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When the government supplies the safety net you have to a least call it socialism. You can also call it wasteful, ineffective and un-American.

Pete,

A government-provided safety net is a great thing and not socialist. Socialism is the ownership of the means of production by government--the nationalization of industry, for example, where the telecom companies, airlines, etc. are owned by the government.

The provision of a safety net by government is fully compatible with capitalism and in fact has been and is a part of most capitalist countries, including the United States. The proper term, I suppose, is "welfare state," which many people use as an epithet, but is also an accurate description of a country with a government-provided safety net (which includes all Western industrialized nations).

Regarding Social Security, one of the problems with the program is that it is essentially a safety net program that provides support to the elderly through transfer payments from others, but has always been sold as a program that simply pays people back money that they've paid in. Hopefully any reform of the system will straighten out these conflicting justifications of the program.

Chris Rugaber
FoolMart
TMFRFK@fool.com
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