REALITY CHECK: DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM

Do these words scare you?  Read on…

We are living in a capitalistic society, where profit rules everything. Capitalism exploits workers to benefit shareholders. Taken to its extreme, profits for the wealthy become obscene while the lower classes become squeezed out of housing markets and are forced to have multiple jobs with inconsistent hours and no benefits to survive. True democracy offers everyone a voice through a representative system. While America is a democracy, many would argue that  many voices never get represented.

Democratic socialism is a system where ordinary people have a real voice in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and society. It is the optimum compromise between democracy and socialism and would include considering people as well as profits, like we did in the 40’s and 50’s, when unions had a seat at the table.  Workers need to have their voices represented in corporations.  After all, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu. 

Democratic socialism increases business investment and production and includes more women and minorities at the table. Benefits include an increase in profit, innovation, and communication between management and workers. Severe income inequality might be good for those at the top, but it is not healthy for our society and our economy. The last time it was this extreme was before the Great Depression.  

From SpendMeNot, 41.4% of Americans are classified as low-income or low-income families. The top 1% earns forty times more than the bottom 90%. From 2000 to 2018, the average salary for workers in America rose only 17% (while productivity rose 72%). Statista claims that “the average S&P 500 CEO made $15.5 million in 2021, 299 times the pay of the median worker, with Aptiv Plc boss Kevin Clark making 5,294 times his median employees’ pay”. 

In the last 40 years, productivity has increased 4 times more than worker pay. If unions were stronger and more people were properly represented, everyone would have enjoyed increases in pay.  

Those in power are working to ensure that they stay in charge by gerrymandering, purging opposition votes, and allowing dark money to elect similar candidates. They have no platform except to suppress the number of liberal voters. Democratic Socialists want reforms like universal health care, transition to clean energy sources, modified police budgets to include funding community support, a more just life for all Americans.

Most of us enjoy the social benefits of the FDR era, like highways, national parks and Social Security. I venture that none of us are in the 1%. We want a democracy and a society, powered by everyday people, that benefits us all.  The only way we can regain a larger voice is to elect democratic legislators.

REALITY CHECK: WHITE PRIVILEGE

White privilege doesn’t mean that your life hasn’t been hard. It just means that the color of your skin isn’t making it harder. Do you have white privilege? Recognizing it doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong. Awareness of it is the first step in doing your part to make our world a better place.

The dictionary defines privilege as “a special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class or caste”. It is an unearned power that has been systematically conferred upon you. There are many kinds of privilege in this world, but let’s look at white privilege today. Check off the ones that apply to you.

  • If I need to move, the color of my skin won’t be held against me.
  • If I am shopping, I won’t be suspected of shoplifting.
  • I’m pretty sure that my neighbors will act neutrally or positively to me.
  • My name isn’t held against me when I submit a job application.
  • When I read books, most of the characters are white.
  • When I select human emojis, most of them are white.
  • I can go out at night without fear of being stopped or reported because of the color of my skin.
  • I never had to worry about my next meal or a roof over my head.
  • My teachers and administrators were mostly white.
  • My political representatives are mostly white.
  • I have never been ”redlined” out of a mortgage.
  • I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  • I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  • If I ask to speak to the manager, they will usually be white.
  • I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

So, let’s look at this as an opportunity to learn and be responsible so that we can work towards a more just and inclusive world. What actions can you take?

  • Educate yourself by reading articles, books, studies and other online resources.
  • Demand your workplace, school and other structured environments ensure inclusion and equity at every level.
  • End or re-evaluate relationships with white people who consciously self-segregate from people of color or express racist attitudes.
  • Hold public officials accountable for ending racial profiling, stop-and-frisk policies, police brutality and the shooting unarmed people of color.
  • When it’s clear that preferential treatment is given to whites over people of color in public accommodations, call for fairness.
  • Support commissions that research the effects of slavery on blacks in America and reparations for them.