This was originally posted at International Liberty.
It’s not often that I disagree with the folks who put together the Wall Street Journal editorial page. For instance, they just published a great editorial on that cesspool of cronyism and corruption that is otherwise known as the Export-Import Bank.
Isn’t it great that the voice of capitalism actually supports genuine free markets!
That being said, a recent editorial rubs me the wrong way.
It’s about the presumably quixotic presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. These excerpts will give you a flavor of what the WSJ wrote.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed independent Socialist, has decided to run for the Democratic presidential nomination… He thinks the American economy is fundamentally unfair, and that government must tax and spend even more heavily… He thinks Social Security should increase benefits, no matter that it is heading toward insolvency. Higher taxes can make up the difference. …He wants single-payer health care, though his own state gave up the experiment as too expensive.
So what’s my disagreement?
I realize I’m being a nit-picker, but I don’t like the fact that the WSJ editorial is entitled “An Honest Socialist.”
My gripe is that Sanders isn’t honest. A genuine socialist believes in government ownership of the means of production. In other words, nationalized factories, government-run businesses, and collective farms. If Sanders believes in these policies, he’s remarkably reluctant to share his perspective.
In other words, lots of redistribution and lots of back-door government control of the private sector, but not a lot of People’s Factory #58 or People’s Farm #91.
Though it is true that Sanders wants the government to directly run the healthcare system (akin to the horrifying U.K. approach), but at most that means he’s a “partial socialist” (or, to modify the WSJ‘s title, a “mostly dishonest socialist”).
Moreover, he doesn’t bring anything new to the presidential race, at least from a policy perspective.
There’s only a trivially small difference, for instance, between Hillary Clinton’s lifetime rating of 10.6 from the National Taxpayers Union and Bernie Sanders’ lifetime rating of 9.4. They both earned their failing grades by spending other people’s money with reckless abandon.
Though it’s worth noting that both Clinton and Sanders are “more frugal” than Barack Obama, who earned a lifetime rating of 9.0. I guess this is why the phrase “damning with faint praise” was invented.
The only difference between Hillary, Obama, and Sanders is tone. Here’s some of what Charles Cooke wrote for National Review.
Sanders does not play games with words…he steadfastly refuses to pretend that he represents moderation. …Sanders is to public policy and professional politicking what Joe Biden is to personality. He is open, blunt, unapologetic, compelling, ready to debate.
Which is in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton’s pabulum.
…the Democratic primary is being dominated by a corrupt, controlling, soulless, cynical, entitled, and mostly synthetic avatar named Hillary Clinton, and, in consequence, it is almost entirely devoid of ideas. …Hillary and her team stick to meaningless and saccharine banalities, almost all of which, one presumes, have been poll-tested within a fraction of an inch. …At no time does she stake out a vision. At no time does she adopt a controversial or momentous position. Instead, she hides behind corporately assembled strings of mawkish, semi-literate tosh.
So the difference between Clinton and Sanders is that he’s proud of his statism and she wants to hide her radical agenda.
But it doesn’t matter what they say or what they call themselves, the bottom line is that their policies are destructive, both economically and morally.
P.S. Since Senator Sanders is from Vermont, it’s both amusing and ironic that the Green Mountain State’s government-run healthcare system self destructed.
P.P.P.S. Heck, Jesus may have been a libertarian.
P.P.P.P.P.S. Switching to another topic (and one where there’s zero humor), you may remember that I wrote a few days ago about the horror of so-called civil asset forfeiture.
This happens when the government arbitrarily seizes your money and/or property without convicting you of a crime. Or even without charging you with a crime.
Well, here’s a video from the Institute for Justice about a new tragic example of theft by government.