Originally Answered: What is socialism and how does socialism work?
The GOP too often confuses socialism (government-run or "public-owned") with Communism, so you might want to use an unabridged dictionary for definitions of each if this is for a class paper.
The United States has always been a yin-yang balance between socialism and capitalism, and functions best in terms of prosperity when this balance is preserved. Too much socialism without the offset of competitive capitalism can promote stagnation; too much capitalism without being reined in by socialism sparks bottomless-pit GREED.
Samples of socialism in the U.S. include, but are not limited to the following: our military, the courts, public libraries, national parks, the VA medical system, police and firefighters, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, our highways and roadways, bridges and tunnels, the FDA, OSHA, the EPA, our public schools and colleges, and so on. If you question the wisdom of having these agencies or programs be government-managed, then remember back when a Tennessee fire department that had been "privatized" (the town's residents had to pay a FEE for services) allowed a man's home and all his belongings BURN TO THE GROUND because he had failed to pay a $15 fee! Also recall the Republicans' DEREGULATED (removal of all "socialist" consumer protections, government regulations, consumer protections) housing and credit markets' COLLAPSE that has now caused MILLIONS of American homeowners to LOSE THEIR HOMES and then the capitalistic FINANCIAL SYSTEM MELTDOWN that wreaked havoc upon our own economy, but also upon European nations as well. Had there been some socialist REGULATIONS (OVERSIGHT) left in place, these private-sector COLLAPSES and MELTDOWN would have been averted.