What you are using the word socialism to describe is properly called welfarism, and all modern democracies are to some degree welfare states: where public services and are paid for by the taxpayer. Progressive Taxation is sort of Socialist in that it makes the richest 10% of taxpayers pay 70% of the taxes that fund America’s Military, Police, Courts and every other Government Service, but that is what the voters wanted, and it is a democracy. I’d support a free public health system to run alongside the Private one to keep it honest, and to make sure no-one is refused treatment because they “can’t cut a cheque”.
“ Socialism, at it’s core, is the collective funding of some beneficial service that will then be made available to everyone without a cost barrier. “No that is called Welfarism, or Public Works, it isn’t Socialism although I can see why you think it is: the Public Service is owned by the State and their work is centrally planned, not market-driven.
“If we chose to make all of the public state colleges tuition free, that would be a form of socialism. I’d be all for it, too.” That would be Welfarism gone mad, and an absolute disaster; it would turn Universities into businesses churning out low-quality fluff degree graduates in order to maximise their income from the Government, it would run the Government broke, since Supply = Free means Demand=Infinite, and you would erode the value of a degree in the market. I know people with Political Science (That’s a Oxymoron!) Master’s degrees pumping gas, because no-one wants what they can offer: a degree in political correctness! We actually need more people learning trades like Electricians, Plumbers, Builders and the like. We already have too many Lawyers, Accountants and Social Scientists.
But I think you are right when you say “Your economic system isn’t either socialist or not. It is almost always a mix.” That’s true if I accept your definition of Socialist as “any benefit or service provide free by the government.” It is true that socialists who don’t have the ability to seize power, purge their enemies and Nationalise everything, tend to work in democracies to increase the amount of welfare and government services, funded by ever-increasing taxes on the “Rich”. What you describe as Socialism is what progressives try to achieve in a Democracy where they can’t have Socialism.
It is true that there is always a balance between how much of the economy is controlled by Government, and how much remains in Private hands. Some services are best organised on a State or National level and private enterprise is not the best or only model for service delivery. I support publicly funded services where they would otherwise not be provided at all. By your definition that means I’m a Socialist and a Capitalist, and all we are discussing is what mix we should have of both.
“Police and Fire would not be as effective if they operated on a profit basis.” You are aware that most Fire Brigades are funded by levies on Insurance Companies? That is a public model, but funded privately. And I don’t think private police forces are a good idea, but there is a place for Security guards to assist businesses and the police, and they are rent-a-cops. Police forces while Public Servants, should be run on a businesslike model, where the taxpayer’s money is spent frugally and well. Private enterprise has cost control in its DNA: the Public Service needs to learn this.
I think the government should be Constitutionally limited to 20% of GDP, then political debates would be on what to spend limited funds on, not about how to take more. Lower Taxes through Less Government!
I suspect your slogan would be Higher Taxes for More Government!