By Bill Albee
I recently visited old friends who live in The Villages, which is retirement area in Florida near Ocala that has around 100,000 residents and is growing at a rapid pace. My host, who is a very conservative Republican, proudly showed me all around, pointing out the various village squares, community centers, golf courses, swimming pools, and every other amenity you can think of. I asked about the fees that are charged to maintain all the common areas, roads, and community buildings, and the fees to use the facilities. He enthusiastically explained that everyone paid a $150/month fee and could use any amenity anywhere in the entire group of villages. No matter if you are rich or living off social security, you pay the same monthly fee and have access to everything, he explained.
I said “you have a very socialist system here,” to which he was horrified. I explained that in my mind when all the amenities are available to everyone no matter their status or income and that everyone shares equally in the cost of those amenities, that is socialism at the local level. He said he had never thought of it that way, but after some discussion agreed that the equal access and equal cost to everyone was a form of socialism and that everyone living there is very happy with what they get for that monthly fee. While he couldn’t refute that their system was very socialist, he didn’t think many residents would accept labeling it as such.
We Americans practice socialism in many of our private and public organization, and in many Federal, State, and local governments. Democrats need to identify and communicate good examples of socialism in our country, and to particularly point out examples of socialism that Republicans like, but refuse to acknowledge as socialistic programs.