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Bernie Sanders is Right About One Thing. Maybe Two.

Bernie Sanders is very good at pointing out problems. A few of his favorites are imaginary, but most are real, and all of them have been created by big government. Bernie has a way of expressing them in a way that appeals to our inherent class envy.

Bernie’s solutions will make things far worse. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of our lives.

Alternet, that bastion of fine journalism, has published a list of Bernie’s political solutions to our problems. I thought they would be fun to go over while waiting for PetSmart to deliver my orders for barrels and fish.

1. Time for big thinking and new ideas.

Isn’t it always time for big thinking and new ideas?

One new idea would be to avoid this cliché, which has been spewed by every politician, in various forms, since there have been politicians.

His bold new idea: Socialism. Wait, didn’t that, and its kissing cousin communism, kill over a hundred million people in the last century? Oh, never mind, Bernie is the *good* kind of socialist. Not the bad kind. Nuh uh. Not him.

2. America’s problems are worse than ever.

Overall, things are better than they’ve been for all of human history. Nearly everything that’s worse has been made worse by government.

3. Economic inequality is the top issue.

The actual problem is a moribund economy, not income inequality, but let’s accept his claim for the sake of argument. Why is there such income inequality? Would it be as widespread if citizens were free to start any business without having to deal with the huge, often insurmountable, government-imposed barriers to entry that makes it impossible for the new guy to even try competing with the established guys?

Bernie’s wants to reduce the inequality by tearing down the rich. It has never occurred to him it would be better to allow the poor and middle class to build themselves up.

4. The middle class is being destroyed.

Yes, it is. See #3.

5. Poverty is worse than is acknowledged.

People paying attention (i.e. not trusting the numbers put out by Bernie’s government) have a pretty good idea of how bad it is. Many of us are desperately trying to cling to the middle class rung of the ladder without slipping into poverty. We can feel it nipping at our heels, and it’s terrifying. We need Big Brother out of the damn way so we can get back to climbing. Or even just keep hanging on.

6. The country needs a real jobs program.

We sure do, but creating more government drones is the worst possible solution.  The only job program that has been proven to work is to get the government out of the damn way and let people create jobs. For a real life example, look up what happened in New Mexico when Gary Johnson was Governor.

7. Raise the minimum wage and fight for living wages.

The primary effect will be to dramatically increase unemployment, mostly among the poor. Good plan.

8. Close the pay equity gap for women.

The oft spouted 72-cents-on-the-dollar claim has been debunked so many times, so thoroughly and so often, that the credibly rating of anyone repeating it is immediately lowered to “homeopath.”

9. Provide basic government health care for all.

Yeah, how’s that working out? I just got a letter saying my premiums were going up 20%.

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” – P.J O’Rourke.

10. Expand Social Security and other safety nets.

We need safety nets, but the government is the worst, most inefficient way to provide them.

The Social Security piggybank is empty. There’s nothing in it but T-Bills, IOUs the government wrote to itself while they squandered the actual money. It’s not a fund; it’s an accounting trick.

If we had been allowed to invest the money we’ve been forced to pay into SS, we’d all be retiring as millionaires.  Literally. It’s a math thing. Bernie isn’t good at math. Math is hard.

Food stamps should be left alone, for now. They are one of the few programs that actually helps people, and the cost is trivial compared to most other government programs. I’m far less concerned about someone spending food stamps to buy a $15 steak than I am about the military buying a boxcar full of $600 hammers.

The best solution, one that doesn’t even occur to people like Bernie, is to make safety nets far less necessary. And the way to do that is, once again, to make it easy for people to start businesses.

“Well, Bob, your neighbor Joe was going to start a business, and if he had, he would have hired you. But he looked at the cost of government compliance – rules, regulations, licenses, fees, taxes and restrictions – and decided not to start it. So here, have some food stamps.”

11. College and universities must be free.

If you think education is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.

As usual, he ignores the real problem: government is almost entirely responsible for the huge cost increases in education. By making virtually unlimited loans available, they’ve allowed colleges to raise their prices by 5% over inflation for the past twenty years, while saddling people with a lifetime of debt for an often worthless education.

There’s also the issue of accreditation, which presents an impossible barrier to entry for new institutions. This keeps the supply low as the demand increases, and a first year econ student knows what that means.

When I become president, I’ll limit guaranteed student loans to $5k/year, $20k/lifetime. That’s not enough to cover tuition anywhere, so parents and kids will have to spend their own money now, instead of in the future, which will make them more careful about buying education. Schools will have to stop gouging if they want to stay full.

