Bernie Sanders Does Not Understand How the Economy Works (Because He’s a Socialist)

 

Bernie Sanders doesn't understand how the economy works because he's a socialistOne of my neighbors recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper lamenting that someone had stolen his Bernie Sanders sign from the end of his driveway. While I do not support Sanders — I prefer candidates who have a basic understanding of the economy — it is despicable to remove political signs. The thief is not only interfering with my neighbor’s right to political speech but also violating his right to private property. A few weeks ago someone stole a pumpkin from the end of my driveway. A pumpkin! Speaking of thievery, Mr. Sanders is a self-described socialist. Under socialism, there is no right to private property and no free speech.

Mr. Sanders does not understand how the economy works. He believes it is “rigged” in order to benefit the “billionaire class.” What Mr. Sanders does not grasp is that no one can control the economy. Socialism seeks to exert control but fails, miserably and inexorably, every time. It’s not that “real” socialism has never been tried, as its defenders often assert, but that real socialism has been implemented repeatedly and has repeatedly degraded the human condition.

One need look no further than the difference between North and South Korea for the truth. Or consider that under socialism, life expectancy in the USSR fell while in the West it rose. Or look to Venezuela, where they don’t even have toilet paper any more — that is what an economy rigged by socialism looks like. In Cuba, dissidents seeking to exercise free speech are beaten in the streets by Castro’s thugs, jailed on trumped-up charges, or killed. Indeed, more than 100 million people died under socialism in the 20th century alone.

Like all socialists, Mr. Sanders peddles envy. “These” people have “this,” but you don’t. Therefore, “they” are bad, and we will take what “they” have and give it to you. The Jacobins vilified the monarchy and the clergy; the Bolsheviks blamed the Tsars and other aristocrats; the National Socialists scapegoated the Jews; the Khmer Rouge and the Red Chinese both denounced the intellectuals. The results were: dead kings, dead priests, dead Tsars, dead Jews, dead anyone-who-could-read-and-write.

We are $18 trillion in debt and Mr. Sanders proposes adding an additional $18 trillion in spending over the next ten years. Since we already run a deficit each year of approximately $500 billion, give or take, Mr. Sanders would like the national debt to be approximately $41 trillion in 2025. To pay for this, he speaks loudly about taxing the “millionaires and billionaires.” A trillion is a large number. It’s hard to imagine. But try for a moment. One trillion is equal to one million million. Mr. Sanders wants to tax “millionaires and billionaires” to pay off a multi-trillion dollar debt.

But this is lunacy. In 2010, the top 20% of income earners paid a whopping 93% of the federal taxes collected that year. The hated top 1% paid 37% of the income taxes. All “millionaires and billionaires,” right? Wrong. The top 20% bracket starts at about $90,000 a year, the top 1% at around $350,000 a year. Even if we were to confiscate all the wealth of all the “millionaires and billionaires” in the country, we could not even begin to pay off our current debt, let alone the additional debt Mr. Sanders proposes. In fact, even Mr. Sanders admits this impossibility. On ABC’s The Week, he recently endorsed a Senate bill authored by Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY) that would increase the payroll tax, which is levied against all workers.

I completely disagree with my neighbor’s desire to put a socialist in the White House, but he should be able to put up a sign professing his support for a monstrous ideology nonetheless.

Photo credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com.

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  1. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Max Ledoux: Under socialism, there is no right to private property and no free speech.

    I challenge both assertions.  Bernie calls himself a “democratic socialist” and points to Scandinavia as an example to emulate.  I don’t think socialism necessarily requires a totalitarian state in the model of Communist nations like the USSR, North Korea, or Cuba.  The Scandinavian example (or pre-Thatcher England) seems to demonstrate that it’s possible for democratic institutions and civil rights including free speech to coexist with socialism.

    As for private property, even the USSR and North Korea had it to some extent.  People can own their own clothes, furniture, yard signs, and pumpkins.

    The classic definition of socialism is government ownership of the means of production, i.e. the government owns and runs all the major businesses.  It’s a centrally planned economy.

    There’s plenty to criticize in that idea alone.  I think our case is more convincing if we don’t suggest that all Bernie supporters are closet totalitarians.

    • #1
  2. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Joseph Stanko: I think our case is more convincing if we don’t suggest that all Bernie supporters are closet totalitarians.

    Well, they are.

    • #2
  3. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Max Ledoux:Even if we were to confiscate all the wealth of all the “millionaires and billionaires” in the country, we could not even begin to pay off our current debt, let alone the additional debt Mr. Sanders proposes. In fact, even Mr. Sanders admits this impossibility. On ABC’s The Week, he recently endorsed a Senate bill authored by Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY) that would increase the payroll tax, which is levied against all workers.

    .

    Yes.  I have found that progressives routinely overestimate how much money there is to potentially redistribute by a factor of about one thousand.  For example, progressives will point out that the CEO of Walmart makes about 1000 times what a low wage worker makes.  What they always fail to point out is that Walmart has about two million employees.  So the low wage workers income, in aggregate, is about a thousand times greater than the CEO (1 million divided by 1 thousand is 1 thousand).

