Why do so many people take Bernie Sanders seriously?

"Hey, Bernie!  You've got a part in a picture!"

An old friend, who was chairman of a college art department, once told me a caricature is a drawing of a person that looks more like him than he looks like himself...because key characteristics are cleverly exaggerated.  Thus, we may see what was going through God's mind while he was making Bernie Sanders.

Bernie is such an obvious burned-out sixties radical that it's hard to understand why anybody takes him seriously.  But some do.  Perhaps it's because we no longer have a Soviet Union as a glaring example of the evils of communism.  (FYI, a communist is nothing more than an angry socialist — hell bent on eliminating the bourgeoisie.)  Economic illiteracy has a hand in this, too, as well as the human tendency towards social conformity.  We learn this on the schoolyard, suppressing our true nature in order to better fit in.

Radio rabbi Daniel Lapin once characterized socialism as being like gravity.  It takes work to defy gravity...and the temptation to stop flapping your wings and just take what the government gives you is seductive.  The realization that what the government gives you is pretty crummy has finally hit the streets of Cuba.  Ol' Bernie's alleged charisma is not faring well by comparison.

The key to a successful overthrow of tyranny in Cuba is that which didn't happen in Venezuela — where key elements of the military and paramilitary failed to break away from the regime.  This worked well for Lenin when he overthrew the Romanovs — starting with the naval barracks in Petrograd.

Wither goeth the left in America?  Especially if a cartoon such as Bernie is its hero?  Currently, they still think they're on the ascendency because of the younger media folks, who were indoctrinated in J-school and who prop up the Bernies and AOCs of the world.  There's a real problem with that model — it's called self-interest.  This is really what America was founded on — the opportunity to make a better life for yourself.  Get in the way, and you're in trouble.

Meanwhile, there's this intellectual fad known as "New Economics."  In some circles, it leads to the end of money.  Ah!  No problem with deficit spending!  Inflation is a myth.  Life is good!

Years ago, I was dragged to an auditorium in Berkeley to hear Cornel West and Michael Lerner pontificate on how life should be.  According to them, cash registers are oppressive.  Stores should just have a basket by the door so folks can toss in what they feel is appropriate for what they're taking.  Some trust fund baby heiress in New York blew through her entire estate in less than three months by taking that advice.

It gets even weirder: former labor secretary Robert Reich is being paid by the taxpayers of California to stuff mush into young skulls at U.C. Berkeley.  In defending the $15/hour minimum wage, he trotted out the statistic that the original minimum wage would be $12/hour when adjusted for inflation.  However, passing through the increases in productivity would then bring it up to $15.  Huh?  If increases in productivity are absorbed by increased labor costs — there is no increase in productivity.  Prices don't go down, profits don't go up, and the standard of living stays the same.  It also escaped him that increases in productivity vary, depending on the specific task being studied.  He also doesn't grasp the difference between renting and owning by advocating for tenants to gradually acquire an ownership share of the property they are occupying in partial exchange for their paying of rent.  Why, then, would investors bother to capitalize the building and maintenance of structures solely for the enjoyment of others when their ownership share will continue to diminish?

Bernie and his ilk are never interested in thinking through the goofball schemes they are constantly proposing.  They're not interested in results.  They only want the appearance of standing up to rescue the victims of rapacious capitalism.

Image: AFGE via Flickr.

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