Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced the official launch of his 2020 presidential campaign on Tuesday, and within just 24 hours, he managed to raise a whopping $6 million. Although Sanders joins a crowded field of contenders, many analysts say the 77-year-old Sanders is the frontrunner to be the Democrats’ choice to challenge President Trump.
Sanders, who nearly defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, is a self-described socialist who has been peddling destructive collectivist policies for decades—everything from single-payer health care to punitive taxes and radical climate change agreements. Make no mistake about it, Sanders, who honeymooned in Soviet Russia, wants to fundamentally alter American society and impose a socialist agenda on tens of millions of Americans who want the federal government to stay out of their homes and businesses.
Sanders is undoubtedly hoping that his candidacy will benefit from the recent rise of socialism in the United States. According to a February Fox News poll, one-quarter of U.S. voters have a favorable view of socialism, and the number is even higher for millennials. Similarly, a 2018 Gallup survey found 57 percent of Democrats support socialism, while only 47 percent said they have a favorable view of capitalism.
Although the popularity of socialism has clearly increased in recent years, it’s largely because most Americans don’t understand what socialism is or its long history of failure around the world. It’s up to those of us who support individual liberty and free markets to tell our friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren the truth about the dangers of socialism. Below are five facts to help you spread the word.
1. Socialism has never worked.
One of the most damning evidences against socialism is that despite the fact numerous countries around the world have attempted to create societies in which many, most, or all industries are collectively owned and managed, those countries have never prospered.
The ultimate goal of socialism, according to Karl Marx and his followers, is to create a society in which all people share wealth equally. But whenever socialism has been attempted, it has always resulted in tyranny.
The reason for this is simple: In order for a society to collectively share wealth, a ruling class first has to be established that will take wealth away from those who have it. That necessitates giving significant power to a centralized authority, the government. Once government has this power, it’s reluctant to give it up, resulting in the sort of oppression we see today in Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela.
2. Tens of millions have died at the hands of socialist and communist parties.
Because regimes attempting to create socialist utopias inevitably turn to violence, socialism and communism have caused more death and destruction than any other political or religious ideology in the past century.
In research I conducted, relying on numerous scholarly studies, of 12 countries led by socialist or communist parties over the past 100 years—including parties in China, Cuba, North Korea, and the Soviet Union—I found there have been more than 167 million people who have been killed, murdered, or exiled in the pursuit of socialism. It would take roughly 56,000 terrorist events as deadly as the tragic attack by radical Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, to match the misery caused by socialists and communists.
3. Scandinavian countries do not have socialist economies.
For many years, American socialists have misled the public about Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Sanders and others, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., routinely refer to these nations as “socialist,” even though the evidence clearly shows they are not.
The world needs more wealth, not wealth redistribution, and history has proven repeatedly that you don’t create wealth by stealing it from some to give it to others.
For example, in the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark’s economy ranked 14th, only two spots behind the United States. And in several categories—including “business freedom,” “monetary freedom,” and “property rights—Denmark’s economy ranked much higher than America’s.
It’s true Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have some large social welfare programs and high individual tax rates, but they also have very little debt, few regulations, and require all people in society, not just the wealthy, to pay a hefty tax burden. Further, the corporate tax rates in all three of these Nordic countries is only slightly higher than the current U.S. rate of 21 percent and much lower than the American corporate tax rate prior to the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Perhaps most importantly, Scandinavians are not better off than most Americans. They pay much higher tax rates; earn, on average, lower salaries; and pay significantly more for housing and basic goods and services.
4. Taxing the wealthy won’t pay for Bernie’s socialist plans.
Socialists like Sanders say that they can pay for their massive, multi-trillion-dollar programs by raising taxes on the wealthiest earners, but research shows this claim is false.
The Tax Foundation recently studied the potential revenues that would be gained by imposing a 70 percent tax rate on income above $10 million—a proposal backed by Ocasio-Cortez—and found that it would raise, at most, $291 billion over 10 years. That’s not enough revenue to cover even 10 percent of the estimated cost of Sanders’ “Medicare for All” health care proposal, which the Mercatus Center says would require $32 trillion in its first decade.
5. We need a wealthier world, not wealth redistribution.
Socialists like Bernie Sanders focus nearly all of their time talking about redistributing wealth, but what they never tell you is that research shows that even if the world’s wealth were totally redistributed, it would result in all people being relatively poor.
According to a 2018 report by Credit Suisse, “one of the world’s leading banks,” the total wealth of all the world’s households is about $317 trillion. If we were to divide that wealth among all adults, it would only leave about $63,000 per person—and that includes the value of the person’s car, home, land, and all possessions. In other words, everyone would be poor by American standards.
It’s evident from these figures that the world needs more wealth, not wealth redistribution, and history has proven repeatedly that you don’t create wealth by stealing it from some to give it to others.
The only way to help the world’s impoverished is to enact policies that promote innovation and enhance quality of life for all people. Thanks to relatively free markets and capitalism, that’s been occurring over the past 200 years at breakneck speed. The last thing we need is a socialist like Bernie Sanders getting in the way.