Socialism is usually thought of in a negative context. I’m presenting some thoughts that consider the other side of the coin.

Consider Sweden, Norway and Denmark, for example. Their health care system is much better than ours. And yet, Donald Trump is proceeding to dismantle what we do have (the Affordable Care Act). I can’t think of a single positive thing that Trump has done.

Sweden, Norway and Denmark have better education than we do. I don’t even like to use this combination of words. President Trump. Thank goodness, Joe Biden is leading Trump in the polls.

I was delighted to see the failure of Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Norway’s income tax level is 38.4 percent. Norway has a poverty rate of about 7.5 percent. Sweden’s poverty rate is about 7 percent. Poverty rate in our country is about 15 percent.

Norway has a highly regarded prison system. It has the lowest recidivism rate of any country at 20 percent. It trains inmates with occupations in demand.

In our country, it costs about $45,000 a year to keep an inmate in prison. Our recidivism rate is 76.6 percent in state prisons and 44.7 percent in federal prisons. Who pays for this cost?

I would support sending our attorney general and prison officials to Norway at taxpayer expense. They could gain some ideas on improving our system and lowering our recidivism rate.

A recent commentary by Ray Holbrook (“Reelect President Donald Trump to save US from socialism,” The Daily News, July 15) had a rebuttal by Jane Elton (“Holbrook’s campaign to help Trump was a disservice,” The Daily News, July 16) that said in part: “... I have to comment on the disservice to the moderate Grand Old Party that Holbrook has accomplished in his column.”

“His 11 points were filled with falsehoods, outrageous statements and inflammatory words,” Elton wrote. “If you listened to Joe Biden’s speech on TV on Tuesday, he did not advocate any of the items Holbrook said he would do if elected.”

Consider the term, “Marxism.” This has a more sinister tone to it than socialism. Some people associate Marxism with communism. In my Webster Handy College Dictionary, the definitions are as follows: Socialism: Ownership of exploitable capital and means of production (is) by the government, not by individuals or by private enterprise. Marxism: The socialistic theory originated by the German economist, Karl Marx. Marxism and socialism are the same.

A few years ago, David Michael Smith was fired from the College of the Mainland for being a Marxist. I’m certain that Smith knows much more about Marxism and socialism than one of his recent critics, one David Katz.

Shortly after he was fired, I was in a group that heard Smith present a discussion. It was well presented and most of the audience crowded around him with questions.

Stephen A. Hodgson lives in Galveston.

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(57) comments

Carlos Ponce

" I can’t think of a single positive thing that Trump has done." It comes with old age, Stephen.

Pardoning Jack johnson not positive?

Reducing unemployment for Blacks, Hispanics, women not positive? (It slipped during the current virus cycle but is bouncing back.[beam])

Set records in job creation not positive?

Plenty more. Read here:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/trumps-list-289-accomplishments-in-just-20-months-relentless-promise-keeping

And the Scandinavian countries don't consider themselves socialists!

Charles Douglas

Mr. Ponce> You know often, and many times I have wondered just what cesspool... of understanding, the general public as a whole, who monitors this forum would be led to WITHOUT, a Carlos PONCE, and those like you ..being present to take apart, analyze, and expose the socialist, destructive, deceptive ideas, which are expressed here routinely, by Op-Eds/ Posts! They are part of an agenda to influence a political mission instead of being for the well being of this nation! It is very troubling, to wake up every morning to see and hear, a great number of Americans support anarchists, clothed as protesters, who are tearing down, burning down, looting, killing, and destroying this country, while using African-Americans and other minorities and their causes as shields to accomplish their goals! It is troubling to me when there is a candidate who cannot remember his wife from his sister is running for President. Who hates African-Americans, by his deeds and words for a period of more than FIFTY years, but had the gall, and audacity from a hiding place, to charge his opponent as being racist! It is to much to believe in today's times! I am Shocked, Appalled, and Stunned, that such a man in his condition would be selected to lead this nation. In the recent past Biden has advocated raising taxes, giving free medical care for everybody, opening borders, taking money from police, confiscating firearms, and you don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that he will appoint Socialist LEFTIST JUDGES, to enforce his destroying fossil fuel jobs, and factories in this country! Yet the author of this Op-ed will have us to believe Joe has not said any of these things. Very sad indeed.

