All Aboard Starship Bernie!
The chattering class is amazed at the rise of avowed socialist Bernard Sanders, running against hyper-welfarist Hillary Clinton. But Sanders’s campaign is just the latest chapter in the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch -- from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama.
When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to explain the differences between a Democrat and a socialist, she changed the subject. Hillary Clinton snapped “I’m not going to get into it. You’d have to ask him [Sanders]” -- or you can check her e-mails. In a 2010 Gallup Poll, 53% of Democrats said they had a positive impression of socialism.
In the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Sanders was supported by 84% of 17-to-29 year-olds -- those least connected to reality. Even the nonstudents among them have little life experience. If they have jobs, they’ve only been working a few years. Many still live at home with their parents. Most are unmarried and don’t have children to raise or mortgages to pay. That’s why they can so easily fall for a codger peddling recycled nostrums.
Sanders has the perfect resume to lead them. Before he won elective office, he was an agitator -- or “community organizer” in Obama-speak. He’s spent the past 35 years in government, 26 of them in Washington. He never ran a business, met a payroll, or created a job for anyone.
The Vermonter has a typical elitist contempt for capitalism. He told an interviewer last year, “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants and 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.” (Socialists hate consumer choice.) How many kinds of deodorant do we need -- four, three, two? And who decides whether it’s Ban or Arrid Extra Dry, Commissar Bernie?
Human credulity knows no bounds. Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven’s Gate cult was another prophet of the absurd. In 1997, Applewhite convinced 38 of his followers to join him in committing suicide (with massive doses of Phenobarbital and plastic bags wrapped around their heads) so their spirits could ascend to the alien spaceship hidden in the tail of the Hale-Bopp Comet.
Sanders is urging his young followers to kill their futures along with the U.S. economy. Bernieism is concocted of equal parts of class envy, economic illiteracy, and a touching faith in government to lead us to Marx’s golden age where no one works and we all frolic in the sun.
Bernie wants to give the kids free college educations. (Hurrah!) So who pays the salaries of professors and teaching assistants? Who pays for language labs and gymnasiums? Why, taxpayers, of course, including many low-income workers. That’s socialist fairness.
But the Eugene V. Debs clone has something for the working poor too -- doubling the minimum wage to $15 an hour. In socialism’s alternate universe, government can set any wage it wants, which businesses will happily pay. If that’s the way it works, why stop at doubling the minimum wage -- why not triple or quadruple it?
Every time we raise the minimum wage, youth unemployment increases. The 16 to 19 demographic had an unemployment rate of 45% in 2011, compared to 26% in the year 2000. That staggering number represents lost tax revenue, increased social spending and, most importantly, lost opportunity. One of two things happen when the minimum wage goes up: a business passes the cost on to consumers, or it sheds the least productive employees -- like the baggers in supermarkets or kitchen help, and busboys in restaurants.
Can the Vermont senator cite an example of successful socialism? The USSR collapsed under the dead weight of decades of five-year plans. North Korea doesn’t have an economy. Cuba is a basket case. China started on the road to prosperity by abandoning Maoism.
Sandersistas cry foul. Those are failed communist experiments, they counter. (What is communism but socialism with a gun?)
But what about Venezuela, with the world’s largest oil reserves and an inflation rate of 720%? A January 29 headline in the Washington Post warned: “Venezuela is on the brink of a complete economic collapse.”
Sweden has an income tax that takes 55% of GNP and a value-added tax as high as 22.5%. Altogether, the Swedish government controls roughly two-thirds of the nation’s economy. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad told Forbes that Swedish bureaucrats often accuse him of exploiting workers and “only wanting profits.” The nerve!
A quote often attributed to Winston Churchill goes: “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”
So, what’s Bernie’s excuse?