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Being Neighborly Ain’t Socialism

socialistI was reading an article the other day about the building of an early irrigation project in an arid part of the West and I was reminded of these teabagger dweebs. We live in Montana, in what is, by necessity, probably one of the most socialist parts of the world. Early in our history, and even today, it was sometimes necessary for communities to band together to accomplish projects that could never be done by an individual or local businesses. In order to get scarce water to crops and livestock, farmers and ranchers got together, shared tools, knowledge and effort in order to build miles of ditches that would benefit the community as a whole. No one owned the water, it was a shared resource that was valued and owned by everyone. It was socialism.

Other examples were the early rural schools, electric cooperatives and roads. We shared the expense and labor of building that infrastructure because we believed that it was the right thing to do for our neighbors, not merely because we would benefit. Westerners have always banded together to help each other. At harvest time, sheep shearing, barn raisings and roundup, we share the work. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. Because we are neighbors. Maybe we don’t call it by the name of socialism, but the results are the same. The collective ownership of community projects benefit everybody and nobody benefits more than anyone else. Most of the people carrying the signs don’t even know what socialism means. It’s just a funny name to call someone who disagrees with you. They are out there because someone told them they should be.

Today our neighbors are dying in large numbers because large corporations refuse to give them access to health care or price them out of the market. Proud Westerners, who believe in working for what they get, put off going to the hospital or physician because they can’t afford health insurance. The same people who would load a sick horse in a truck and drive 200 miles to the vet’s office in a blizzard to get it treated, wait until it’s too late for themselves, out of pride. 45,000 of your relatives, neighbors and friends die each year in this country because they don’t get adequate health care. We care about community in Montana. We care about each other. We believe that neighbors help one another. We may disagree politically or go to a different church, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be there when a neighbor falls on hard times. Let’s stop calling each other meaningless names. It’s time for us to stand up as friends and neighbors and see to it that all Montanans get the health care and respect that they deserve.

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