Brian Allen

you need to add that he can also remember "person, woman, man, camera, television"

Carlos Ponce

"Consider Sweden, Norway, and Denmark for example. Their health care system is much better than ours."

Sweden: "A recent report on Swedish television about the state of the country's healthcare system has shocked the population. For years hospitals have been suffering from nursing staff shortages, beds have been left unoccupied and patients face long waiting times for operations. And according to the report the problems have taken on life-threatening proportions in many areas."

https://www.eurotopics.net/en/178879/crisis-situation-at-swedish-hospitals

Sweden, Norway and Denmark have a combined population of 20.7 million. It is absurd to compare these countries to the United States with a population of 330 million.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbdown]

Patricia C Newsom

Obviously you, Mr. Hodgkin, don’t know anyone born, raised, educated, a pilot in the Swedish Air Force, flew commercial airlines and later owned a company in Sweden. Oh, did I mention that the government deducted 65% of his income to pay for 4 years of free college for all students? What about free medical care for all? Oh, you did mention that, didn’t you.

When it came time for my friend, who paid a hefty financial price to live in a Socialistic county, he was denied medical attention for cancer treatments for months. Cancer caught in time, treatment denied for months due to long lines for doctors and yes, treatment of an 64 years young (old) person. He had a short life at the expense of socialism. So sad.

Gary Scoggin

The thing that people miss when comparing Scandinavian countries to the US is scalability. The GDP of Denmark is roughly equivalent to the GDP of Denver, Colorado. There is no reason to assume a successful program can be massively scaled up without a lot of problems. Can we learn from these countries? Certainly. But we can’t assume that their solutions are our solutions.

Bailey Jones

But many social programs are implemented at the state level - Medicaid, for instance. And states have their own tax structures, control their own schools, license their own doctors, etc. It is reasonable to equate European nations with American states. And it is reasonable to equate the US as a whole with the EU as a whole.

Americans have a bad habit of ignoring the rest of the world when it comes to ideas. We see it in healthcare - we've certainly seen it in regards to COVID, we see it in education, transportation, infrastructure, etc. We are 1/25 of the population - there are lots of lessons out there for for us if we are humble enough to learn them.

Gary Scoggin

Bailey -- I get your point about separate states, etc. The difference being that the EU has a lot less control over the actons of its member nations than the Federal Government does over the states. While some US states are attempting to model Scandanavian-style healthcare systems, overarching federal funding, care rules, and, ultimately, the prevailing culture result in failure. (See: TennCare for example.)

If we want a state-by-state approach then the answer is to defund Medicaid and Medicare (and perhaps. VA), return the money to the states and let the states work it out individualy. Doing so, would create a biggeer healthcare disaster than we have now. Can you imagine what low income healthcare would be like in Texas under such a system? In Arkansas? In Mississippi?

The Scandanavian countries have cultures more suited for these types of programs; their tolerance for high tax rates and their attacks on social inequities would not be welcomed here. That's not to say that I don't think we need universal access to healthcare, we certainly do, but the approach needs to be more uniquely American. We can learn from these countries as you suggest but a successful end product here will necessarily look a lot different.

Bailey Jones

I don't disagree.

Wayne D Holt

[thumbup] Quite correct, Gary, and moreover: vastly different demographics, educational attainment, industrial base for employment, and so on.

I'm pretty sure if you took the entire population of Norway and plopped them down in the middle of America where we had built to Norwegian industrial infrastructure and composition, you'd have a slam dunk on a social system that was (somewhat) working for them.

The idea that you just need to graft a Norwegian social welfare structure onto America is hardly worth a second look.