    The progressives are so concerned with the rich having too much money, they don’t stop to think about poor people and what they actually need.  They get really angry about a Walmart CEO making $20 million a year, but never stop to ask what $20 million is worth to two million workers, namely $10 per year.  How much does a Walmart worker pay in payroll taxes over a year?  A lot more than $10 I think.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The only people who come out ahead under socialism are the below-average. Everybody else loses. Therefore, the way one maximizes one’s benefits is to be more below average than everyone else. And thus the society corkscrews itself into poverty.

    • #4
  5. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Anyone who sees a Scandinavia country (small, homogeneous and protected by the US) as a viable model for the United States can’t be… umm… too smart.

    • #5
  6. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    As has long been demonstrated, it’s not that Bernie doesn’t understand economics.  He chooses not to.  He’s peddling re-distributionism (perhaps a new word there), which is really peddling envy and greed.  From a guy who talks about greedy capitalists all day long, he seems to neglect the fact that what he’s selling means it’s OK for people to be greedy about other peoples’ money, property, and, really, their lives.

    Oh, and his economic “plan” is so stupid it barely deserves a fisking, but it got one anyway.

    • #6
  7. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    The arguments are true but don’t move people of the left including lots of center left and center right Republicans.  They’d all dispute that they mean socialism in the classical sense, rather they want to cure the “excesses of capitalism”.  Of course since the regulatory state and welfare state are the main sources of most of those excesses, the deteriorating income distribution, and the growth of an under class we must make better arguments.  Carly does it better than the others but all touch on it.   Moreover, talking about who pays income taxes misses a powerful reality.  The super wealthy, most of whom are  Democrat donors don’t pay income taxes on most of the change in their wealth.  They enjoy unrealized capital gains and occasionally long term capital gains.   The regulatory state, the administrative state started out suffering regulatory capture by the interests meant to be regulated, now it’s no longer capture it’s original design.  The reality is that even if our regulatory state were run by people as smart as our candidates with the best of intentions divorced from influence from  regulated industries they could not do the job, because the arguments against administrative control and economic policing are the same arguments against central planning.  It can’t be done.  The information is not knowable and becomes knowable and available only with total stagnation so that today’s information is the same as next years.   Their model will end with totalitarianism.

    • #7
  8. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    I’ve read this a couple of times, nice work Max, and come to different conclusion(s).

    I think Bernie Sanders understands more than we give him credit. The reason he works relentlessly as a socialist democrat is that the varied outcomes, personal wealth accumulation, and lack of reliance on central gov’t that are hallmarks of a free market economy are the anathema of leftists of which he is an unabashed card carrying member.

    It isn’t that he, Hillary, Obama, or O’Malley don’t understand how a free market economy works it is just that they can’t control those who participate and prosper in that economy. Additionally, they are ill suited to participate and prosper in such.

    Leftism is a false religion of control and the right/ability to earn the fruits of our labor and risk capital helps secure individual liberty and crushing liberty is ultimately what Bernie Sanders and company is about.

    • #8
  9. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    All of this may be true, but do not underestimate Sanders and his ilk.  Nearly all of the items that Sanders identifies as problems are problems. (Crony Capitalism, wage stagnation, etc.)  It’s that his solutions are crazy.  However, if no other candidate comes along and says, “Yes these are problems, but here are better solutions”, then voters will be taken in by Sanders.

    • #9
  10. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    That we have a (two-term!) crypto-socialist community organizer in the White House, an unrepentant socialist redistributionist polling well in the Democratic race, a presumptive Democratic nominee who is a pathological liar and spouse of a disgraced president, and a vulgar bully and reality-TV star polling well on the Republican side does not bode well for our country.

    The movie “Idiocracy” is looking more and more like prophecy.

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Back in 2004 when Bush was running for re-election, I worked in a small real estate office here in the FL Panhandle – someone was stealing the pro-Bush signs left and right – one day we heard all these choppers and saw cops flying down the road along with secret service past our offices – they were sweeping the area because Bush decided to come through and go to Seaside for some ice cream and “visit”! We had minutes and no Bush signs! So we got out construction paper and magic markers and wrote on 4 pages “WE – LOVE (a heart symbol) – YOU – W” and 4 of us and the broker ran out to hold them up – in our excitement, we didn’t realize the dummy on the end had the W upside down – it looked like a large butt…

    People poured out all along the route to wave and cheer – there we were with our homemade sign – the big tour bus came flying past – there was Bush at the front with the driver waving and smiling- so funny! Sorry, but I’m with the Sanders Sign Stealers.- it’s a free country….he can improvise.

    • #11
  12. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    David Knights:All of this may be true, but do not underestimate Sanders and his ilk. Nearly all of the items that Sanders identifies as problems are problems. (Crony Capitalism, wage stagnation, etc.) It’s that his solutions are crazy. However, if no other candidate comes along and says, “Yes these are problems, but here are better solutions”, then voters will be taken in by Sanders.

