Socialism

Accelerating on the Path to Greece with Bernie Sanders (Hey New Hampshire: This is What You Voted For)

Originally posted at International Liberty ~ Ed.

Remember when I wrote a week ago that I was somewhat optimistic about entitlement reform? Well, given what just happened in New Hampshire, I must have been smoking crack. It would now be more accurate to say something will happen with entitlements, but it will be deform rather than reform.

That’s because a Bernie Sanders nomination victory followed by a win in November might pave the way for a massive expansion of government. Much of this would be a result of a single-payer healthcare scheme (oh, and don’t forget that the Republican victor in New Hampshire also has endorsed government-run healthcare).

Now that we have to take Senator Sanders seriously, let’s investigate his agenda.

Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal is not a fan of the Vermont Senator’s statism.

His socialism is farcical in a country that can’t afford the entitlements it already has. …Mr. Sanders, far from being a radical departure, is merely a perfection of what Democrats have offered since the Clinton era, namely denial. Ignore the problem. If forced to acknowledge it, insist there’s no problem because the rich will pay. In the meantime, savage every reform proposal as an attack on “unmet needs.” Collect the political rents from serving as defender of every spending interest in our overcommitted republic. …Bernie…, for all his exotic pretenses, is just another machine Democrat.

What Elementary Bit of Wisdom Is Shared by Donald Trump and Bono?

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published at International Liberty.

If I asked you what Donald Trump and Bono have in common, the easy and accurate answer is that they both have lots of money.

But if I asked you to identify a shared perspective by the two men, at first glance that would seem to be a much harder question.

After all, it seems like a rock star and a real-estate tycoon are about as different as two people could possibly be.

Yet the answer should be obvious.

I’ll give you a big hint. You probably have the same perspective as well.

At least if you answer “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second question.

  1. Do you ever voluntarily pay extra tax?
  2. Or do you, like John Kerry or Bill and Hillary Clinton, take prudent steps to minimize the amount of your income confiscated by government?

In other words, the perspective shared by Donald Trump and Bono is one that is widely held by every sensible person. Simply stated, your income belongs in your pocket, not in the grasping hands of politicians.

It Doesn’t Seem Possible, but France Is Going from Bad to Worse

Remember when Paul Krugman warned that there was a plot against France? He asserted that critics wanted to undermine the great success of France’s social model.

I agreed with Krugman, at least in the limited sense that there is a plot against France. But I explained that the conspiracy to hurt the nation was being led by French politicians.

Simply stated, my view has been that the French political elite have been taxing the nation into stagnation and decline and there is every reason to think that the nation is heading toward a severe self-inflicted fiscal crisis.

But it turns out I may have been too optimistic. Let’s look at some updates from Krugmantopia.

We’ll start with a report from the Financial Times, which captures the nation’s sense of despair.

…if the country’s embattled socialist president was hoping for some respite from what has been a testing year, he can probably think again. … the French economy barely expanded during the second quarter of this year after stagnating in the first. …the result will make it all but impossible to achieve the government’s growth forecast for 2014 of 1 per cent… Bruno Cavalier, chief economist at Oddo & Cie, the Paris-based bank, says one reason is the huge constraint on disposable income posed by France’s tax burden, which has risen from 41 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 45.7 per cent last year – one of the highest in the eurozone.

A Single-Payer Health Care System Would Put Us in More Debt

spending

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) suggested that a single-payer system is the “cure for America’s ailing health care,” he suggested that ObamaCare was a small step in comparison to the reform he envisions. And what would this reform be, you ask.

The subsidized program that places the health care monopoly in the hands of the government.

Thomas Sowell pointed out that the reason why the single-payer system still sounds appealing to some is that people are being fooled into thinking that they are getting something for nothing. Health care at no cost for every single American, subsidized by taxpayer dollars is their goal, and the ObamaCare failure might be just the type of blessing that Congress is looking for.

But before we continue, have you ever asked yourself whether single-payer system supporters understand or even realize that subsidized health care is not free?

According to a report released by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, during 113th Congress’ first six months, some lawmakers have been much more interested in pushing for the singe-payer health care system than introducing budget cuts. All legislation introduced during the first six months in both the House and the Senate would increase spending by $1.74 trillion. Cuts introduced by Congress would only amount to $453 billion.

Gerard Depardieu Goes John Galt

Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Few Frenchmen are more recognizable at home and abroad than the movie star Gerard Depardieu. Last week, Depardieu caused a great controversy in his native land by moving to Belgium – partly to avoid the 75 percent income tax on the wealthy that was introduced by the socialist President of France, Francois Hollande. Depardieu’s move was condemned by the French political establishment, including the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who called the actor’s action “pathetic.”

Depardieu shot back and, in an open letter to Monsieur Ayrault, wrote, “I’m leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anything different should be punished. I am sending you back my passport and social security, which I have never used.” The French actor claims to have “paid 85 percent taxes on his revenues this year [2012] and estimated that he had paid €145m ($189m) in total since he started work as a printer at the age of 14.”

