The Socializing of America: Common Good and Common Sacrifice
America is known as a capitalist society throughout the world. To many, the symbol of America is one where people are able to rise or fall based on what the “market” dictates. In this sense, the market is the buying and selling of goods and services, where supply and demand determines which ventures succeed and which ventures fail. Overall, the idea that America is a completely capitalist society is partly correct. On the other hand, there are significant portions of America’s economy that is based on socialization.
Socialization is a system where resources are gathered from virtually everyone and divided among the population. One of the most well-known socialized elements of American society involves taxes. Taxes are collected through various means and the revenue generated from those taxes is used to fund public schools, the military, and police. The understanding, under this form of socialization, is that the government is better able to take on projects of the common good versus leaving these services to the private market (Donaldson & Scriven, 2003).
In today’s politics, the debate about the level of socialization practiced broadly in America includes determining which services should be private and which should be social. Also, how are social programs to be paid for – meaning, which portion of the population should bear the greatest burden for social programs. In order to understand the conversation about socialization, it’s important to review the history of American politics surrounding socialization (Donaldson & Scriven, 2003). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal to American public policy in 1933. The policy was initially aimed at addressing the problems that rose as a result of the Great Depression. Before these policies, many Americans were essentially on their own to deal with the effects of a market driven economy. This meant that employment, healthcare, and retirement were aspects of life that were largely left to the individual to manage. In the event that market forces caused Americans to suffer financially, there were little in the way of federal government programs to help (Himmelberg, 2001).
An example of the lack of a social safety net was the banking collapse brought about by the stock market crash of 1929. When banks failed and were not able to secure the deposits of customers, many were left with a small fraction or none of the money they had kept in deposit accounts. Even though bank customers did not do anything to contribute to the collapse, they were at the mercy of a system that was not provided with safeguards to protect their assets. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, formed in 1933, was a federal government protection that guaranteed the deposits of commercial bank account holders in the event of a future failing (Pederson, 2011).[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Another problem that affected Americans prior to Roosevelt’s policies were older citizens. Those who were past working age were able to retire if they had saved enough money to live on or their company offered pensions to supplement their savings. The result of this policy was that older Americans suffered extremely high rates of poverty if they had insufficient funds to maintain their lifestyle beyond their working years. Social Security (originally called Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) was signed into law in 1935. This new program helped those who were minor survivors of death by their guardians, those who were disabled and unable to work, and those who retired without ample savings or pensions on which to rely (Reagan, 1999). [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Present-Day American Social Programs
Today, many parts of the New Deal are still part of federal policy and several of those policies have been expanded in an attempt to meet the demands of today’s population. What is different today are aspects of life that make social programs more expensive to the point of being a burden on the economy as a whole. Americans live longer than ever today (which means more money is required to live after working years) and taxes are lower. Figuring out how to maintain socialization and manage the national budget continues to be a source of debate and creates lines of division in contemporary politics (Donaldson & Scriven, 2003).
Donaldson, S. I., & Scriven, M. (Eds.). (2003). Evaluating social programs and problems: Visions for the new millennium. Routledge.
Himmelberg, R. F. (2001). The great depression and the new deal. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Pederson, W. D. (Ed.). (2011). A companion to Franklin D. Roosevelt. John Wiley & Sons.
Reagan, P. D. (1999). Designing a new America: The origins of New Deal planning, 1890-1943. Univ of Massachusetts Press.