Some people are very afraid of "socialism" in America. That's understandable, there are good reasons to be afraid of genuine socialism, there are many good reasons against it. The socialist East Bloc was dictatorial, oppressive and ruled with brute force. What surprises me, though, is the lack of rationality when it comes to identifying socialism, and the inflationary, hyperbolic use of the term "socialism" to smear political opponents, or ideas which are not socialist at all, by some people. For example, Europe is accused of "socialism", although many Western European countries are at the top of the world's economy, some even beat the US when it comes to GNP per capita and various indexes measuring the degree of freedom and quality of life find some of these allegedly "socialist" countries ahead of the US. How is this possible when they are "socialist"? The answer is simple: They are not socialist. All European countries are free market economies. The only thing different from the US is a higher degree of social safety nets -- a bit more redistribution of money. But that's all. The economy is mostly private, and the amount of money redistributed is tiny compared to the amount of money distributed by the free market. A genuine socialist would laugh at this tiny fig leaf covering the weak spots of the free market -- genuine socialists want a ban on private possession of factories, companies and financial transactions. In genuine socialism, all companies are nationalized and state owned. Also, some accuse Obama's economic policies of being "socialist". To put this into perspective again, let's take a look at that: Source: http://correspondents.theatlantic.com/conor_clarke/2009/06/what_socialism_looks_like.php So why don't we stop using the term "socialism" in a hyperbolic and exaggerated manner? When we look at the facts, socialism is a completely different animal than some seem to believe.