Dan Freeman

The Nordic countries have roughly the same population as Texas and are 50 percent larger. They compare extraordinarily favorable to the Lone Star state. We have dwindling oil resources with a tiny fund based on it compared to the Norwegian Sovereign Fund. As a group have comprehensive health, housing, education, and retirement funds. And lots of skiing [smile]

Gary Scoggin

The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund is so large because Equinor, formerly Statoil, is 64% owned by the Norwegian government. So the lion’s share of profits from Equinor’s huge North Sea operations and it’s other operations around the world (including the US) have gone into the fund. Imagine if, for the past several decades, the US government owned almost 2/3 of Exxon and Chevron, and had created a fund to wisely invest those profits. There would be a fund that would dwarf all other sovereign wealth funds. Also, lots of Exxon and Chevron investors - mainly middle class folks - would be less well off. Their wealth would be managed by the government.

Carlos Ponce

"We have dwindling oil resources..." FALSE

"The federal government has discovered a massive new reserve of oil and natural gas in Texas and New Mexico that it says has the “largest continuous oil and gas resource potential ever assessed.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/feds-discover-largest-oil-natural-gas-reserve-in-history/

"America’s energy security just got a lot more secure. On November 28 [2018] The United States Geological Survey (USGS) published an assessment of continuous (unconventional or ‘tight’) resources in a part of the prolific Permian oil and gas basin that straddles Western Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. Located in the Wolfcamp Shale and overlying Bone Spring Formation, the unproven, technically recoverable reserves are officially the largest on the planet."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2018/12/21/americas-oil-and-gas-reserves-double-with-massive-new-permian-discovery/#6d8f4412c91e

Dan, you do understand what "officially the largest on the planet" means, right?

Gary Scoggin

Most price forecasts call for oil to stay in the $50-60 range over the next several decades. A lot of oil, especially unconventionals, stays in the ground at that price. Dan is right about employment- right now the O&G sector is being hit hard. Layoffs abound.

Dan Freeman

Gosh I thought you guys could read. I was comparing the Nordic countries to Texas not the US of A. As for resources, check out unemployment in the oil patch.

Carlos Ponce

"unemployment in the oil patch." Wait until oil prices stabilize. Electing Democrats will increase unemployment not only for the oil fields but for the surrounding refinery workers.

Jack Cross

Wrong Dan, if Texas was a country, it would be the eleventh largest economy in the world. Larger than Mexico and Canada combined and equal to Russia. Sweden invited large numbers of refugees into the country and is having a huge huge crime and rape problem.

Patricia C Newsom

Exactly.

Kenneth Diestler

It entertains me how Trump has been in politics for 3 years now and according to liberals, everything is his fault and Biden, with a 40 year history in government, is the choice to fix everything he helped create.

Claudia Burnam

[thumbup] E G Wiley

Don Schlessinger

[thumbdown][thumbdown]

Gary Miller

When will "educated" people learn that the countries mentioned rejected socialism several years ago because it was creating problems they are trying to correct today. They are 'recovering' socialists. but no longer practicing socialists.

Dan Freeman

I agree that the Nordic countries are far from socialistic, in the sense of Marxism. A good introduction is found in The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Parteanen. She makes the point that socialism where the government controls everything is absurd.

However, she notes that when she left Finland for the United States she lost universal public health care, affordable day care, maternity benefits, high quality education, and tax payer funded residences for the elderly, among other things. The Nordic system provided these to make modern life livable and give citizens as much logistical and financial independence as possible.

If the Nordic countries can do this, then a similar state in size and diversity, like Texas, should be able to do the same.

Carlos Ponce

"....Texas, should be able to do the same." Now if we could only stem the flow of illegals flooding the Texas Education system, improve Texas FM highways, etc. you could look into it. But until oil prices stabilize we have to wait.

Gary Scoggin

Oil prices won’t stabilize at a level much higher than they are now.

Dwight Burns

It's dad how you twist the truth. However, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all..

Don Schlessinger

So now Anu Parteanen is learning about personal responsibility?

Mary Gillespie

Dan, the Finns lose a lot of liberty in return for their safety net. A friend who was vice president of a Fortune 500 company lived there with his family for 15 years, and I visited several times.

I learned that the prices are outrageously high, and that - even on his huge Amerian salary! - he couldn't afford an apartment big enough for his family. Gas and car ownership are heavily taxed: most people can't afford cars, and his family could afford only one.