12. The rich must pay fair taxes.

The top 20% of earners pay 92% of all income taxes collected. The bottom 20% receive enough benefits that their effective tax rate is -15%. What he’s yammering about is already in place.

He’s advocating for a 90% top tax rate, which is proof he’s clinically insane.

13. Break up the largest financial institutions.

I actually agree with him on this one. If an institution is too big to fail, it’s too big. Failure is a very important part of real capitalism. The threat of it changes a corporation’s behavior. (Or it doesn’t, and they fail.) The government has established the precedent of repeatedly rescuing them from their failures with taxpayer dollars, which allows them to continue ruinous behavior without fear.

14 No more bad trade agreements.

I agree with the statement, but his errors about what qualifies as bad would require too much discussion for this already too-long article.

15. Move away from carbon based energy.

Being done. Mostly by private industries, who can see the huge profit potential in success. For those who think the government is the best way to find solutions, please join me in this meditative chant: “Solyndra, Solyndra, Soooolynnnnndra.”

16. Climate change must be addressed.

His ilk doesn’t just want it addressed. They want it obsessed about, venerated, worshiped, and used as an excuse to force all of us to change our lifestyles. Except for Al Gore. All still gets to fly between his mansions in his private jet because, hey, he’s Al Gore.

Renewable energy isn’t completely viable yet, but it’s getting there. Generating it is getting cheaper and more efficient. Even more important, battery technology is rapidly improving. They’ll both reach a point, probably in the next ten to fifteen years, where renewable energy becomes the cheapest form of power. When that happens, people will switch to it rather quickly. The biggest obstacle is, of course, Big Brother himself, who continues to get in the way at every step of the process.

17. The US must not fight endless wars.

I completely agree on him on this one issue. When I become president, I’ll cut the military in half, and have them prepare to be cut in half again. This will still leave us with the biggest military in the world, entirely capable of defending our borders.

But it will also make it impossible for us to march into the middle of every squabble and fight between (or within) other countries. We’ll have to sit back and let them work it out for themselves. *Maybe* we’ll supply weapons to the side we like, but even that needs to be very limited.

I will halt all R&D and investment in the F-35, and demand that the A-10 Warthog remain in production. (It’s a hellava plane that’s extremely useful in any battle, and will be indispensable if we’re ever invaded by Canada or Mexico.)

There, I’ve just cut the federal budget by a half trillion dollars a year.

18. Americans can’t afford to be apathetic.

Isn’t it nice that Bernie is telling us which emotions and attitudes are proper.

In a free country, the people could be apathetic about government because it wouldn’t be bothering them, and was no big deal.

In America, people become apathetic for a different reason: we’ve realized the system is horribly stacked against us and designed so any real change is nearly impossible. And who is it stacked by? Come on, let’s not always see the same hands.

19. Democracy reform starts with the plutocrats.

The best way to limit plutocratic influence in government is to have far less government to influence. Without the plethora of rules and regulations that stifle new business, corporations would have to actually address competition, instead of rent-seeking. We’d all benefit greatly from that.

Big business and the wealthy control the government via laws and regulations they’ve helped enact for their own best interest (and no one else’s.) His solution is…more laws and regulations. It’s like concluding that since lemon juice isn’t curing your yeast infection, you obviously need to apply more lemon juice. This is, or should be, known as The Krugman Fallacy.

20. The Supreme Court must be changed.

Um…Bernie…you know that happens as part of the process, don’t you? Slowly, very slowly, but it happens.

Unfortunately we have to conclude, based on most of their decisions, that the qualifications for the job don’t include having read the constitution, or even skimmed it.

When I become president, I’ll nominate Judge Andrew Napolitano to the Supreme Court, then hire a company to clone eight more of him to fill the rest of the positions.

* * *

Our current presidential candidates are interchangeable talking heads who are indistinguishable from each other. You could pull the head off any Republican (mmmmm…oops, sorry, just getting distracted by that appealing image) and glue it to any other Republican’s shoulders without anyone noticing. (You would, of course, use Crazy Glue) Rip off Hillary’s head (mmmmm….oh, sorry, again) and plunk it on Warren’s shoulders and the only difference would be the depth of corruption.

Bernie stands out in this morass as something different. He’s an entertaining little Muppet, spewing out spew that’s different from his competition’s spew. (He should do it while making little toy laser sounds: sPew sPew sPew.)

But in the end, his solutions are essentially the same as any politician’s – more More MORE government. Bigger and badder but somehow, magically, this time, better. Because this time, it will work. Really. Trust him.

And a frightening number of people are buying it.

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