Free College! Guaranteed Basic Income! Medicare for All! Cancel Student Debt!
These are the attention grabbers being used by various candidates for the Democratic nomination to run for the office of President of the United States. It is not easy to get noticed in a crowded field, so the temptation to offer free stuff is stronger than ever. But until there is a serious discussion about how to pay for these programs, they are nothing more than a politician’s empty promises.
Senator Bernie Sanders, at least, is a true believer. He has consistently advocated for a greatly expanded welfare state during his entire, very long, political career. He has been in politics long enough to see the exhausted collapse of failed socialist economies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Bernie has seen the economic (and societal) rejuvenation of Britain, Brazil, Chile, China, India and Sweden when they changed from disastrous socialist policies and liberalized their economies with policies that encouraged economic freedom. More recently, Bernie has seen socialism rise to power in Venezuela and, once again, bring misery to the people.
Yet, despite a century of demonstrated failure, Bernie is still a believer in socialism. His vision is to remake America into a “democratic socialist” economy. Don’t compare his dream to Venezuela. He wants to make America into Sweden or Denmark, successful democratic countries with extensive social welfare programs. (Both countries have a high degree of economic freedom, which accounts for their success.) Bernie knows this requires very high taxes, but he is not ready to tell the people just how high the tax burden will be. But he is more honest than others, who seem to promise “no new taxes, except on the rich who need to pay their fair share”. Wealth taxes, death taxes, taxes on corporations, taxes on anything except the voter. It’s “cheap grace” socialism.
There are many reasons for the deadly failures of socialism, harming billions of people over the last century. But let’s focus on the tiny exceptions where welfare state policies, not socialism per se, have the support of millions of people and where the country has not been driven into ruin. Human nature will always “game” the system. It takes strong social cohesion for a welfare state to not disintegrate into ruin. The evidence of the last century shows that police power alone cannot prevent economic and social ruin of a country under a socialist system.
The strongest argument, in my opinion, for expanding the welfare state with a basic guaranteed income, or guaranteed government provided health insurance is that such welfare programs might help to unify society. The productivity of free people in a free economy could be shared with our less fortunate neighbors. But here’s the deal as I see it. It only has a chance to work if we share the burden equally. If we all sacrifice a truly fair share, that is, a mostly equal share, then perhaps such welfare programs might serve to strengthen the social ties that bind us together. On the other hand, if welfare programs are pitched to voters as “soak-the-rich”, to make the rich pay their “fair” share, then the welfare state will divide society into “makers” and “takers”. It will accelerate divisions already obvious in society today. Exorbitant tax rates will drive out the makers who have the chance to get out. The economy and society will go into long term decline.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Gordon Boronow