Democratic Party: Not for Grown-ups

 
Pied_Piper2

Illustration by Kate Greenaway for Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” (public domain)

Think of today’s Democratic Party as the little village of Hamelin. A piper called Bernie Sanders toots his socialist tune, and all the little Democrats skip along behind him to … where exactly? According to the medieval legend, the Pied Piper of Hamelin led the children away and drowned them.

“Socialist” was once an epithet in American politics, but the Obama years may have effected a change. Fully 25 percent of Americans, Pew reported in 2014, disagreed with the statement “free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.” Fans of irony will note that only 3 percent of Vietnamese said the same, with 95 percent endorsing capitalism.

Bernie Sanders thunders that the United States can become a good Scandinavian-style socialist paradise — but without the huge taxes on the middle class that support those systems. (Denmark has the highest taxes in the world.) Sanders may be disillusioned to discover that Scandinavian countries have thriving private sectors and are in many respects more business-friendly these days than the US. Norway funds its welfare state through the sale of — wait for it — fossil fuel pumped from the North Sea. But Bernie doesn’t pause over pesky details like how to afford things. He and his party are officially in the reality-free zone where, if you close your eyes and wish with all your heart, dreams really do come true. He’s Santa Claus with a Brooklyn accent. This is not politics for grown-ups.

The Wall Street Journal toted up the new spending Sanders has proposed, including “free” college education for all, Medicare for all, expanding Social Security, paid family leave, bolstering private pensions, a youth jobs initiative, and infrastructure spending. They came up with the figure of $18 trillion over 10 years — and that doesn’t count his plan for universal preschool.

No problem, the self-described socialist counters, he will raise the money by taxing the “greedy one percent.” The problem is — arithmetic. The top one percent already pays 45.7 percent of all income taxes. The federal government brings in about $1.5 trillion a year in tax revenue. Even if you confiscated 100 percent of the earnings of those making $1 million or above, you’d only net $616 billion, not nearly enough for Bernie’s wish list (to say nothing of the depressing effect on productivity such taxes would have).

Without Elizabeth Warren in the race, Sanders has become the conscience of the Democratic Party. They fulminate about the rich, promise the moon, and flunk math.

They want America to be more like Denmark, and seem to miss completely what makes America special. Our creative, innovative, churning economy has not only created one of the highest standards of living in the world, but it supports the world economy.

The idea that “the rich” sit permanently atop a pyramid of worker drones is false. Consider the companies that were once ubiquitous but are now ailing or gone: The Sharper Image, Borders, Circuit City, Polaroid, Yahoo, Sears, and Toys R Us. Creative new competitors take their places. A US Treasury study in 2006 found that among taxpayers in the highest brackets in 1996, 30 percent had dropped below that 10 years later, with 2.6 percent dropping all the way to the bottom. Among those in the lowest income quintile in 1996, more than half had moved up 10 years later.

A dynamic economy grows out of respect for free markets, willingness to take risks (which includes tolerance for failure), reliable protection of property rights, future focus, light regulation, and openness to ideas. These traits traditionally made the American economy the most innovative in the world. From aeronautics to computers to medical equipment to energy to retailing to entertainment, U.S. creativity has produced the world’s most prosperous middle class. We still lead the world in patents, and we’re still inventing new business models like Uber and Airbnb. But we’ve layered so many stones onto the shoulders of businesses that the engine of innovation is slowing. For the first time since the 1970s, more businesses are dying than being born. In 2000, the US ranked second in the world in economic freedom according to the CATO Institute. Now, we’ve dropped to 16th.

Contra Sanders, we’ve been smothered in quasi-socialism for the past six years. The US economy desperately needs a shot of capitalism and growth. The middle class stagnates and poverty increases. The rich, as in Venezuela, Cuba, and Sweden, are making out fine in Obama’s America. It’s the middle class and the poor who need capitalism to lift them.

There are 16 comments.

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  1. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    With Sanders’ success so far and Clinton’s push to get to the Left of him on certain issues, I think it is safe to say that “Democrat” and “Socialist” now mean pretty much the same thing.

    • #1
  2. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    What a contrast with the liberty-loving GOP, dedicated as they are to the importation of cheap labour, the free-market virtues of the Ex-Im bank, and enabling 8 years without a federal budget.

    • #2
  3. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    Comedienne Victoria Jackson said a few years ago, “The Republicans have become Democrats and the Democrats have become Communists!”

    Personally, I find the comment a little too close to the truth for humor.

    And one of our big problems is that the Republican party no longer seems to speak up for limited government principals – for the ‘blessings of liberty’.   If no one stands up and explains to the people the downside of socialism, why wouldn’t they demand more and more ‘good things’ from the public treasury?

    The Republican party does not seem interested int his fight.  They just want limited government conservatives to shut up so they can continue to build their own power base.

    • #3
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    Either the Pied Piper or Lemmings.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
  5. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Let me know when you find a party that is for grown ups, and I’ll be happy to join.

    • #5
  6. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Whenever I see a person like Sanders, at an advanced age still holding onto ridiculous ideas and beliefs, I think, “What a tragedy, to be so old and yet so unwise.”

    • #6
  7. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Johnny Dubya:Whenever I see a person like Sanders, at an advanced age still holding onto ridiculous ideas and beliefs, I think, “What a tragedy, to be so old and yet so unwise.”

    Johnny,

    If people are rewarded for inanity long enough then they become addicted to it. Bernie is beyond help.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
  8. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    James Gawron:

    Johnny Dubya:Whenever I see a person like Sanders, at an advanced age still holding onto ridiculous ideas and beliefs, I think, “What a tragedy, to be so old and yet so unwise.”

    Johnny,

    If people are rewarded for inanity long enough then they become addicted to it. Bernie is beyond help.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I can’t wait to see what  you guys will write about me in 25 years.

    • #8
  9. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    Johnny Dubya:Whenever I see a person like Sanders, at an advanced age still holding onto ridiculous ideas and beliefs, I think, “What a tragedy, to be so old and yet so unwise.”

    Well said.

    • #9
  10. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    James Gawron:Mona,

    Either the Pied Piper or Lemmings.

    Regards,

    Jim

    That’s pretty interesting. I had heard that it was a myth that lemmings plunged to their deaths, but apparently not. Accordingly, the metaphor lives. Thank you!

    • #10
  11. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    That’s pretty interesting. I had heard that it was a myth that lemmings plunged to their deaths, but apparently not. Accordingly, the metaphor lives. Thank you!

    • #11
  12. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Denmark ranks higher than we do on Heritage’s freedom index. And this is true despite the high taxes and robust welfare state the Democrats are so envious of, which implies that their regulatory state must be practically non-existent compared to ours. Thus, if one accepts Kevin Williamson’s argument that central planning, not the welfare state, is what defines socialism, then Denmark is actually less socialist than we are.

    I get the feeling this will come as quite a shock to the Sandernistas.

    • #12
  13. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    I have to assume that 2.6% you refer to is made up largely of professional athletes.

    • #13
  14. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Well, the Democrat candidates’ song certainly does draw rats.

    • #14
  15. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    This was an ever-so-mean attack on the eternal wish for lasting social justice. A least three unicorns died just because you wrote this.

    • #15
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mona, it’s the “Democrat” party, not the “Democratic” party.  Sheesh . . .

    But I agree with you.  The Democrat party is not only “not for grownups”, but it’s also not for thinking people.  It’s primarily for university-indoctrinated robots, who have been programmed by their “this and that” Studies professors that to combat the white, male, Christian (or Jewish), privileged class, you must vote for the Dems . . .

    • #16

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