I saw Finns washing their rugs in the river in Helsinki. Rather reminiscent of the Egyptians washing their laundry in the Nile, but at least it was cleaner.

Not the way I want to live. I'd wish a higher standard of living for you, too.

Dan Freeman

I have been there myself as have friends. The prices were comparable to the rest of Europe and the US. If a plutocrat had trouble, he must have been living high on the hog.

As for Finns washing rugs in Helsinki, that is bizarre as there are no rivers in Helsinki. There are To put it in perspective, Monocle ranks it as among the most liveable cities in the world. They have boat berths galore and thousands of acres of marine fishing.

Carlos Ponce

"there are no rivers in Helsinki" But it does have inlets and bays.

Mary Gillespie

Dan, you don't know what you're talking about. The Vantaa river flows into the Gulf of Finland at Helsinki.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vantaa_(river)

You're equally wrong about economics.

Bailey Jones

Any country that is pure socialism is poison to its people. And any country that is pure capitalism is poison to its people. Capitalism is very good at creating consumer goods and jobs, but it comes with economic exploitation, inequality, and a boom and bust cycle that perpetuates poverty. Capitalism's goal is profits - it doesn't take care of the young, or the old, or even workers beyond providing the minimum wage and benefits that the market will bare. Socialism is good at taking care of people - the young, the old, the disabled, the unemployed - anyone not valued by capitalism. Socialism's goals are healthcare, education, and the social safety net, but socialism is not very good at creating economic innovation. If you want the best smart phones, you want capitalism. If you want your elderly living with dignity and comfort, you want socialism. Capitalism redistributes wealth upward, socialism redistributes wealth downwards. They are yin and yang. In transactions where both parties are free of duress - like getting your suit cleaned - capitalism is great. In transactions where one party is under duress - like if you're dying from cancer or your house is on fire - socialism is a better choice. Capitalism provides for each according to his abilities. Socialism provides for each according to his needs.

Carlos Ponce

Capitalism works. And as Margaret Thatcher said "The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money".

Bailey Jones

Whose money did Trump run out of those 5 times he went bankrupt? I'm pretty sure it was "other people's money". As I said, and you're I guess not capable of comprehending, capitalism and socialism are both methods of redistributing wealth. Capitalism sends it from the many to the few, socialism sends it from the few to the many. The irony is that conservatives complain about socialism taking some fraction of their income while apparently not noticing that capitalism is taking all of it. For most of us, capitalism will take every dime we make, and more, leaving us to die in debt. And we'll say "Thank God I was able to earn a living!" (Not you of course - you have your nice socialist retirement from your nice socialist job as a socialism supported teacher.)

Carlos Ponce

Trump NEVER went bankrupt. Five of his 96 companies went belly up but in terms of his own personal finances he never did. An entrepreneur borrows funds to finance a company using that company's assets for collateral. If the company pans out, good. If it does not the entrepreneur does not lose money but the company loses its assets. And those 5 companies did not effect the others that did well.

Bailey Jones

So, what you're saying is that Trump never ran out of his own money - he ran out of other people's money. He must be a socialist. Who'd a thunk it?

Carlos Ponce

As usual, Bailey got it all wrong. The 5 companies were dissolved and its assets sold off. The money went back to the bank. If not enough money was generated the bank writes it off as a loss on their corporate income tax. No one loses money but the Federal government does not make as much in corporate taxes they would make if the company did well. C'est la vie.

Gary Scoggin

You don’t know much about finance do you, Carlos? When someone “writes it off”, it means they lost that money. Bankruptcy is kind of a big deal, especially if you have a sense of personal responsibility. In the business world, Donald Trump was a master at making others pay for his mistakes. A talent he now uses as President.

Bailey Jones

So, if no one was losing money - why did they go bankrupt? Wasn't it because they ran our of money? Isn't that the very definition of bankruptcy - when a business doesn't get enough of other people's money to cover their expenses? Isn't that what you taught your students in business math? Or did you teach that businesses don't need other people's money? Maybe they have a friend at Deutsche Bank who just keeps giving them more and more money? But whose money is that? Sounds like it's other people's money. What happens when it runs out? Is it bankruptcy? I wonder if any of those students read the paper online. I wonder what they think of old Mr. Ponce's inability to cede such a simple and basic economic truth? I wonder if they can see the folly in quoting politicians without thinking about the logical consequences of the words? So much wonder to ponder.

