3 Bogus Reasons to Vote for Bernie Sanders

publication by: Trevor Cartwright
Written on Apr 11, 2016

Conversing with Bernie Sanders’s supporters is like watching Akira, the classic anime. When the movie ends, you just say, “Wait…what just happened? I’m so confused!” 

Sanders’s supporters live in a whirlwind of contradictions. For example, many who identify as libertarian have joined the Sanders band wagon. As a libertarian, this upsets me because a libertarian supporting a socialist is like a vegan eating beef; it just does not work that way. We are dealing with incompatible systems that rest on incompatible presuppositions. Besides confused libertarians, many liberals and even some conservatives support Sanders. They all want liberty, but they are willing to give it up for government guaranteed security. Do they realize how much they concede?

What I have found is that the delicate snowflakes (complete with their wispy beards and hipster apparel) who support Sanders loathe Capitalism, but they cannot define what it is. Similarly, they worship Sanders’s so called “Democratic Socialism, but, again, they cannot define it. When pressed, they usually resort to Trump bashing or bumper sticker slogans such as “the rich need to pay their fair share!” So, let us examine three bogus pro Sanders arguments.

1.	He is consistent.

So was Stalin! Consistency only matters when the person is consistently good. Much like Woodrow Wilson, Sanders has consistently supported pipe dreams that only work in places like Narnia, not the real world. Moreover, his unswerving loyalty to abortion (including barbaric partial birth abortion) turns my stomach.

Consistency is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition. Like Stalin, many practice evil consistently. Ron Paul is a (rare) example of a morally pure and economically sound politician who votes consistently. One must hold to a good ideology and demonstrate consistency.

2.	He is leading the fight against inequality!

Even a cursory glance at Sanders’s website (https://berniesanders.com/issues/income-and-wealth-inequality/) reveals a weak, one-sided case for his “sky is falling” view of inequality. Did you notice his sources? Berkeley? Inequality.org? Liberals would criticize a conservative for citing the NRA for gun violence data, but Bernie gets a pass? I doubt the extreme nature of some of his claims, but I do not doubt that inequality, as in socioeconomic differences, exists. Let’s start there.

First of all, inequality is an unavoidable part of life. Some are taller, while others are shorter. Some excel at sports, while others excel at music. Inequality exists, whether we like it or not. Why should the ability to earn and maximize wealth be any different, even in a perfect system of equal opportunity? Marx’s vision of a wholly egalitarian society has never existed, nor will it ever exist. By the way, the American colonists attempted a form of extreme Communism in Jamestown and Plymouth. They have the malnourished, dead bodies to prove it (Boaz, 2007). 

So, what should we aim for? In the words of Mark Thornton, “A well developed libertarian society tends to have a large middle class, a small lower class, and a revolving upper class. The low-income class is small because there are no legal barriers to opening new businesses, there are incentives to earn and save and be entrepreneurial. The upper class is ‘revolving’ because there are no monopoly privileges or bailouts to maintain wealth” (2015).

Sanders and his devotees pray for big government to save the day with more taxes and regulations, but have they ever asked if, perhaps, big government is the problem? They could at least entertain the possibility that government is a substantial part of the problem. After all, regulations often contribute to economic disparity. 

For example, when the 1972 democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern, was a senator, he voted to pass strict regulations on hotels. He sought to protect consumers from evil, greedy businesses. However, he learned a hard lesson when he acquired the leasehold on Connecticut’s Stratford Inn. The safety regulations that he helped pass put his small inn out of business. McGovern came to realize that regulations can be destructive. According to McGovern, “In short, ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules for business ignore the reality of the marketplace. And setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels -- e.g., 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales -- takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics” (2012). In other words, such regulations protect bigger hotels because smaller hotels cannot afford to pay for the safety regulations. Larger hotels have the economy of scales advantage, so they do not mind paying a little extra to prevent new competitors from rising up. So, when the left passes strict regulations on the private sector, those regulations can serve as a boon to bigger businesses. And this contributes to economic disparity.

Sanders employs good rhetoric, but I find it largely unconvincing. Washington once referred the government as fire. Let’s not throw gas on it. Maybe we can remedy out of control inequality by reducing government intervention. Maybe we should start there instead.

3.	He will raise minimum wage!

If I had hair to pull out, I would. I am so sick of this bogus argument! Listen snowflakes, take Econ 101. Let’s go back to the basics, shall we?

What if Burger King raised their minimum wage from $8.00 to $16.00. What would happen? Well, even if they phased this in over the course of a few years, we know that Burger King would have to recalibrate their system to accommodate the new wage unless the entire fast food sector of the economy grew at the exact same rate. They would either cut hours, cut jobs, or raise prices (and, consequently, reduce revenue). So less jobs/hours would be available. But, at the same time, more people would seek employment at Burger King. Many of these people would otherwise not work. For example, a stay at home wife or husband might seek to earn a few extra bucks at Burger King now that it appears to be worth it. So, now there are fewer jobs and more workers seeking those jobs. Ironically, the minimum wage, which is supposed to level the playing field, contributes to greater economic disparity.

Do you see the problem yet? A higher minimum wage results in a greater deadweight loss. And Sanders wants to establish a $15.00 Federal minimum wage (https://berniesanders.com/issues/a-living-wage/)! He refers to this as a “living wage.” That is nebulous. What do you mean by a living wage? I fail to see how he can define a living wage. But that is a topic for a different publication. 

In the end, I find Sanders’s arguments unconvincing and counterproductive. I agree with Friedrich Nietzsche’s criticism of Socialism. He refers to “the childish lamblike happiness of their hopes and desires” (1924). I see that in Sanders and his followers. Sure, it sounds nice to promise free everything. And that might work in a place like Narnia. But we live in the real world. Here is my challenge to Sanders’s supporters: read a good world history book and a good book on basic economics. 



Works Cited

Boaz, D. (2007). Private Property Saved Jamestown, And With It, America. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/private-property-saved-jamestown-it-america. Note: Yes, I understand that CATO is a Libertarian think tank. However, they tell the historical story remarkably well.

McGovern, G. (2012, October 21). George McGovern in the Journal. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203406404578070543545022704

Nietzsche, F. W. (1924). The will to power: An attempted transvaluation of all values (A. M. Ludovici, Trans.). New York: Macmillan.

Thornton, M. (2015, June 16). What They’re Not Telling You About Economic Inequality. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.infowars.com/what-theyre-not-telling-you-about-economic-inequality/ 

 

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Charde' Ridgeway commented:
Alot of information but good
Amia Jorge commented:
Well written
Amia Jorge commented:
Well written
Geoffrey Brewer commented:
Much well informed wisdom here. In other words, I agree!

 

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