Jim Clark: Bernie Sanders’ Socialist agenda — good for America? (opinion)
February 24, 2016
The song "Big Rock Candy Mountains" was written in 1895 by a vagrant named Harry McClintock to describe a hobo's Utopia.
It talks of "a land that's fair and bright, where handouts grow on bushes and you sleep warm every night." The song gained national attention in 1939 when it reached No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's country music charts. It has since faded into oblivion.
Until, that is, Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders published his Socialist agenda this year. Sanders would provide free student tuition at every university in the United States and expand Medicare to all Americans whether or not they ever paid into the system.
As our song goes: "Where the boxcars all are empty, and the sun shines every day; on the birds and the bees in the cigarette trees, the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings, in the Big Rock Candy Mountains."
Sanders also proposes free universal child care, pre-kindergarten and a mandatory 12-week, employer-paid family leave for all. Our song continues: "There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too; you can paddle around them in a big canoe, in the Big Rock Candy Mountains."
Bernie would invest $1 trillion in infrastructure and $5.6 billion in youth job programs. Last week, he told the Reno Gazette-Journal he would spend $20 billion a year to ameliorate drought, $70 billion to insure safe drinking water and protect rivers and lakes, and $60 billion to modernize dams and levees.
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"The farmers' trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay. Oh I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow, where the rain don't fall and the winds don't blow, in the Big Rock Candy Mountains."
Sanders also told the RGJ he would provide citizenship for 11 million (illegal) "aspiring Americans" living in this country, end detention and deportation, "stand up for the rights of the powerless" and extend protection to children and other vulnerable immigrants.
"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs; and the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft-boiled eggs. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the jails are made of tin, and you can walk right out again just as soon as you are in."
Bernie would raise the minimum wage from $7.15 to $15, mandate equal pay for women, and make unionization easier. Costs all told: $18 trillion. He'll pay for all this by increasing taxes on the wealthy and large corporations and breaking up big banks and brokerages.
"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks; and little streams of alcohol come trickling down the rocks. There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes saws nor picks; I'm bound to stay where you sleep all day, where they hung the jerk that invented work in the Big Rock Candy Mountains."
When someone is trying to sell Utopia, voters should consider America's earliest lesson in economics. Professor Judd Patton, Ph.D., tells us that in 1620 English Puritans wanted to colonize in America but they had no money. They made a deal with the Virginia Company of London that in exchange for the ship Mayflower and provisions, they would sequester "all profits and benefits" of the venture withdrawing only what the colonists needed to survive, and after seven years split it between the company and colonists.
In other words, a Socialist commune. As Colonial Governor Bradford wrote: "the Puritans deemed it a kind of slavery." When the harvests failed, Bradford divided up the lands so each could keep his own production.
Somehow, those who claimed weakness and inability became healthy and strong. The harvests then yielded plenty, and in 1624 the colonists bought out the Virginia Company's interests.
Professor Patton concludes: "Can Americans learn these vital insights from the Pilgrims or must we too face famine in the coming years?" Good question.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Clark is a weekly opinion columnist for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper.
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