{Empty title} | The Nation

As Bernard Shaw pointed out, streetlights are a form of socialism; we benefit from them whether we pay taxes or not. But would we really want to live in the dark, just to avoid giving someone a "handout"?

Surely we all benefit if our citizens have access to healthcare, education, food and shelter. The absence of such amenities of civilization promotes crime, resentment, and general barbarism. Those who resent sharing their good fortune to any degree might consider moving to Alaska, where they could worship at the altar of Sarah Palin and really enjoy the every-man-for-himself philosophy.

The Founders wrote frequently of "the common good" and "social happiness." No one accuses them of communism. Some of the earlier states (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts) are known as "commonwealths"--a truly pinko term. Parks are still known in places as "the commons"--think of Boston Commons. Even the NYC wealthy could not enjoy Central Park if it were parcelled up into individual pieces of property.