Socialism vs. capitalism? The editorial opinion in the July 12 Independent advocates strongly for capitalism. As emphasized by the writer, “The more socialism is favored over capitalism, the less prosperity and freedom.”

Then the writer insults the readers as ignorant (“haven’t taken the time to carefully study”) if they disagree with him. But he ignores the fact that no economy is “pure,” that every country provides some products or services through government programs.

Indeed, according to the 2017 Economic Freedom of the World Index, the United States ranks as the world’s 18th most capitalist country. The real question is how much capitalism/how much socialism and does one approach work better than the other in a given situation.

One such situation, financing medical care, seems to ignite the argument about capitalism vs. socialism.

FACT 1: The United States pays more as a percent of the economy, more per person and more in total dollars for medical care than any other country.

FACT 2: In return, we receive medical care that is ranked 37th in quality by the World Health Organization.

FACT 3: Out of the 33 developed countries in the world, only the U.S. does not have some form of universal health care. Even the 17 countries considered to be more capitalistic than the U.S. have universal health care.

Is there a problem? One group seems to think so and that universal health care is the solution (socialism). Another group says there is no problem (at least they propose no solution) and wants to completely return to the pre-Obama care system (capitalism). I am not advocating for any approach here, but I do believe that labels won’t advance the discussion.

Another hot-button issue is “free” post secondary education for all. There seems to be general agreement that post secondary education is important for the individual, to the U.S. economy and that it has become very expensive relative to past decades. The closest the U.S. has come to free education for many has been the GI Bills following World War II and subsequent conflicts. The result of these programs was not only a great boon to the individuals, but a work force that powered the economy through tremendous growth. Everyone benefitted.

Will making post secondary education free or more affordable for all end up benefitting everyone? I don’t know. Is it worth trying? I don’t know. But I am not rejecting the idea because it is labeled socialism. It seems worthy of a discussion.

There are other issues that can be added to the debate about the role of government in the economy. We should discuss all of them without taking the lazy shortcuts of using labels, name-calling or otherwise disrespecting those with whom we disagree. Maybe, then, we might arrive at some consensus.

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