Seven Reasons Why I’m Not “Feeling the Bern”
(Author’s Note: I drew the Bernie caricature. Hire me to draw your favorite celeb or family member!)
Scrolling through my Facebook feed in the last couple weeks, I noticed a disturbing development. A lot of my friends are Bernie Sanders supporters. (“Feel the Bern” is their hashtag.) Worse, they’re pretty zealous about it. Even worse, to many of them, if you disagree, it obviously means you support the 1% and hate the poor. Nevermind that a lot of these same people are the ones who shouted down any Obama detractors in 2008. Obama’s been a fairly horrible president, as I predicted he would be in 2008 due to his lack of any business experience and his fantasy worldview. His administration has been marked by scandals, increased surveillance, and escalation of the wars in the Middle East. He kills children with drones and has famously done nothing to curb the flow of big business money into the political system. Why would he? Wall Street is why he’s the president. My family and my business are still picking up the pieces after the Obamacare debacle that was forced on us, and I expect that we’ll never fully recover. But I’m sure THIS time, the progressives are right.
Since there’s another Democratic debate tomorrow night, I’d like to discuss my position on Bernie Sanders. I admit that there are a few things I admire about Mr. Sanders, and even a few issues with which I agree with him. I admire his work towards racial equality, despite what the “black lives matter” social justice warriors who have interrupted his rallies would have you believe. Mr. Sanders has been a champion of civil rights for racial minorities for a very long time. I’ve embedded the unedited video from his Seattle rally, here.
I agree with him that the bank bailouts (that continued under his admitted friend, Barack Obama) were socialism for the rich. I also can appreciate his frustration directed at the widening gap between the rich and poor in this country. (Though I strongly disagree with his plan on what to do about it.) I agree with his anti-war rhetoric, and unlike Hillary Clinton, Sanders was opposed to the War on Terror. I also can admire the enthusiasm he’s able to bring out of his supporters. Of course, I’d rather he’d channel all the good will and support towards a better cause than increasing state power and control.
Despite what’s admirable about Bernie Sanders, there’s a lot that needs to be dismissed and dismantled. When people ask me if I support Bernie Sanders for president, my answer is, “No, I’m an adult; I don’t believe in Santa Claus.” Condescending? You bet. However, modern progressivism requires you to subscribe to a sixth-grade social studies understanding of how the US government operates. Other commenters have dismantled Bernie’s specific positions in great detail, so that’s not what I’m going to do here. Instead, I’m going to paint with broad strokes and explain why a couple of Bernie’s positions are wrong based on inconvenient truths about the how the US government operates. If we’re going to fix the myriad of social problems the Democrats and Republicans have created and/or exacerbated for us, we must deal with reality as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
Here we go!
1. The government has no money. Sanders is proposing the largest increase in government spending of any government in world history. Here’s the problem: The government has no money of its own. It has only three “legitimate” ways to raise capital: Taxation, borrowing, and inflation. If a private individual were to raise money the same ways, it would be called theft, fraud, and counterfeiting, respectively. If you want the government to pay for something, what you’re really asking is for politicians to steal money from your fellow man, take out loans in their name against their will, and/or devalue their currency. Bernie talks about moral positions quite often. So, Bernie, what exactly do you find morally correct about the manner in which government raises revenue? “No, we’re just going to take it from the rich.” Why is hating the rich an okay position to hold? Can you not see the difference between someone who got rich by working hard and providing valuable service and someone who got rich by gaming the political system? (Someone like, oh I don’t know… Bernie Sanders?) Furthermore, what makes you think the rich are going to just let you take their money? They probably got rich by being pretty smart, and people don’t like paying taxes.
2. You cannot separate money and politics. Sanders correctly identifies and laments the fact that the candidate who spends the most money typically wins. He’s been able to get a lot of grassroots money from lower or middle class individuals, but if he wants to win he’s gotta tap into some of that corporate money and corporate support. You cannot get money out of politics. Staffers are paid a salary. Ads cost money. Travel costs money. Designers cost money. Websites cost money. In short, political campaigns cost money. To “correct” this problem, Sanders has proposed using public money for elections. At first glance, problem solved, right? No. Hell, no. Passing laws doesn’t change behavior across the board. If it did, we wouldn’t have a court system to punish lawbreakers. Furthermore, who would decide which candidates get the money and which are sent home empty-handed? “Legalized bribery” Mr. Sanders? Your proposal sounds ripe for massive abuse. Most importantly, is it morally correct to force people to fund candidates that they do not support? Would your supporters be happy that their tax money is going to support Donald Trump? By the way, the purpose of politics is to take money from people who earned it and give it to the politically connected (as repayment for political support) and/or useful idiots (to shut them up and distract them from the raw deal they’re getting).
3. Corporations don’t pay taxes. Sanders, like any typical progressive, shouts about corporations paying their “fair share.” (You really can make a drinking game out of it any time there’s a Democratic Party debate. Like tomorrow night!) This talking point is not about reality, but feeding into people’s envy and warping their sense of fairness. Corporations don’t pay taxes, though. Only people do. A “corporation” is simply a legal entity created by a business. That business is operated by human beings who have a profit motive. If you raise the taxes on a corporation, they will simply factor it into the cost of doing business. Either the increase will be transferred to the consumer, or the people who work for the company will not receive raises or perks. The stockholders may be punished. Most people who own stocks are not “the greedy 1%;” they are your friends and family who have stocks as part of their retirement portfolio. Should they be robbed of their dividends and their right to plan their own retirements so Uncle Sam can piss away more money on fruitless wars and failing social programs?
