Bernie launches an assault on entrepreneurship, jabbing at Trump

Does Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have a 'thing' against entrepreneurs, small business creation, or wealth-creation in general?

You bet he does. The top socialist running for president in the 2020 election came out with this whopper at his campaign opening, reported by Breitbart News:

“I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos, and country clubs,” Sanders said. “I did not come from a family that gave me a two-hundred-thousand-dollar allowance every year beginning at the age of three. As I recall, my allowance was twenty-five cents a week.”

Sanders also said he “did not come from a family of privilege that prepared me to entertain people on television by telling workers, ‘You’re fired.’”

To get a more treacly view of the same story, as well as a couple of positively Leninesque photos of the man, check out the New York Times' oozy version of it here.

Since I'm a former reporter for Forbes magazine's famous billionaire's list, I think this needs some weighing in on.

Sanders is saying he didn't inherit any money from his father for the, gadzooks, dreadful purpose "to build luxury skyscapers, casinos, and country clubs." 

Sanders left out hotels, a steak empire, a university venture, and a men's necktie line. Some of these things succeeded and some failed.

But Trump founded all of those things, all of those different companies, taking the fortune he inherited -- along with the risk he would lose it -- to create dozens of new companies in his pre-politics career, providing products that people want as well as jobs and livelihoods for others -- people like Bernie Sanders's own father, who sold paint on behalf of someone with a payroll to supply paint stores. That's called creating value. That is what we mean by adding to the economy, and biggening up the pie. Bernie doesn't see it that way and in blasting Trump, he's promoting a disgusting stereotype of entrepreneurship as something very very awful. 

Trump did entrepreneurship a lot with his small inherited fortune, knowing that some ventures would succeed and some would fail. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks, and all entrepreneurs have successes and failures to show for that. Trump is like a lot of billionaires we would look at and count the fortune of at Forbes in those days, the most typical kind, in fact - someone who would take a small fortune and instead of spend it on stuff for himself (as millions of heirs do), use it to create a bigger fortune. Some elements would work and others wouldn't, and that takes a thick skin to be able to swallow. Trump did, and that is why he's a billionaire.

It's also significant that Trump did it in New York, which has a famously hostile business climate, a monstrous amount of competition, and creepy special factors to get around, such as mafia shakedowns. That anyone could succeed in even some of those ventures in New York is genuinely impressive because taking on any, not to mention, all, of those risks and obstacles requires guts. If someone is willing to take them, good. If someone is willing to take them and actually succeeds at beating them, then we are looking at someone special. This is where Trump's famous confidence probably comes from.

Sanders, by contrast, also has a fortune - three homes, his private jet, and who knows how much other stuff we don't know about - not spent on initiating new products or creating jobs, but spent on himself.

What's more, he didn't make that fortune from taking risks with what he had as Trump did - Sanders made it from life in public office. One of the congressional old boys, possibly making money off inside trading, land deals or cronyism, as Peter Schweizer wrote about in "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison." It's more than a little passing strange that Sanders is one of those guys who got rich while 'serving' in public office. Maybe that needs to be looked at more closely.

Because all his attacks on Trump are attacks on entrepreneurs, something perfectly in line with the thinking of a socialist. For Bernie, government is where you go to when you want to get rich, anyone who uses his own brains and wits employed in a free marketplace to get rich is 'immoral.' Trump created companies, jobs and value. Sanders just spent the money he got hold of from government on himself.

Explain to us again which man is more fit to lead us?

Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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