The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 29, 2016


It's interesting to observe Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail. He is a hero to those on the left and is enormously popular among young people. Those on the Left have already internalized his tales of a socialist utopia in which the federal government is the center of everyone's universe, private enterprise is controlled and regulated from Washington, and income inequality is eradicated not through the creation of new businesses or better opportunities, but via income redistribution all paid for through taxes on the rapacious "rich." Young people love his promises of "free" college, "free" healthcare, and debt forgiveness. Because they are too young and too incurious to understand the broad failure of the socialist model in country after country, they are easy marks for promises that never seem to come true in the real world.

In an editorial entitled, "Bernie Sanders’s fiction-filled campaign," the left-leaning Washington Post writes:
Mr. Sanders is not a brave truth-teller. He is a politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it.

Mr. Sanders’s tale starts with the bad guys: Wall Street and corporate money. The existence of large banks and lax campaign finance laws explains why working Americans are not thriving, he says, and why the progressive agenda has not advanced. Here is a reality check: Wall Street has already undergone a round of reform, significantly reducing the risks big banks pose to the financial system. The evolution and structure of the world economy, not mere corporate deck-stacking, explained many of the big economic challenges the country still faces.
Once the "bad guys" have been identified and defeated, Sander turns to healthcare. The WP editors write:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from.
Massive savings, I suppose, just like the savings that Barack Obama promised with Obamacare. Of course, those saving never materialized, and the ACA is a disaster at every level.

The universal healthcare program that Bernie promises will become a financial black hole costing taxpayers trillions of dollars over the next decade. Even worse, if other country's experiences are any indication, the quality of healthcare in the United States will be degraded and we'll have what Bernie might call "medical inequality"—poor services and availability for the masses and private doctors for people of means—including virtually all of the elites who would be champions of the abstract idea of universal healthcare.

But you don't have to believe me. In a startlingly honest assessment of Sander's universal health care proposal, left-leaning writes:
Bernie Sanders's health care plan is underfunded by almost $1.1 trillion a year, a new analysis by Emory University health care expert Kenneth Thorpe finds.

Thorpe isn't some right-wing critic skeptical of all single-payer proposals. Indeed, in 2006 he laid out a single-payer proposal for Vermont after being hired by the legislature, and was retained by progressive Vermont lawmakers again in 2014 as the state seriously considered single-payer, authoring a memo laying out alternative ways to expand coverage. A 2005 report he wrote estimated that a single-payer system would save $1.1 trillion in health spending from 2006 to 2015.

But he nonetheless concludes that single-payer at a national level would be significantly more expensive than the Sanders campaign believes, and would require workers to pay an additional 20 percent of their compensation in taxes. He also argues it would leave 71 percent of households with private insurance worse off once you take both tax increases and reduced health care expenditures into account.
The WP editors show still more skepticism when they write:
He [Sanders] would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.
Yet as Hillary slips, Bernie ascends.

The WP editors have it right when they state: "Mr. Sanders’s success so far does not show that the country is ready for a political revolution. It merely proves that many progressives like being told everything they want to hear."


Peggy Noonan comments:
Mr. Sanders makes it sound so easy. We’re rich, he says; we can do this with a few taxes. It is soft Marxism. And it’s not socialism now, it’s “democratic socialism” like they have in Europe. You’ve been to Europe. Aside from its refugee crisis and some EU problems, it’s a great place—a big welfare state that’s wealthy! The French take three-hour lunches.

Socialism is an old idea to you if you’re over 50 but a nice new idea if you’re 25.

Do you know what’s old if you’re 25? The free-market capitalist system that drove us into a ditch.

Polls show the generation gap. Mr. Sanders does poorly among the old. They remember socialism. He does well among the young, who’ve just discovered it and have little to no knowledge of its effects. A nationwide Marist poll in November showed Mr. Sanders already leading Mrs. Clinton, 58% to 35%, among voters under 30. She led him among all other age groups, and 69% to 21% among those 60 and older. By this month a CBS/New York Times poll had Mr. Sanders up 60% to 31% among voters under 45.

Bernie Sanders is an indicator of the Democratic future. He is telling you where that party’s going. In time some Democrats will leave over it, and look for other homes.
Socialism may very well be the future of the Democratic party. If the party dominates American politics in the years ahead, the United States will continue a period of decline that has already been initiated by the current Democratic administration. The young, who naively support the "fiction-filled" socialist promises of a Bernie Sanders, will get the future they deserve. And it won't be the utopian fantasyland of higher earnings, income equality, and social justice that Bernie promises.


It occurred to me as I was writing this piece that the amazing and uncharacteristic anti-Bernie commentary quoted in my post might be inspired/suggested by the Clinton campaign. Afterall, both the WP and Vox are left-leaning and this level of criticism for any Democrat, much less a socialist,  is uncharacteristic.

Frederik deBoer, a liberal commentator, writes:
Recent weeks have seen a large, simultaneous anti-Bernie Sanders effort by Democratic media. This movement is an attempt to ensure that a specific establishment, corporate candidate receive her scheduled coronation.
He goes on to suggest that "Democratic media" (an interesting choice of terms, isn't it?) should spend all of its time attacking conservatives. He fails to note that they do spend 99.9 percent of their time doing just that.

But I digress. I do think deBoer might be right in his analysis of the WP and Vox hit pieces on Bernie. The cruel truth, however, is that both WP and Vox are accurate in their criticisms of Bernie and therefore are doing a service to their progressive readership.