Democratic socialism becoming less scary for Americans, says author

Nov 18, 2021, 5:14 PM
democratic socialism...
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at George Washington University in Washington, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, on his policy of democratic socialism, the economic philosophy that has guided his political career. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

SALT LAKE CITY — Advancing the policies of democratic socialism should revolve around what they buy for voters and not just about what the price tag is, an author, teacher and podcast host said.

Ben Burgis is a philosophy instructor at Georgia State University Perimeter College and the author of “Canceling Comedians While the World Burns: A Critique of the Contemporary Left” and host of the podcast “Give Them An Argument.” He joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson.

Boyd asked what listeners should be thinking about when they hear terms like democratic socialism.

Burgis said democratic socialists support broadly popular policies like Medicare for all and universal child care.

“Things like this that can take care of some people’s basic needs in ways that don’t rely on the market taking care of it,” he said.

Uber capitalism?

“You talk about it in terms of there being a moment for these kinds of policies. Why do you think this is the moment to be having those discussions?” Boyd asked.

Burgis said compare the difference between a cab driver in 2005, before the economic crash of 2008, and an Uber driver today. The cabbie probably belonged to a union, had health-care insurance and a good amount of job security. Today’s Uber driver must fret about their rating constantly, he said.

“They have no particular guarantee of future income. They’re certainly not unionized, and there’s an excellent chance they don’t even have health insurance,” Burgis said.

He added many workers in virtually all sectors of the economy have followed a similar job trajectory in their own ways.

“These are things that do create a lot of appetite for those democratic socialist policies that I’m talking about,” Burgis said. “The ‘s’ word, socialism, is probably much less scary to a lot of people now than would have been the case 20 years ago.”

Although, he admits, there is much work to be done in convincing people that these policies could actually be enacted. 

It costs how much?

As seen in the latest presidential campaign, Boyd said, the conversation about socialist policies ultimately arrives at the question of: How do we pay for all of this?

He said recently discussions about Biden’s legislative agenda have revolved around how much the bills cost and not about what they buy.

“I would argue that there’s a little bit of a double standard because we don’t do that with the military budget, for example,” Burgis said.

In terms of democratic socialism, he said, the proposed policies come down to — you get back more than you put in.

“I think there are countries elsewhere in the world where that argument has been won,” he said. “But when the entire discussion is framed in terms of price tag, obviously, you’re not gonna win that argument because people haven’t the vaguest idea of what they’re getting back.”


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Democratic socialism becoming less scary for Americans, says author