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

Monday, March 09, 2020

Two Socialist Memes

Bernie Sanders uses two socialist memes repeatedly as part of his class warfare strategy. He continually tells us that "the rich" don't pay their fair share of taxes and implies that by raising taxes on the rich, all of his utopian "free stuff" policies (e.g., free medical care, free college, guaranteed income) could magically be subsidized. He compliments the first lie with a second. Recently, he asked "What kind of country allows a person with a life threatening illness to be bankrupted by medical costs?" as he lobbies for a medicare-for-all program that would bankrupt the entire country (oh wait, it would be paid for by increased taxes on the rich and the middle class, so no worries).

Let's take each of his claims separately. First—that the rich don't pay their far share. The editors of the Washington Examiner comment:
Last week, the IRS released its annual Statistics of Income. This much-anticipated document is exactly what it sounds like: a thorough analysis of taxpayers’ incomes and payments to the IRS, this time for 2018 ...

Out of 147 million IRS tax filers in 2018, just 0.3% (about 500,000) had incomes above $1 million. These earners and families made 17% of all taxable income in 2018 (just shy of $1.5 trillion) and paid 28.6% of all income taxes. That is significantly more than they would pay in a strictly proportional system, and of course, it doesn’t count state or local income taxes or the business taxes that high earners often pay.

Meanwhile, the 85 million filers at the bottom of the pay scale faced a justly and reasonably lower tax bill. Those reporting incomes of $50,000 or less (more than half of all filers) shouldered just 5.5% of the nation’s total income tax bill.

This goes to show that the United States has a tax system that favors those with lower incomes and demands a fair share, by any reasonable definition, from millionaires and billionaires.

But it demonstrates much more than that. It also shows, once again, that there is no way, through merely raising taxes on the richest of the rich, that anyone could ever hope to fund a massive government medical system or an environmental transformation of the economy. This remains true even if you extend punitive taxation to mere quarter-million-dollar earners — the top 3.64% of filers, who reported making more than $250,000 in income in 2018. This group also paid an outsized amount in taxes — 54.71% of all income, capital gains, dividends, and self-employment taxes collected by Uncle Sam. But even this larger group made only $3.24 trillion in taxable income.
Bernie and his supporters operate on belief fed by anger and dismiss any quantitative facts that belie Sanders' positions. There is no way that Sanders can fund his programs by taxing only the rich, and as his taxes inexorably trickle down to the middle class, they will cripple economic growth, destroy jobs, and lower wages. But that's what socialists do—every time.

But what about his question: "What kind of country allows a person with a life threatening illness to be bankrupted by medical costs?" In that question, there's the not-so-subtle implication that Bernie and his supporters don't like this country very much. What kind of country? How about:

-- a country where each citizen has the free to choose the kind of medical coverage they have
-- a country that is the health care destination for tens of thousands of people from other countries — when their "free" medical care fails them, they come here for timely treatment, more options, and frankly, better care
-- a country that continues to lead the world in medical innovation
-- a country that produces doctors who are as or more competent that any other country

Sure, our health care system can and should be improved, but tearing it down in order to improve it is idiocy—the kind of idiocy that only socialists embrace enthusiastically.

It's unclear whether Bernie Sanders will win the Democrat nomination for president. If he does, policies like the ones discussed in this post will lead to a BIG loss in the general election. And if he goes down to defeat in the remaining primaries, not a single Bernie Bro will ask whether maybe his loss is a failure in thinking and policy. Instead, they'll rail against "the system" that won't accept their warped view of what's right for America.