Who speaks for working people?

To the editor:

Americans have been bombarded for over a century with the idea that socialism is another word for communism and that it is very bad. The word socialism is just another word for the social contract that we make with one another as Americans. All it means is that we, collectively, decide to pay taxes for certain services.

Do you have your own private police force or do you pay for the city, county or state to provide one? How about fire department, trash collector, road maintenance or other service? Do you get Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid for mothers and new babies? These are all Socialist programs.

Don’t be fooled by those who would use scare tactics to try and influence your vote. During the Great Depression, bread lines stretched for blocks. Hungry working men and women could not find work and their families were starving. There were no programs to feed the hungry, nurse the sick or take care of the elderly who could no longer work.

So Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided to begin programs to take care of the elderly, feed the hungry, take care of the sick and help our wounded society. He was vilified as a communist and socialist, but he persevered. The programs we have today attest to his vision and concern for the “least” among us.

Socialism gives the government the power to tackle unemployment, hiring people as they did in the Depression to clean and repair the roads, build bridges, clear forest debris, and complete other tasks that were needed.

After World War II, workers throughout our country formed unions that began to advocate for better pay, eight-hour workday, a 40-hour work week and other considerations.

At the height of their influence during the 1950s, union membership was 47 percent of the workforce. However, a revolt grew among some workers who resented paying mandatory union dues. A conservative Supreme Court, led by Justice Alito, agreed with them and ruled that membership in a union and the mandatory obligation to pay dues was not necessary.

Today, membership has declined to 7 percent. Who is there today to advocate for the working man? Should working men and women have the power to advocate for themselves? What would that look like?

Elizabeth Keranen

Bakersfield, Calif.