- Bill Maher pushed back against Republicans’ warnings of the rise of socialism in America Friday, pointing to the 2019 World Happiness Report that is dominated by "socialism-friendly" countries.
- Maher said "we don’t want ‘long lines for bread’ socialism, we want ‘you don’t have to win the lotto to afford brain surgery’ socialism."
- The US has seen a resurgence of fear over socialism in recent years that has been encouraged by warnings from conservative lawmakers and media warning of threats that lie in socialist legislation from Democratic lawmakers.
Bill Maher waved off concerns about socialism as a creeping threat in America and pointed to its potential to improve quality of life for citizens nationwide, dubbing it "capitalism plus."
On Friday night’s episode of HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher," the host appeared alongside a screenshot of Fox News host Tucker Carlson near the words "The cost of socialism," similar to the dire reports that often appear on the network to condemn policies deemed "far-left."
Maher waved off the warnings, asking: "If socialism is such a one-way ticket to becoming the nightmare of Venezuela, then why do all the happiest countries in the world embrace it?"
The host was referring to the countries ranked highest in the 2019 World Happiness Report including Finland, Denmark, and Norway, which are all "socialism-friendly." The United States was ranked 19th, despite low unemployment and crime rates.
Instead of socialism replacing capitalism, Maher said socialism’s influence in addition to capitalism could ease crushing economic pressures like healthcare.
"The right has a hard time understanding the concept that we don’t want ‘long lines for bread’ socialism," Maher said. "We want ‘you don’t have to win the lotto to afford brain surgery’ socialism."
Pointing to the countries ranked happiest, as captured by a number of factors including resident satisfaction and well-being, Maher said greater economic ease creates more room for a happier life.
"Happiness isn’t only about what you have, it’s also what you don’t have to worry about," he added. "Turns out, freedom from the fear of ending up in a tent below the overpass is a really great freedom. It’s called peace of mind."
Addressing the repellant nature of the word "socialism," Maher said, "let’s call it Capitalism Plus."
Concerns over socialism have remerged in recent years as high-profile Democrats including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez openly identified as Democratic socialists, which stoked responses from conservative media that harken back to fears rooted in the Cold War-era threat to American ideals from the Soviet Union.
President Donald Trump has piled on to these reactions in comments as recent as his 2019 State of the Union address, where he said "we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country," before pointing to conflict in Venezuela and politicians like Ocasio-Cortez.
Trump added, "America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."
Watch Maher’s full comments below:
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