We are seeing something in America that most people never thought we would live to see: the rise of socialism. And not just the rise of socialism, but the wholehearted embrace of socialist programs and economics. The front man leading this charge is none other than Bernie Sanders: 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate.
On the surface, the changes that Bernie wants to provide (and to a lesser degree Hillary Clinton as well) seem like they would be great! I mean, who wouldn’t want free health care, free college, more money in my pocket, and never have to worry about money for retirement, or paying for anything else for that matter?
The problem is, to quote Margaret Thatcher: “socialism only works until you run out of someone else’s money.”
Sure, all this free stuff sounds great, and makes some great television in a sound byte culture, and could probably fool your uninformed voter, but it’s all a pipe dream because we can’t afford to pay for it. Let’s take a look at just some of the proposals Bernie has put forward on his website:
Demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. As president, Sen. Sanders will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes...He will also enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.
What Bernie fails to understand is that this line of thinking is what has caused the problems we face in the first place. According to the Tax Foundation, the US has the third highest general top marginal corporate income tax rate in the world, sitting at 39.1%. The world average corporate income tax rate is 22.6%. Increasing the tax rate on corporations and millionaires won’t stop them from moving their jobs overseas, unless the government enacts laws preventing them from doing so, which is, guess what, socialism!
Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. In the year 2015, no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.
Again, this sounds great to everyone making under $15 an hour. The problem is, the market will never allow this to be a sustainable solution to poverty. It’s cheaper to invent a machine that will make food without the requirements of breaks, lunches, sick days, vacation days, or any other reason to miss work. What happens then? Why, all the people who were making the current minimum wage lose their jobs. But won’t the people just pay a few cents more for their hamburgers, to quote Bernie Sanders himself? Unfortunately for Mr. Sanders, the market doesn’t work that way. Yes, an increase of business expenses (likes raises) usually goes to the consumer, but the addition of the expenses it would take to increase all minimum wage jobs to $15 an hour would just end up with mass layoffs until employers can adjust to the new normal of having to pay their employees that much money. Unless of course you passed a law preventing this, then you’ve got socialism!
Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.
Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program. Today, the youth unemployment rate is off the charts. We have got to end this tragedy by making sure teenagers and young adults have the jobs they need to move up the economic ladder.
Making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America. Everyone in this country who studies hard should be able to go to college regardless of income.
I put these three promises together because my comments are relatively similar for all of them: who is going to pay for it? You want to invest $1 trillion over five years towards infrastructure? How are you going to pay for it, because the stimulus bill tanked, and that’s what it was supposed to accomplish. Want to invest $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program? How are you going to pay for it? And are you going to force companies to hire youth when they have no positions available? Guess what that is: socialism! Want to make college free? How are you going to pay for that when you want to pay for the other things on top of the $127 trillion in unfunded liabilities that exist because of Social Security and Medicare, which leads me to his next points:
Expanding Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000. At a time when the senior poverty rate is going up, we have got to make sure that every American can retire with dignity and respect.
Guaranteeing healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system. It’s time for the U.S. to join every major industrialized country on earth and provide universal healthcare to all.
I’ll tackle these together, since they go hand in hand.
I think that Mr. Sanders is overlooking the fact that Social Security/Medicaid has been getting deeper into trouble since around the last time that a Clinton resided in the White House, and raising taxes on the wealthy isn’t going to cut it. I don’t think Mr. Sanders understands that SSI/Medicaid was never intended to be the only source of retirement for Americans. He also misses the fact that we take out more than we put in, which means that those who are on SSI are getting more benefits than they paid into the system during their lifetime of working. For example, Politifact ran a story on Medicaid and Social Security, reporting statistics compiled by the Urban Institute. Here’s what they found:
According to the institute’s data, a two-earner couple receiving an average wage — $44,600 per spouse in 2012 dollars — and turning 65 in 2010 would have paid $722,000 into Social Security and Medicare and can be expected to take out $966,000 in benefits. So, this couple will be paid about one-third more in benefits than they paid in taxes.
The whole problem of these retirement benefits can be summarized into one simple sentence: Not enough people are paying into the system to cover those who are taking out of the system. And the problem is only getting worse as people are living longer lives, while more and more people are paying less and less taxes. Forbes is reporting that the number of people who did not pay federal income taxes in 2014 was “45.4 percent, nearly 5 percentage points higher than our 2013 estimate of 40.4 percent.”
I really don’t see how it is fair to raise taxes on the wealthy when almost 50% of the population doesn’t pay any taxes at all!
But with the economy the way it is, barely hanging on by a thread, what would raising taxes on the lower classes do to their standard of living? It’s not an easy decision by far, but trust me when I say that a decision on these issues is going to have to be made, and soon.
I’ve got room for one more of Bernie Sanders “great ideas for America.”
Requiring employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and 7 days of paid sick days. Real family values are about making sure that parents have the time they need to bond with their babies and take care of their children and relatives when they get ill.
Ok, so twelve weeks of paid family leave is 3 months, adding on 2 more weeks of paid vacation, and 7 paid sick days. That means that theoretically a person could get almost 1/3 of an entire year off, all on the company’s dime! And that’s just one employee! What would happen to that business if multiple employees all had illnesses or pregnancies at the same time? This would absolutely kill the small business. Also, I have a hard time buying anything a person says about bonding with babies and children when they are pro-choice. I guess the paragraph should talk about bonding with babies that are wanted.
Sure, we all want something for nothing, but I would hope that we understand that there really isn’t a free lunch out there when it comes to our economy. Socialism does not lift the poor out of poverty; it only pulls more and more people down into the hole. This is how socialists truly achieve equality.