    This is Carly’s main thrust and her pitch has the benefit of being true.

    • #12
  13. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Deficits, schmeficits! All we need to reach Utopia is a measly $10 billion dollars a day! The great Iowahawk shows us how.

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    BrentB67: Leftism is a false religion of control

    People should keep this point front and center at all times when dealing with the Left.

    • #14
  15. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Percival:The only people who come out ahead under socialism are the below-average. Everybody else loses. Therefore, the way one maximizes one’s benefits is to be more below average than everyone else. And thus the society corkscrews itself into poverty.

    All true, except that the commissars that run the operation do quite well.

    • #15
  16. Carol Member
    Carol
    @

    I will give Bernie some credit for being honest enough to say he would raise everyone’s taxes, not just the hated 1%’s. I notice that this hasn’t received very much attention from the media.

    • #16
  17. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Socialists end up re- distributing poverty not wealth. Socialists become totalitarian because eventually everyone must lose their freedom to try to sustain the system . Elites think they know was best and opposition needs to be crushed.

    • #17
  18. Barkha Herman Inactive
    Barkha Herman
    @BarkhaHerman

    Max – really!  What part of “FREE” do you not understand???

    12191534_533474156801487_3038834242606639846_n

    • #18
  19. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Barkha, so sad but so true. The Government will pay for it.

    • #19
  20. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Barkha Herman:Max – really! What part of “FREE” do you not understand???

    12191534_533474156801487_3038834242606639846_n

    Please tell me that’s satire.

    • #20
  21. Barkha Herman Inactive
    Barkha Herman
    @BarkhaHerman

    Max Ledoux:

    Barkha Herman:Max – really! What part of “FREE” do you not understand???

    12191534_533474156801487_3038834242606639846_n

    Please tell me that’s satire.

    I stole it from a friends FB post; it was an image – so not sure.  None of my friends, even the lefties are permitted to be that stupid.

    • #21
  22. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Barkha Herman:Max – really! What part of “FREE” do you not understand???

    12191534_533474156801487_3038834242606639846_n

    scary sad and probably the norm……….

    • #22
  23. CuriousJohn Thatcher
    CuriousJohn
    @CuriousJohn

    Shouldn’t this be in all caps?

    (BECAUSE HE’S A SOCIALIST)

    • #23
  24. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’m afraid there’s a surprising number of voters who don’t understand that the government doesn’t make money or have money of its own, and that everything it spends is money it takes from the citizens. I have a lefty friend in CA who’s over the moon about Obamacare because it’s free and her husband’s pre-existing condition won’t matter. I had to explain to her that nothing is free, NOTHING. If it’s free to her, it means her fellow citizens are paying for her. DUH   The Repubs have to do a much much better job of articulating this

    • #24
  25. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Joseph Stanko: I think our case is more convincing if we don’t suggest that all Bernie supporters are closet totalitarians.

    But they are.  Except for those who have come out of the closet.

    • #25
  26. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Doctor Robert:

    Joseph Stanko: I think our case is more convincing if we don’t suggest that all Bernie supporters are closet totalitarians.

    But they are. Except for those who have come out of the closet.

    I’m not sure if you’re engaging in a bit of hyperbole, or you actually believe all Bernie supporters want to end free elections, install him as President for Life, repeal the First Amendment, and start jailing conservatives for thought crimes.

    • #26
  27. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    Nice post.  However, I would argue that when it comes to political lawn signs, taking others’ down is also a form of political speech.

    • #27
  28. Topher Inactive
    Topher
    @Topher

    Where did you get that Danielle Colton post? Of course it’s satire, but it is so dead on!

    • #28
  29. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Percival: The only people who come out ahead under socialism are the below-average. Everybody else loses. Therefore, the way one maximizes one’s benefits is to be more below average than everyone else. And thus the society corkscrews itself into poverty.

    I respectfully disagree. Ghetto Blacks, Reservation Native-Americans, and Appalachian whites, will do just as bad under socialism in America as they would under the free-market.

    There may be a slight increase in some beneficial program. But their lives will still be very sad.

    To be fair, their lives will still be terrible under a Milton Friedman Presidency.  Poverty is more of a cultural issue than it is a government issue.

    • #29
  30. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    RightAngles: I have a lefty friend in CA who’s over the moon about Obamacare because it’s free and her husband’s pre-existing condition won’t matter. I had to explain to her that nothing is free, NOTHING. If it’s free to her, it means her fellow citizens are paying for her. DUH   The Repubs have to do a much much better job of articulating this

    Additionally, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that big Pharma will invest less in medical science if they are completely dependent on government resources. It would make more sense for them to hire more lobbyists rather than researchers.

    As Thomas Sowell would put it, (I paraphrase very slightly) “to understand that nothing is free you need to think beyond stage one and people are usually not interested in that.”

    • #30

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