Carlos Ponce

You don't know much about tax laws do you Gary Scoggin. Writing off a loan means the bank's tax liability on corporate taxes is lowered.

Carlos Ponce

"So, if no one was losing money - why did they go bankrupt? " The venture was not as lucrative as anticipated.

Mike Zeller

Carlos, I'm glad you didn't teach math.

Carlos Ponce

I taught Math at Hitchcock including a subject called Math of Money in addition to Algebra I and II, Geometry, etc. My students did well, some doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.

Bailey Jones

Mr. Ponce! Mr. Ponce! I'm getting paid with other people's money! Does that make me a socialist?

Jim Forsythe

April, 2020

It’s another Deutsche Bank bombshell about President Trump. The German bank announced Trump’s company, the Trump Organization can’t make their April debt payments. Thus, the company has asked Deutsche Bank for delayed loan payments.

It seems as if Donald Trump is underwater. The revenue he is generating from his properties just barely covers the interest payments on his massive debts.

Six of Donald Trump’s seven highest revenue-generating properties are currently shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Deutsche Bank’s loans to Trump include his Doral Florida golf resort. It also includes the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC and a Chicago tower. Two of the properties are being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Doral golf resort near Miami has stopped all operations, while the Washington hotel closed its restaurant and bar.

The Trump Organization had been trying to sell the lease for the Trump International Hotel. However, the bidding has been stopped. The federal government owns the building.

Carlos Ponce

Jim, since Donald Trump has placed his assets into a trust after being elected can he be held responsible for any shortfalls?

Carlos Ponce

Mr.Jones! Mr. Jones! Since you are getting paid with other people's money it really depends on more specific information as to whether you are a socialist or not.

Jim Forsythe

As Deutsche Bank’s loans were to Trump, yes he is responsible for any shortfalls. Deutsche Bank will be coming for him.

Trump choose a Revocable Trust instead of a Blind Trust. The Donald J Trump Revocable Trust is tied to the President’s social security number and his taxpayer identification number. The trust is run by his two eldest sons and the Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

A better choice would have been a Blind Trust. In a blind trust, the owner does now know what the holdings are or how the assets are managed.

Carlos Ponce

Changing your tune, Jim? Now you post "Deutsche Bank’s loans were to Trump" but earlier you posted the loans were made out to the Trump organization. Not the same thing. You were correct the first time, the loan was made out to the Trump Organization. No problemo.

Carlos Ponce

Think about it, Jim. If Jim Forsythe were to take out a loan would the specifics be made public? Considering the information posted online originates from a Mother Jones article its veracity is doubtful. But the Liberals are gullible to believe anything that casts Trump in a negative light.

Jose' Boix

There are the three salient points to consider when trying to compare "us" with others. One: We are not even close to the culture, upbringing, mentality, and diversity of the "Nordics" noted. Two: Most ardent and vocal debaters to make "us" be like "them" do it from "here" and likely would not want to move and live "there." And three: It seems that lots of folks want to get "into the USA." Do we hear the same clamor about folks wanting to get into Scandinavian or Nordic" countries? Just my three cents.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

Mary Gillespie

Norway isn't straightforwardly socialist. The high taxes aren't enough to pay for all those lovely benefits Norwegians receive: the profits from the state-owned oil company are invested in the US stock market.

The high tax rates are only half the story: the cost of living in Norway is outrageous. A tiny raw chicken is $25 in the grocery store! There is also a 100% tax on the purchase of a car.

Is that how you want to live?

Paul Sivon

The good news for socialists and Marxists is that the best way to get there is by having a corrupt capitalist, wanna be authoritarian, running the country. Trump is the surest path to socialism this country has seen in a long time. Venezuela here we come, or, get rid of the incompetent despot.

Carlos Ponce

Paul Sivon[thumbdown]

jimmy winston

Best opinion piece I've seen get published in 6 months!

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