Why Do Americans Get Democratic Socialism So Wrong?

Bernie Sanders
Democratic Socialism has nothing to do with communism. The United States began as a socialistic nation when the first Congress passed legislation to nationalize all state debts.

Mention Bernie Sanders in a room full of people someone will probably say “oh yeah!  The Socialist.”  They say this with dread, dismay, a little fear, and a lot of disgust.  I don’t understand where these feelings came from because Sanders’ political ideas are very well documented on the Internet.

Classic Socialism was described as putting all production under government control but Bernie Sanders does not want everyone to work for the US government.  He is not trying to nationalize our industries or turn our economy into a communist system.  A Democratic Socialist supports free market economies as much as any Libertarian.  All the Democratic Socialist wants to do is level the playing field for everyone.

Economists have been telling us for years that the US economy did very well during the 1950s when our highest tax rate was at 90%.  That is an indisputable fact.  But Republicans and Libertarians are pushing back against raising taxes on the wealthy with all sorts of excuses and bad math.

Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have been arguing that the government should raise taxes on the very wealthiest American.  Buffett also wants to lower taxes on low-income and middle-income Americans, too.  It’s not like our wealthiest citizens are unwilling to pay for some government services.

Unfortunately conservatives keep demanding “less government” but they don’t explain how we’re supposed to maintain our roads, schools, defense, and retirement benefits with “less government”.  What does “less government” mean if not fewer development projects, less defense, and reduced benefits for the elderly?

Naturally the conservatives want to eliminate welfare programs, which they view as contributing to crime and unemployment.  But research shows exactly the opposite is true.  The social effects of removing children from welfare programs is bad, but the economic and health benefits of extending welfare to children is good.  Kids whose families are on welfare have a much better chance of being healthy, staying healthy, and earning more money as adults.

One side effect of eliminating cash from welfare disbursements and replacing them with debit cards has been a significant reduction in crime, especially violent crime.  It was not the welfare programs that led to increased crime rates but the easy access to cash for street criminals.  When the welfare system began using electronic debits street crime associated with welfare beneficiaries declined in vary radical percentages.

The overall benefits to society of helping the poorest of families are undeniable.  By improving the health of the poorest children we ensure that they require less health care.  By helping them earn more money later in life we ensure that they pay more taxes back into the system.  So this is a win-win strategy for the most conservative of people.

The conservatives of course disclaim their concerns by complaining about “government waste”, and there is surely a lot of waste in government.  And yet no one is really able to show that the private sector is any less wasteful.  After all, waste occurs from human activity, not from government activity.

We do want to eliminate waste, but why not strive to eliminate all waste, including private sector waste, which is much more egregious than government waste?  What are the conservatives doing to end food waste, which sees about 1/3 of all the food produced every year thrown in the garbage?  There is no way the US government is wasting 1-in-3 dollars spent unless you count the Federal deficit, which grows more under Republicans than under Democrats.

Bernie Sanders wants to improve government services for all citizens.  He wants to make education available to everyone.  He also wants to reduce our unemployment.  When it comes to helping people who are unemployed, Republicans almost always stand in the way.  Republicans tell people to get off welfare and go get jobs but they do a terrible job of creating and keeping jobs in this country.

Look at the Export-Import Bank, which enables our largest manufacturers to procure insurance for overseas contracts.  Republicans in Congress shut down the bank even though it makes a profit that is paid into the Treasury (thus reducing the deficit).  And employers say they will have to lay off employees because they cannot get the guarantees they need to sell products in other countries.  Not all Republicans are this stupid; it’s just the Tea Party Republicans who cannot do the math.

Government waste is really not the problem.  The problem is bad leadership coming from the conservative side of the aisle.  They don’t know what they are doing.

Bernie Sanders makes a lot of great points but not because he is revolutionary.  He makes a lot of good points because he is willing to stand up and speak for all the other people who have been quietly disagreeing with our ineffective conservative leaders.