Once again I’d like to reply to John Stossel’s column covering the crisis in Venezuela, progressive Americans and democratic socialism, which is not the same as Lenin’s socialism.

It is ridiculous for Stossel to claim that progressives want to take our country down the same road as Venezuela. Venezuela’s economy is almost totally oil dependent. It worked fine when oil prices were high but their economy crashed when oil prices were low.

Both Chaves and Maduro tried to diversify with agriculture and manufacturing but failed. I’m surprised Stossel did not bring up the sanctions imposed by President Obama which contributed to Venezuela’s crisis and continue to cause suffering.

I’m also surprised by Stossel’s glowing report of the Scandinavian countries that call themselves democratic socialists. Yes, they have capitalist economies but they also provide their citizens with free health care, free child care, paid parental leave, paid vacations and free college. They also pay higher taxes and have fewer billionaires.

America already has democratic socialism in the form of free military, police and fire protection. Free libraries. We have Medicare for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor and we have Social Security.

Most Americans are quite happy with these democratic social programs. Americans even elected a democratic socialist after the Great Depression in 1929. FDR — Franklin Delano Roosevelt — put people to work building the roads and bridges we enjoy today. He helped create the prosperous middle class we had in the 1950s-1980s, when millionaires and billionaires paid much higher taxes instead of getting tax breaks like they do now.

Let’s not hang up on the word “social.” Our democracy should benefit we the people just as much as it benefits the 1 percent. All Americans should have access to affordable health care like Scandinavian countries. Young people should be able to go to college without falling prey to banksters’ predatory loans. Parents should not have to choose between rent and food for their children. Americans deserve a living wage.

Right now many of our elected representatives are funded by corporate billionaires. They gave tax cuts to the rich and spent trillions of our taxpayer money on endless, for profit, wars.

We can do better. Please register to vote in 2020.

Jonnell Covault

Crescent City