4. “Free” is a Myth. Sanders gets wild applause any time he talks about his plans to give Americans “free healthcare” and “free education.” Here’s the rub: There is no such thing as “free” anything. When the government or a business tells you something is free, it’s an intelligence test. If you believe them, you either are so greedy that you are willing to suspend your critical thinking, or your thinking is not sophisticated enough to understand how basic economic transactions and/or sales pitches work. Everything produced by humans takes, at the minimum, someone’s labor. It may be “free” for you if you do not pay for it, but someone else did. If they’re giving it to you for free, they want something in return. Further, the costs of healthcare and education have risen dramatically precisely because of government intervention, not in spite of it. When you subsidize something, you create an artificial demand, and prices rise accordingly. Look at the housing bubble and subsequent crash for a recent example.
5. The Math Doesn’t Work. Sanders’ plan doesn’t add up. Literally. Sanders’ plan has a (conservative) price tag of $18 Trillion. This is in addition to the US government’s current spending. (I say “conservative” because government programs always cost more than the projected price tag.) He proposes to fund his new entitlements by cutting the military and taxing “the 1%.” It won’t work, and here’s the (simple) math to prove it: Military spending for 2014 was $610 billion. Cut it by 100% and over ten years the US government will have $6.1 Trillion for Bernie’s plan. We’re still $12 Trillion short. Here’s where the 1% comes in; just take their money! If you take every dollar from everyone earning $1 Million or more per year, that’s another $600 billion per year. In ten years, that’s another $6 Trillion. You’re still $6 Trillion short.
6. He’s Soft on Political Criminals. Many have called Sanders the “Ron Paul of the Left.” There are certain similarities, like the devoted fanbase and grassroots funding. However, one major difference was revealed during the last Democratic debate. Dr. Paul, for all his faults, didn’t publicly tolerate corruption/abuse of power in his own party. He butted heads with Giuliani, McCain, and President Bush on more than one occasion. That’s a moral stance, but admittedly a bad political move. Sanders seems to be a better politician, which in this case is NOT a compliment. During the last debate, a question of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi scandal came up. Sander’s reply was that he and many Americans are “sick of hearing about her damn emails.” Excuse me, Mr. Sanders, but if Clinton, in her capacity as Secretary of State, facilitated the sale of weapons to a terrorist organization and then covered it up, that’s a major crime, not something to be brushed off. The public has a right to know what a presidential candidate has done with his/her power in the past in order to judge whether or not they want that person to be given new powers. I’m not saying Clinton is guilty, I don’t know that. But if there’s enough evidence to warrant an investigation, let’s let it play out, not just dismiss it casually.
7. Government is untrustworthy. If you don’t know this already, we have a much bigger problem and you need to read your history. This is not a Left vs. Right issue; politicians on both sides of the aisle are typically lying megalomaniacs who will do anything to achieve and keep power. Even if Bernie Sanders is an angel who is motivated by nothing but the goodness of his little red heart, he will not live forever. Eventually, someone you do not like will inherit the power that Sanders grabbed from individuals and gave to the state. Giving someone control over your life is not only stupid, it’s very dangerous. History has shown over and over and over (and over and over) again what happens when the people give up decision making in their own lives and surrender it to the whims of the state. It might be fine and dandy for a little while, but there’s no shortage of tyrants who’d love to grab and control the levers of power. Isn’t it better to starve such tyrants?
Before you call me a right-wing reactionary, or accuse me of being a shill for the Koch Brothers, please note that this post is in no way an endorsement for any Republican candidate. In fact, I have written here why you should not support the Republicans.
Sure, I wish we could all get free stuff. I wish there was enough food and clean water for everyone. I wish that education and healthcare grew on trees to be picked and distributed to all. But I’m an adult. I stopped believing in Santa Claus a long time ago. I understand the concept of scarcity, and I understand the nature of the state. Political solutions almost never work, it’s time for the human race to think outside the box.
Don’t think my list is very compelling? Here’s another. The author discusses Bernie’s positions on the NSA, the drone program, and more.
A Disclaimer About My Politics
Thanks for reading this post, I hope I challenged you in some way. Agree with me? That’s cool. Disagree? Even better. I’m just a random guy on the internet, voicing his opinion (at the time of writing this blog post; opinions change as more facts and experience are gathered). But imagine if I had the political power and will to force you to agree with me! That would be terrible, and that’s the point of voluntarism and non-aggression. You should not be forced to agree with me. Please extend me the same courtesy.
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.” -Larry Hardiman
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- The Libertarians Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- Democracy ≠ Freedom
- I Don’t “Feel the Bern.”
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- Leaders vs. Rulers
- Libertarianism is Better Than Progressivism
- Why I Do Not Vote (And Neither Should You)
- The Traffic Court Swindle
- Top Five Reasons I Don’t Argue Politics on Social Media
- Why Meaningful Debate is Impossible
- Dos and Do Nots for the Liberty Minded
- “There ought to be a law…”
- A Defense of Fugitive Slaves
- Conspiracy Theories are Dumb
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