• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Socialism Made America Great

From single-payer health care to climate change, the 2020 Democrats have ambitious plans. But these new, grand, and green deals aren’t as radical as some make them sound. In fact, big public projects are what made America great.

When President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower took office in 1953, America had been buffeted by the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s. The Cold War put us in competition with Soviet “5-Year Plans” and Chinese “Great Leaps Forward.”

Eisenhower was concerned that soldiers would return home to closing factories. So Ike pushed for massive infrastructure spending, creating the “Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”

Congress funded a half-century of highway construction, building 47,000 miles — the biggest public works project in the history of the world. It cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, with 90 percent coming from Washington and 10 percent from the states.

The interstate highways transformed America.

In 1919, it took a month or more to drive cross-country; the record today is a little over 24 hours. Automobile ownership skyrocketed, gas sales jumped, motels mushroomed, the suburbs flourished, and malls were built. Construction companies, automakers, and oil companies flourished, too, along with their workers.

There was a downside, of course. Rail and mass transit were marginalized, urban sprawl spread across the land, the daily commute grew longer, and our carbon footprint grew bigger, as multi-lane highways destroyed urban communities.

Still, it puts lie to the chant that “the U.S. has never been a socialist country!” After all, we drive on socialist, government-owned roads.

Meanwhile there’s almost universal support for Social Security, our government insurance. And half the country — including Medicare and Medicaid recipients, veterans, and federal elected officials — receives some form of socialist, government-funded health care.

Consider also the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation created by Congress in 1933. Tennessee and five nearby states were devastated by poverty, hunger, and ill health. Only 1 percent of farm families had indoor plumbing, and about a third of the population in the valley had malaria.

Starting in 1933, our taxes paid to build TVA power plants, flood control, and river navigation systems. In 1942 alone, the construction of 12 hydroelectric and one coal steam plant employed a total of 28,000 workers.

Today the TVA is a federally-owned corporation with assets worth over $34 trillion, according to the SEC. And while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rails against socialism, half of his constituents in Kentucky buy cheap, publicly produced TVA electricity. Free-market, for-profit, capitalist power states often pay twice as much.

Like our highway system, we need to change our TVA to meet the challenges of climate change. But that means better priorities and more investment, not less.

Federal taxes paid for the highways and the TVA, which are now supported by gas taxes and electric bills. In those years of great public works projects, the wealthy elite paid a much greater share of their income in taxes, with the highest marginal tax rate reaching 94 percent.

Claiming that government is the problem, not the solution, administrations since the 1970s have reduced that top rate over and over. The 2017 tax law again reduced the top rate for billionaires, creating great fortunes for a few, and great national debt, but not great public works.

Let’s get past the S-word — socialism — and have a real discussion on how to build an America that’s great for all of us.

Tim Butterworth is a retired teacher and former state legislator from Chesterfield, New Hampshire.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail