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Socialism in USA: What Millennials Need to Know

Occupy Wall Street Socialism in USA

More millennial Americans are starting to think they’ve had enough with capitalism. Many would even prefer to relocate and live in any socialist country. In a survey conducted by YouGov last month, they found out that millennials were the only American age group that preferred socialism over capitalism.

Last year, the Democratic Socialists of America became the fastest growing political group in the United States. Their membership almost quintupled, rising from 6,500 to 30,000. Their median age group also changed from 60 to 35.

Why are American millennials suddenly so attracted to socialism? The answer is pretty clear: rising student loans, higher rents, job insecurity, and stagnant wages.

When the idea of socialism surfaced, it gave them a ray of hope. The movement can resolve these major stresses they currently face. It also offers different systems that could subsidize all of their needs.

Post-war American Socialism

During the World War II, an uneasy alliance between communists and socialists was forged. Conservatives and liberals also became allies because of their common fight against fascism. The alliance soon disintegrated, though. The Soviet Union built communist regimes in the eastern European countries when the war ended.

After the Cold War, the gap between other socialists and communists got worse. Socialists saw themselves as Democrats who oppose the one-party rule imposed by the Soviet Union.

For instance, the Labor Party won in the British elections of 1945. They subsequently developed a national health care system. The group also gained public control of major industries and utilities.

The party eventually lost its majority in 1951. They relinquished the government offices to the Conservatives who won the next elections. The Great Depression was ended by the end of the Second World War.

Examples of Socialism in USA

Despite its deep roots, different faces of socialism can still be seen in the United States. Here are some examples:

Corporate Bailouts and Welfare

What most people don’t realize is that we all use and benefit from socialism. This example of socialism is something the Republicans like and fight for. You see, they do not like it when socialism is used for the poor or working class.

However, when millionaires and their corporate donors are involved, it’s a different story. Socialism suddenly becomes as American as a hot apple pie.

People who belong in the working class make up the majority of taxpayers. They pay for welfare for corporations and individuals who have money more than all of us combined. When the government offers a subsidy to a billion-dollar company, you are the one paying for it.

Government Scholarships

Deserving students in the United States are rewarded by the government. If you show true potential and work hard in school, the government will provide you with a college scholarship to help advance your education.

Your tax dollars have been used to give college scholarship for future scientists, doctors, lawyers, and even U.S. presidents.

Health Care for All

In addition to education, government taxpayer funds have been allocated to provide health care for low-income U.S. citizens. Republicans are against this program for many reasons.

What they fail to understand is that when people can’t afford to pay steep medical bills, they simply don’t. The bill stays there and does not magically disappear out of thin air. The loss taken by the hospital, doctor or insurance company is just passed down to everyone else.

This is why giving people a low-income option works. Medical costs are reduced not only for them but for all taxpayers. It’s actually the main argument regarding a health care mandate. You are not being forced to buy health care. Costs actually decrease for everyone if all of us are covered.

Construction of State Properties

You’ve probably seen construction workers doing their thing while you’re on your daily commute. They are there to fix potholes, repave roads and highways, and erect buildings. They are the ones responsible for fixing everything in your town.

How are they paid by the government that hires them? They themselves, as well as the work they do, is made possible by taxpayer-funded state socialism.

Insurance for the Unemployed

You pay payroll taxes throughout your entire working life. Some taxes are directed to a program that provides for the unemployed temporarily until they can get another job. The logic behind this is pretty straightforward: you pay for the sake of others, they do the same for you.

These days, you’ll never know when you might lose your job. You may need to get temporary assistance until you are able to get back on your feet. This possibility is recognized by the government.

Metro or City Buses

Everybody needs a means of transportation. Don’t have your own car? No problem. A city bus can help you get from point A to point B safely. This is one of the benefits from taxpayer funds.

The fee you pay the government funds the city buses. As a result, millions of people are able to go to work without having to worry about getting their own vehicle.

Occupy Wall Street: A Socialist Movement

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a progressive movement that kicked off on September 17, 2011. People gathered in Zuccotti Park, located in the Wall Street financial district of New York City, to protest. The rally received global attention, giving birth to a surge in the movement against worldwide economic inequality.

Adbusters, an anti-consumerist magazine based in Canada, was responsible for initiating the call for a protest. Among the main issues raised by OWS were greed, corruption, economic inequality, and the unnecessary influence corporations had on the government.

“We are the 99%” was the slogan of the OWS. The phrase refers to wealth distribution and income inequality in the U.S. – the wealthiest make up 1% of the population.

Protesters made consensus-based decisions to achieve their goals. General assemblies were organized. During those meetings, members emphasized compensation through direct action by petitioning to authorities.

On November 15, 2011, authorities forced protesters out of Zuccotti Park. It was not the end of the movement, though. Protesters shifted their focus to occupying board meetings, universities, college campuses, banks, and foreclosed homes.

Democratic Socialists of America DSA and What They Really Want

In recent years, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) made headlines thanks to socialist candidate Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s worth noting, though, that in the organization, they are actually moderates.

Many people say one of the most surprising things about the DSA is the fact that democratic socialists in America do exist. That was probably just under the radar until Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez became the faces of the movement.

Maria Svart, the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, recently spoke with The Gist’s Mike Pesca and she explained what democratic socialism is all about.

“We believe that people should have the ability to live a dignified life and that it’s possible in the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” the American socialist said. “Democratic socialism is the idea that we make the economy run, and so we should control it. We should own and control our workplaces. We should actually have real democratic control over public investment decisions. Other aspects of our society should be run democratically.”

Bernie Sanders, the Socialist

Sanders established himself as Hillary Clinton’s top challenger for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.  The Vermont senator, who is now 77 years old, ran as a “Democratic socialist.” But in his long political career, he has always been comfortable with just calling himself a “socialist.”

According to him, his ideology is framed this way: “Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.”

The central tenet of his campaign was his fight for equality among the poor and middle class and against the billionaire class. Due to his socialist beliefs, he positioned himself further left of the center compared to Clinton.

During his campaign, Sanders said college should be free for everyone. “A college degree is the new high school diploma,” he wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece.

He argued that if a majority of Americans do not have access to a proper college education, class equality is impossible. He also introduced a plan to make tuition at public colleges and universities free by taxing speculators at Wall Street.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ocasio-Cortez has become a popular name in the Democratic Party since June. Two months ago, she pulled off an unexpected upset in the New York midterm primaries after defeating top Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley.

The Bronx native is a democratic socialist and her political mentor is Sen. Sanders. She has turned into a surrogate on the road for progressive primary candidates. She’s actually everywhere these days. In August, she seemed to be campaigning for different left-leaning Democrats in Hawaii, Kansas, and Michigan.

She was also offered $10,000 last month by writer and podcast host Ben Shapiro – a prominent conservative. “Miss Ocasio-Cortez, I’m really excited that you’ve been elevated to that position and I would love to have a real conversation with you about the issues,” he said.

The host added, “Not only am I eager to discuss the issues with you, I’m willing to offer $10,000 to your campaign, today, for you to come on our Sunday special.”

He concluded his offer by saying, “However you want to do it, I am more than willing to talk to you.”

Shapiro told Fox Business at the time that he did not expect a response from the politician.

However, Ocasio-Cortez did deliver a statement in response to his offer, tweeting, “Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.”

According to the Ocasio-Cortez campaign team, the social media post was Ocasio-Cortez’s full statement on the matter.

Ocasio-Cortez’s platform calls for a tuition-free college and universal healthcare. She also believes housing should be a common right for all Americans.

Socialism and Democratic Socialism

“Socialist” remains an often misunderstood – and sometimes dirty – term in the U.S. political sphere. One reason for that way of thinking is the Cold War, in which paranoia toward the Soviet Union was widespread across the United States.

In the traditional sense, a socialist simply means a person who is adherent of socialism.

Socialism is defined by a system of social organization in which the distribution of income and private property is controlled by the society. This basically means it is an economy that’s state-controlled.

The state has power over all means of production, including offices, resources, firms, and factories. It’s worth noting, though, that there are different forms of socialism. There are systems in which the means of production is under the control and ownership of workers.

Academics have long been debating about what socialism really is.

“The academic debates about socialism’s ‘meaning’ are huge and arcane and rife with disagreements, but what all definitions have in common is either the elimination of the market or its strict containment,” said former DSA board member Frances Fox Piven, who is also a political scientist at the City University of New York.

Socialists generally believe the government is responsible for providing a wide range of basic services to the public. This means they should give citizens education and health care for free or at a significant discount so everyone could afford it.

“Democratic socialist” and “socialist” are often used interchangeably these past few years. It can be confusing for some given that democratic socialists don’t necessarily believe the government is responsible for all facets of the economy.

However, they do believe the government should help people by providing their most basic needs. They also think the government should assist people so they can all have an equal chance at success.

In 2006, Sen. Sanders offered a longer definition of democratic socialism during an interview.

“I think [democratic socialism] means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest,” he explained.

The politician added, “I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means.”

Democratic socialists are also strong believers of democracy and all the principles that come with it. They are by no means advocates of authoritarian governments. Many Americans associate socialism with authoritarianism but democratic socialists don’t think the same way.

“At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people,” reads an excerpt from the DSA’s official website.

They don’t feel that socialism should be forced on everyone. They do, however, think they are fundamentally anti-capitalist. According to democratic socialists, the government should urge businesses under private ownership to give workers as much control as possible.

Democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, as well as the DSA, put a great deal of emphasis on social justice. They are even pushing for the rise of an economy that is largely controlled by workers instead of the owners.

Major Policy Reforms

Many believe today’s democratic socialists don’t see positive policy reforms as something that could be accumulated until one day, we suddenly just have socialism. In a recent interview, DSA member and New York state Senate candidate Julia Salazar said, “There’s no question that we have to expand and comprehensively fund the social safety net, but if we do that without altering the more basic structures that disempower people and keep them in wage slavery, we’re never going to see long-term social change.”

This is the reason why democratic socialists mostly choose what reforms they should rally behind. They favor battles that can ultimately change the lives of ordinary people for the better. Additionally, they teach people the value of coming together to fight against a huge threat: the capitalist Goliaths who are currently reigning over our society.

 

 

Featured image: Occupy Bank of America March 15, 2012, Occupy Wall Street targets BofA with a rally and march. Activists “moved in” to a branch by setting up a sidewalk living room on the theory that ‘the bank took our homes so we’re moving in with them.’ A half dozen people were arrested. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mike Fleshman

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Colin Kaepernick is the New Face of Nike’s Latest Campaign

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is the newest face of Nike. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Erik Drost

Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who started kneeling during the anthem to protest against violence and injustice, has been made the face of Nike’s latest ad campaign.

Kaepernick has been tapped to help Nike commemorate the 30th anniversary of its iconic slogan, the brand announced on Monday. He is set to join other well-known athletes, including Odell Beckham Jr. and Serena Williams.

The latest ad shows a black-and-white close-up of Kaepernick’s face along with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The phrase is believed to be a reference to Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL for allegedly keeping him out of the league due to his protests against police brutality.

Kaepernick is known for leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013. He left San Francisco two years ago and has not been picked up by any time since. Many teams had a need for a quarterback at the time but all of them declined to sign Kaepernick. This led many to believe owners were punishing him for his stance against the police or believe his presence would only lead to alienation among fans.

With his ex-teammate Eric Reid who was also one of the first NFL players to kneel during the anthem, Kaepernick filed grievances claiming team owners have conspired to keep them out of the NFL.

Since Nike’s announcement, many have expressed their views about it on social media. While many have praised Kaepernick for keeping true to his stance, others have slammed him for what they believe as disrespect to the military and the American flag.

Donald Trump Responds

President Donald Trump has publicly responded to Nike’s decision to make Kaepernick the face of its new ad campaign.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump criticized Nike’s recent campaign involving Colin Kaepernick. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

“I think it’s a terrible message that [Nike] are sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it,” the U.S. leader told Daily Caller Tuesday. “But I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it.”

While he does not agree with Kaepernick’s stance, the president did acknowledge that both Nike and the NFL player had the freedom to express their own opinions.

“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it,” Trump further stated.

In addition, he said Nike paid him “a lot of rent” because its flagship store in New York City is located in a building owned by Trump. The company left the property in 2017.

President Trump has frequently lambasted players who have kneeled during the anthem in the almost two years since Kaepernick began the movement.

Just last month, Trump suggested that players who kneel should be placed under suspension without pay.

NFL owners caved into the pressure earlier this year – approving a policy that would fine players who kneel during the national anthem. The new policy has since been put on hold by the league.

John Brennan Defends Kaepernick

One of the prominent people who defended Nike’s decision was former CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan lauded Kaepernick in a tweet, saying the athlete only gave meaning to the Constitution by taking a knee during the anthem to protest violence and racial injustice.

“Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America,” he posted on Twitter Monday night. “He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution—‘in order to form a more perfect union.’ Well done, Colin, well done.”

Bad Publicity is Still Publicity

The controversy around Nike’s new Kaepernick ad is probably not much of a surprise to the major sportswear company. In fact, many believe they have employed him to create more buzz for the brand.

In spite of the backlash, Kaepernick’s involvement is believed to be helping the promotion of Nike. Within less than 24 hours after Kaepernick’s spot was posted on Twitter, Nike has generated $43 million worth of media exposure.

Apex Marketing Group reported that a vast majority of that exposure is either neutral or positive. That means it outweighs the risk of alienating several customers, sports marketing executive Bob Dorfman said.

The move also positions Nike as a risk-taker, delivering a strong signal to its current slate of famous athletes. “It’s not a move that any company can make, but for Nike it’s definitely smart business,” Dorfman added.

Nike has yet to issue an official statement regarding the matter. On Tuesday, the company’s shares closed down 3.2 percent – its biggest one-day drop yet since the month of April. Meanwhile, shares in Nike’s strictest rival Adidas also dropped.

Nike’s Marketing Strategy

Nike is well aware that most of its customers are from the younger generation. NPD Group reports two-thirds of Nike’s customer base are below 35 years old from different races.

“Nike cares most about the category influencers and tastemakers — nearly all of whom will embrace their decision,” Howe Burch, Reebok’s former head of marketing in the U.S., said. “They know they will lose some customers short-term but not the kind of customers that really drive their business.”

Nike’s marketing strategy has been known to include disruptive athletes. Back in the early 1970s, runner Steve Prefontaine was tapped as the first athlete endorser of Nike.

The company is also known to be outspoken when it comes to its endorsers. When organizers of the French Open banned an outfit worn by Serena Williams, the company tweeted, “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”

Nike’s Relationship with the NFL

Some believe the renewed partnership between Kaepernick and Nike might result in tension between the company and the league. Nike has been the official uniform supplier for the NFL since 2012 and their partnership has been renewed up until 2028.

Kaepernick is in the middle of a legal battle with the NFL. Last week, an arbitrator said the controversial athlete had enough evidence to take his grievance suit to trial.

According to Burch, Nike’s decision to hire Kaepernick given his status with the NFL is quite unexpected.

“It’s a little surprising that they would take this position as the official supplier to the NFL,” Burch explained. “But they’ve never been uncomfortable being contrary.”

 

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Madden Pro Gamer, NFL Star Compete for Jacksonville Shooting Victims

Mike Evans

Mike Evans will be facing off against Young Kiv in a special Madden game. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison

A professional gamer and an NFL player squared off for a special Madden match.

Following the tragic Jacksonville shooting, pro gamer Shay “Young Kiv” Kivlen played against NFL star Mike Evans. The benefit game has been made in honor of the victims and their families.

On Aug. 26, 24-year-old David Katz fired shots after losing a Madden NFL game tournament and killed two other competitors: Elijah Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 28. The suspect also wounded 11 others before eventually turning the gun on himself. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Katz “clearly targeted other gamers.”

Kivlen considered Clayton as his best friend and he admitted that he’s still mourning his fellow gamer’s death. “I go through multiple emotions a day. I’ll feel sad, and then I’ll be angry and then I’ll be confused,” Kivlen told reporters. “When you see the news, you never think this would happen to you or your close friends.”

