Proud To Be A Socialist

Swimwatch was a blog idea first suggested by a mate of mine, Edward. His thought was that the sport of swimming could do with an independent opinion. I agreed. Since then the blog has focused on swimming but has also ventured into the world of track and field, rugby, tennis and general sport’s administration. Occasionally my political views have been revealed in my sporting opinions. But what I have never done is publish an exclusively political essay. Today that will change. It will change because I have become increasingly annoyed at right-wing Americans who slag-off my country, New Zealand, by calling the socialist political philosophy we follow with every abusive name they can find.

So what does being a socialist country mean? Wel,l in addition to the normal collective functions of government such as providing roads, paying for the justice system and providing a military presence, socialism means society has a collective responsibility for its weakest members. And that’s where we differ from a society like the United States. Socialists accept the principle that we have a collective national duty to pay for those of us who are weak and vulnerable. In particular that means society will pay to look after the young, the sick and the elderly.

First the young – what does looking after the young mean? It means providing free education for all. It means providing the means by which young people can mature and learn to be strong and independent. And yes it means giving young people the skills they can use to provide for future generations of young people. It also means that the provision of free education should not stop when a young person gets to university or technical college. Society has a responsibility to provide free education until an individual’s education is completed.

Second the sick – what does looking after the sick mean? I know maternity care is not an illness but caring for the sick means providing state medical care from birth to death for everyone. I was appalled to discover that giving birth in the United States costs a family $10,000 rising to $30,000 by the time pre-birth and after-birth care was included. When I first went to live in the United States it took me years to get my head around the changed function of a hospital. Growing up in NZ I was used to looking on hospitals as a service society provided. Then in the US hospitals were no longer a service. They were factories where doctors went to make a profit. Socialism means rejecting the profit motive and preserving the social service of medical care. And not only hospitals but doctors visits and prescriptions as well.

And finally the elderly. Even socialist NZ has more that it could do in this area. Society should look after those who are no longer able to work. Housing and food for the elderly should be society’s payment for the years the elderly have contributed to the welfare of others.

Of course there will be those who abuse these socialist principles. Every freedom is open to abuse by someone. Freedom of expression allows some to publish porn. Generous unemployment benefits mean some will give up looking for work. But the abuse of the few has never been a reason to punish the deserving.

I guess the next question is does socialism work? A swimming parent I knew in Florida is forever publishing pictures on Facebook of litter strewn streets in Venezuela with captions about the failure of socialism. But is that accurate or fair? Let’s look at some comparative figures between the USA and NZ.

Item NZ USA UN Rank NZ UN Rank US
Life Expectancy 81.61 78.69 17 31
Happiness 8 18
Democracy 9.26 7.98 4 21
Murders 0.99 per 100K 5.35 per 100K 213 94
Rape 25.8 per 100K 27.3 per 100K
Corruption 87 71 2 22
Infant Mortality 4.31 per 1K 5.97 per 1K 27 38

So the decision is yours. Where would you choose to live? In a capitalist country where you were more likely to die at birth, were surrounded by less happy people, were more likely to be raped or murdered, had to deal with a more corrupt bureaucracy, vote in a less democratic political system and die three years earlier. Or would you prefer to live in socialist NZ where your chances of living at birth were better, where you would enjoy life more, where the probability of being raped or murdered was way, way less, where elections were more democratic and officials less corrupt and you would live three more years to enjoy it all. And so USA, stick your capitalist bigotry where the sun don’t shine. Don’t feed me your capitalist BS when the results are so provably bad. The only freedom you seem to be offering is the freedom to be miserable. Keep on spending your money on guns and death and, please promise to stay well away from our back yard.

My views on a benevolent socialist society do not mean I support government interference in all aspects of NZ life. I said society had a duty to support weaker members of the group. That does not include sport. For example private enterprise clubs are far better equipped to manage the affairs of swimming than the bureaucrats that sit in Antares Place. For years Cotterill, Johns and Francis have attempted to take control of training, learn-to-swim, registration and competition – you name it and Antares Place wanted to own it. The three of them could well have authored the “Das Capital” of swimming. I bet Cotterill’s friends would love to know his hidden communist leanings. You don’t believe me? Then explain why he supported “centralised” training for the past ten years. Because, you see centralised means communist. And in competitive sport I agree with the Americans – it does not work.

And that’s the end of politics for another ten years. In our next post we will return to the world of sport; this time to track and field athletics.

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