Bernie Sanders, Breadlines, Chronic Shortages, First Amendment, Food Rationing, Free College Tuition, Free Markets, Gains From Trade, Living Wage, Matt Welch, Medicare, Press Crackdown, Reason.com, Sandanistas, Scandinavia, Totalitarian Regimes, Universal Pre-K
For sheer stupidity, you can’t top the remarks made in this video by Bernie Sanders, uttered as an adult, praising the fact that consumers in socialist countries must stand in line to receive food rations! Here is his distorted logic:
“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.“
I try to avoid derogation of individuals in favor of demonstrating the weakness of their words or ideas. I must admit that it’s hard to maintain both ends of that policy in Mr. Sanders’ case. He’s never availed himself of the well-known laws of economics that invalidate his primitive views. For example, he doesn’t grasp that the price system in a market economy provides incentives for conservation and for extra production when supplies are short. In Sanders’ mind, that mechanism is unacceptable because it means someone will profit. Of course, the cooperative nature of markets and voluntary exchange is lost on Sanders. Part of that cooperation is the willingness of buyers to reward able sellers, giving them the incentive to meet future demands. And they do!
Sanders doesn’t understand the universal tendency of government to waste resources. The state’s command over resources derives from coercive power, and it lacks the discipline and incentives for efficiency that are always present in markets. Sanders has not reflected on the shackles the regulatory state places on the productive, private sector. He imagines that government can be trusted because good-hearted people, like him, will always be in charge under a socialist state, and they will design the way forward. Yes, with the aid of their coercive power.
As for breadlines, Sanders has never assimilated the fact that the widespread, plentiful food supplies available in capitalist societies are unprecedented historically. Or that socialist systems have always been typified by chronic shortages of food and other consumer goods. Those are simply empirical facts, on one hand, but they are not accidents. Sanders hasn’t noticed these “details”, remaining immersed in a wild fantasy that prosperity is possible under socialism. Don’t point to Scandinavia as a counterargument, as Sanders supporters are wont to do. There, democratic socialism has wrongly been credited for prosperity that owes more to wealth created under capitalism, before those countries began to feed on themselves.
Bread lines are awful, but they aren’t the worst of it. Mr. Sanders has also praised certain tyrannical regimes, as well as the crackdown on the press under the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Here is a quote in Reason from Michael Moynihan, a former Reason editor who has uncovered a treasure trove of material on Sanders’ past pronouncements:
“When challenged on the Sandinistas’ incessant censorship, Sanders had a disturbing stock answer: Nicaragua was at war with counterrevolutionary forces, funded by the United States, and wartime occasionally necessitated undemocratic measures.“
Well, the First Amendment may be passe, and the revolution is at hand, eh?
Another Reason article by Matt Welch covers ten of “Bernie’s Bad Ideas“, most of which are grounded in an understanding of economics that can only be described as child-like: the “living” wage, free college tuition, universal pre-K education, opposition to international trade, and Medicare for all are just a few of Sanders’ nitwitted plans. I’ve written about many of these topics on Sacred Cow Chips in the past (a few of those posts are linked in the last sentence). Sanders’ supporters are seduced by the falsehood that government can reward the “deserving” justly for something, in some way, by some miracle, without destroying the incredible font of (under-appreciated) prosperity that is the market economy.
To end on a high note, as it were, here’s a fun Facebook page called “Bernie Sanders Bread Line” with some interesting takes on the lunatic ravings of the socialist candidate. All of those memes ring true, including the one at the top of this post.