Kivlen had also been at the tournament when the shooting took place. However, he managed to leave the area shortly before the shooting to take a rest in his hotel room. According to reports, Kivlen was watching the event’s live stream when the shots were fired. At first, he did not understand what was going on.

“You don’t think a shooting is happening at the Madden’ tournament,” Kivlen explained. “It never came across my mind, at first.” The pro gamer went on to explain that after finding out what was happening, he immediately contacted everyone he knew who was at the event.

Kivlen said everything he has gone through this past week has led him to start the fundraiser and help the victims’ families. All proceeds of the event will be donated to the Jacksonville Fallen Gamers Fund – a non-profit that aims to help the victims of the Jacksonville shooting and their families.

 

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San Bernardino Shooting Leaves 10 Wounded Victims

A line of police tape

Police said people were playing games in an apartment block when the shooting took place. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster

8 people were shot at an apartment complex in San Bernardino, California, including a 17-year-old boy who remains in critical condition.

Police confirmed that the shooting took place on Sunday in an outdoor common area where a group had been playing games. Southern California officials are still not sure on what motivated the crime, San Bernardino police spokesman Captain Richard Lawhead said.

“Right now, nobody is cooperating and providing us with the information we need to help us locate a suspect or what led to the shooting or anything else,” Lawhead told the press via phone interview.

The victims were taken to three nearby hospitals. It has been confirmed that the teen victim is in extremely critical condition, as well as one adult victim. The other eight, on the other hand, had sustained wounds that are non-life threatening and they are expected to survive.

According to Lawson, police initially said 10 people were hit by gunfire at the scene. He later clarified that only eight people had been shot – explaining that police had initially taken conflicting reports.

San Bernardino police spokeswoman Sadie Albers told reporters that the victims were not cooperating with investigators, so they still don’t know what led to the shooting. Additionally, Albers said evidence at the scene showed that several firearms were used by the suspects.

No arrests have been made as of this writing. While officials confirmed there is gang activity in the area, they could not say if the shooting was related to any gang at this point.

San Bernardino was also the scene of a mass shooting in 2015. The tragic incident involved a husband and wife who killed 14 individuals and wounded 22 others – both attackers were later shot to death by the police. Authorities said the couple was inspired by Islamic extremists.

There was no indication that the past mass shooting had any connection to Sunday’s gun battle.

 

 

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Protesters in O’Hare Airport Arrested Trying to Disrupt Traffic

O'Hare airport in Chicago

Protesters have been arrested for trying to disrupt traffic in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Yonikasz

Protesters near O’Hare Airport in Chicago were arrested for attempting to disrupt traffic.

Several individuals were taken into custody on Monday after what seemed to be an ill-fated attempt to shut down the airport. The demonstration apparently involved activists concerned about economic injustice and gun violence in the city.

“In order to get the attention of the ear we need for the people’s needs, we need to perform some kind of massive action,” protest organizer, Rev. Gregory Livingston, declared before being handcuffed and escorted by cops.

Heavily outnumbered by police, dozens of protesters gathered at a ramp near O’Hare. Aside from closing off the scene, authorities warned other protesters that they could face arrest if they venture onto the highway.

“I need you all to remain peaceful, don’t disturb them, because guess what? We’ve already achieved our goal. I want to thank all of you that came out. This is not the end,” Livingston told his fellow protesters.

The Coalition for a New Chicago planned to shut down the Kennedy Expressway before marching to O’Hare. Their goal was to put pressure on Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and hear their concerns.

According to protesters, their goal was to block both sides of the expressway. They needed to purposely inconvenience people so that their group would be heard.

Mayor Emanuel has already said in the past that citizens depend on O’Hare and Midway jobs and economic opportunities. As a result, he believes protesters should not send their message in a way that would cause a disturbance in other people’s livelihoods.

In response, Livingston said getting through Rahm is not as easy as it seems.”Rahm is inaccessible, and not a people person,” he explained. “He runs from the people and we’re just gonna chase him until we get him as long as he’s getting a pay check, because that’s the taxpayer’s money.”

A huge police presence was seen during the protest. Authorities said it was a joint effort between the Illinois State Police, Park Ridge Police and the entire city of Chicago.