate the idea of helping their fellow man through taxes. People are obviously not helping everyone who needs it without government intervention!

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