Conservative punditry have finally come out swinging against progressive phenom Bernie Sanders! The populist U.S Senator (I-VT) has surprised the nation by surging out of left field to make the 2016 Democratic primaries competitive, erasing the idea that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be able to waltz to the nomination uncontested. Now that Sanders is winning the polls in the first two primary election states, Iowa and New Hampshire, both conservatives and supporters of Hillary Clinton are beginning to jab at the self-proclaimed democratic socialist.
The goal appears to be to shock the public with the supposed “price tag” of Sanders’ proposed economic reforms and to taint Sanders’ image by insinuating that his democratic socialism is akin to the socialism of Venezuela, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. All of the attacks thus far have been laughingly inaccurate, especially The Wall Street Journal’s report on the $18 trillion “price tag” of Sanders’ goals of universal health care, fully functional Social Security, and tuition-free public higher education. Many pundits appear to be parroting the WSJ’s report without realizing that the proposals merely result in a shift of spending, not additional spending.
As for any shift or increase in spending, or the notion that Sanders is indeed a true socialist, everyone should take a look in the mirror. The vast majority of U.S. citizens support socialism. In fact, roughly 90 percent of Americans participate in socialism. Most do so willingly, and many champion it. They decorate their homes with its logos and emblems and proudly wear its clothing.
Yes, public schools are socialist. Instead of paying the market price for K-12 education, some 90 percent of U.S. parents choose to enroll their children in state-run facilities. These facilities are funded by taxpayer dollars that are taken, at progressive levels, from earners, spenders, and property owners. The vast majority of public school parents pay far less in taxes to public schools than their children receive in terms of goods and services. Most of America, therefore, directly benefits from socialism.
It educates our kids at the K-12 level, and in college. Public colleges and universities – gasp! – are also socialist constructs. Despite outrageous tuition levels, these schools are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
Ever work a 40-hour work week? Thank a socialist. Ever enjoy the fact that America has a minimum wage? Thank a socialist. Do you enjoy overtime pay? Thank a socialist. Are you glad child labor is no longer acceptable? Thank a socialist. Do you support racial and gender equality? Thank a socialist. Many of the labor and social reforms the U.S. has undergone in the twentieth century were due to socialist and pro-socialist reformers. At the time, conservatives and capitalists undoubtedly howled about government intervention in the market.
Limit the amount of time adult workers can work? An abomination! They are adults, so why not let them choose how many hours they wish to work to fulfill their wage desires?
A minimum wage? If a worker wishes to supply his or her labor for any price, why deprive them of that freedom?
Overtime pay? A worker’s labor is as good as any other worker’s labor, so why should I pay more for another hour of the same work? If the worker wishes to supply his or her labor for an additional hour, why should I be compelled to pay a higher wage than for the previous hour?
Child labor? If the child wishes to make money, why deprive him or her of that? Not everyone can be expected to become a Harvard graduate, you know! It’s not like I am forcing anyone to work – I offer a wage and they can accept or reject my offer.
Racial and gender equality? Why should I have to offer an identical wage to everyone? The workers can make their own decision as to whether or not to accept my offered wage.
Public school? Why should I give my hard-earned money to educate other people’s children? Especially when those children may be dumb, lazy, and unlikely to benefit from formal education?
Obviously, few Americans would want a return to the U.S. economy of 1900, when none of the aforementioned reforms had spread across the nation. Even the most conservative parents of today would shudder in horror at the thought of their children being subject to the whims of the laissez-faire market. Insinuating that democratic socialism and its reforms are somehow anti-American or bad for productivity is a historical falsehood. Millions of Democrats and Republicans have grown up under “socialist” reforms and been all the better for it. They have received quality education, full-time job benefits as required by law, the bonus of overtime pay, and job protections afforded by anti-discriminatory legislation.
You are free to criticize “socialism” if you like, since this is a free country. I only ask that you not be a hypocrite. Therefore, please remove your children from the public schools, give your boss the option of refusing you time-and-a-half for overtime, and meekly keep quiet when and if you are discriminated against at work. Looks like a return to laissez-faire capitalism should be just fine!