Jim Clark: Why democratic socialism is a bad idea (opinion)
June 16, 2016
With both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the race for the White House, election year dialogue has really changed.
Bernie, famously, advocates democratic socialism in which the rich have brutal taxes levied against them that a benevolent government uses to pay for free stuff to give to the less fortunate who feel entitled to it.
Alternatively, Trump condemns policies that have throttled US manufacturing through trade deals in which domestic economic opportunities are exported to countries with lower labor costs.
He also says our porous southern border adds to the problem. Both blame a conspiracy of moneyed corporate special interests who ply powerful elected officials with cash to ensure that nobody rocks the boat.
A careful examination of Bernie's proposals shows an appeal to a very narrow range of constituents. In Switzerland, a country of 8.1 million residents, a mere hundred thousand citizens can qualify a ballot measure for a national election.
A group of writers and artists proposed a guaranteed annual income measure for all Swiss citizens, in which each adult would be paid the Swiss equivalent of $2,600 per month and each child $650. Earlier this month, Swiss voters rejected the proposal 77% to 23%.
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Following the election, the GFS.Bern Research Institute released a survey showing that the rejection was because of concerns that unconditional income would attract more foreigners to Switzerland as well as diminish the incentive to work.
Well sure. If you hang out a "free beer" sign on your tavern, your bar will be full, but your till will be empty.
Even if U.S. voters continue to reject Sanders' Marxist proposals which would turn America into Venezuela, how about the supposedly more modest policies of lame duck President Obama, upon which President Hillary would double down?
Obama really only had unfettered control of the country from January 2009 to January 2011, during which time Democrats controlled the Nancy Pelosi-led House and the Harry Reid-led Senate, the latter with a super-majority.
Their signature legislation from that era was Obamacare. After that, the GOP recaptured the House, and two years later the Senate, so Obama policies could only be implemented in watered-down form by executive order.
Democrats like to blame the country's economic malaise on the "George Bush recession," but you can only get away with that for so long. In fact, under the Obama administration, America's work force participation rate (the percentage of people age 16 or older working or looking for work) has declined from 65.7% to 62.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.
Obamacare itself is a major contributor to this because it penalizes small businesses if their full time work staff exceeds 49. This trend presents a danger to Social Security and Medicare, the funding of which are dependent on an ever increasing labor force.
A second alarming trend is a reduction in entrepreneurism. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the percentage of business owners per capita both in Nevada and nationally has declined since 2008, instead of increasing as you would expect during recovery from a recession.
The Economic Innovation Group reports that only 166,460 new businesses have been formed nationally, compared to 400,390 after the 2000 recession and 420,850 after the 1992 recession. Small businesses provide most of the nation's job growth.
I'll end on a high note. Incline/Crystal Bay's Judge Alan Tiras serves as a volunteer coach to Incline High School's nationally recognized "We the People" program. When informally discussing recent proposals to increase the minimum wage to $15, a majority of students rejected the idea. The consensus was if you could make that kind of money flipping burgers, where's the incentive to work hard and excel?
Smart kids! Right up there with the Swiss.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Nevada and Washoe County GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.