All Eyes on Venezuela on Sunday

Written by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday for their most important presidential election in a generation. At stake is the end of the thuggish, corrupt, and autocratic 14 year-old regime of Hugo Chávez.

The opposition, led by Governor Henrique Capriles Radonsky, has a real chance of winning the vote—if it’s fairly done. The most credible polls show a very tight race with still a number of Venezuelans undecided. However, there are good reasons to believe that most of the undecided are actually “hidden” votes for Capriles, people who are intimidated or afraid to express their support for the opposition candidate.

As I’ve written before, it won’t be a fair election. Four out of the five seats in the National Electoral Council (CNE) are loyal chavistas. The CNE has resorted to increasingly dirty tricks. The latest has been to announce that people who mark one of Capriles’ pictures in the ballot won’t actually be voting for him, but for a lesser known third candidate (see the explanation here).

The electoral registry, which is controlled by Cuban operatives, has increased its size by 58 percent since 2001, even though Venezuela’s population has risen only 18 percent during that period. Fourteen of the country’s 24 states have more registered voters than total adult population. There is even the documented case of 2,272,706 voters that appear to live at the same address.

“A Revolution to Overthrow Capitalism”

OWS goons

A few weeks ago we brought you a video from an Occupy meeting where the stated goal was to overthrow capitalism. A few commenters took issue with this, claiming it was an isolated statement and that Occupy is a loose-knit group.

I had the opportunity to be with the Occupy protesters at the RNC and the DNC over the past few weeks and I can assuredly tell you that it is not an isolated statement.  True, there are many groups represented at the demonstrations, and maybe not all of them will outright say that they want to overthrow capitalism. But when you promote a socialist economy, by definition you are advocating the overthrow of capitalism.

I covered the “March on the RNC” in Tampa and was able to have a conversation with a socialist marcher about the economy:

A few of his comments deserve special attention.

“We need to tax the wealthiest people in the country, who aren’t paying their fair share - it’s not shared sacrifice for them.”

This is a common refrain among not only the Occupy movement but among liberals in general.  Consider that the top 20 percent of earners - going way beyond the famed 1 percent - makes a little more than half the money yet pays two-thirds of the federal taxes.  And once you hit $200,000 in adjusted gross income, your tax rate nearly doubles - going from an average of 11.9 percent to 19.6 percent.

International Data on Living Standards Show that the United States Should Not Become More Like Europe

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

I’m not a big fan on international bureaucracies, particularly the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD, funded by American tax dollars, has become infamous for its support of statist pro-Obama policies.

The Games of the First Obamalympiad

This weekend heralded the Opening Ceremonies of the thirtieth Olympiad of the modern era, kicking off the world’s greatest sporting spectacle as the best athletes in the world converge to see who will lay claim to the titles conveyed in the spirit of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Higher, Faster, Stronger”). For the next two weeks, literally billions of people from all over the world will be cheering on their country’s athletes, urging them towards their ultimate goal of being draped with a gold medal. These athletes represent the finest in the world, those that have combined natural athletic talent with single-minded focus, grueling workouts, and year after year of tremendous energy expended in perfecting their craft. In the end that talent and hard work, sprinkled with a touch of luck and fate, will reveal who shall be crowned the athletic gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus.

As I watched the parade of athletes entering the Olympic stadium, my thoughts began to wander, as they often do, to the current polarization of the political climate, with one side (limited government conservatives and libertarians) who believe in minimal government interference and robust competition in a true free market), and the other side (liberal Democrats, socialists, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd) who believe in a heavy-handed government which uses force and coercion to right the perceived wrongs of the world.

In that context, I began to imagine what the Olympics would look like if our current president, whose actions could lead one to legitimately question whether he has mistaken himself for our emperor, were given complete omnipotence over the Olympic Games. So with that in mind, may I welcome you to the games of the first Obamalympiad:

Obama: Follow Me “Forward” Into the Abyss

This past week, the Obama re-election campaign revealed its latest campaign slogan, “Forward.” I suppose they had to pick something new to reinvigorate the campaign, since “Hope and Change” is no longer viable with the president having a record now on which he can be judged, a record that has all but killed hope in the heart of the American worker, and change which few would have voted for had they known just what type of change was coming.

“Forward” beat out other re-election campaign slogans that did not test well with the focus groups, such as “Obama 2012 – Hey, It Could Have Been Worse,” “Obama 2012 – My President Went On Vacation and All I Got Was This Lousy $5 TRILLION in New Debt,” or “Obama 2012 – My Dog Ate My Homework, So I Ate My Dog.” It was quite a struggle for them to come up with something that would truly capture the essence of the message they were trying to convey, and “Forward” seemed to fit the bill. Nice, clean and simple, giving the impression of something positive without the nuisance of actually getting into specifics. Without doubt, Obama wants to stay away from specifics; hence, no catchy promises of “Recovery Summer” or “Shovel Ready Jobs.”


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