Tuesday, May 14, 2019


I got into a discussion about Bernie Sanders with a dear friend of mine. He thought I should look more closely at Sanders' positions. I went to Bernie's web site, did several other searches, and finally did one on democratic socialism. 

What follows below is what I said in an email back to my friend (I did edit it a bit more here). 

Letter starts here....

Sanders definitely says he does not want Leninism but he also calls capitalism a lot of bad names.

Then he says the following.

“Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy” 

That sounds nice but it has the following problems when not followed by more specifics…

First, it is plain wrong. It implies that the current system works only for the very wealthy. That is plain silly. The current system has plenty of problems as it relates to income distribution and poverty – but capitalism has been good for a lot of people for a long time. Fix it yes. Say it is all for the wealthy is silly.

Second, note that the statement says nothing about what the new system would look like or its philosophical principles. What guides this democratic socialism a la Sanders?

Third, reading his other materials one can infer that the new system will tackle every social problem we know and offers a government solution. He is very clear about all the ways government will tell companies what to do – and what rich people can do with their wealth and income. He is not very clear about how far the government can or should go with respect to the balance between private markets and government. Is there a rule or principle guiding this balance? 

Fourth, while he lists all those helpful programs he offers nothing that I can see as to how we get from point A to point B. It’s like a religious plea for salvation but never once offering a realistic guide as to the negative externalities that get generated when you try to change all that stuff. Besides transferring income and wealth what can really be done to seriously improve the lives of families? Do we really know how to solve all these problems? Any of these problems?

Fifth there is no reassuring analysis about how one actually creates a more equal society when we know that government can be as corrupt as the private sector. Will we really help all those people when rich people are not exactly going to sit around and thank Bernie for redistributing their incomes?

One more point. Saying all this about Bernie does not mean that there are not any ways to make changes that improve people’s lives. Maybe Bernie is the opening bid? Maybe Bernie will help us find a better middle ground? 

In that case, let him dream all he wants but we would hope the government and the people will see that marginal change is both necessary and possible. We would hope that people can separate the dreams from the realities.

That’s all I've got for the time being. Thanks for telling me more about Bernie. I plan to spend some time in the next year trying to figure out who might be a decent leader for our country.

letter ends here.....

The above is what I sent to my friend. I look forward to more conversations in the future. 


  1. Not much room for more. The process, if agreed to by Congress, would take years and the transition horrible. We already have many socialist programs that need some tweaking. Basically, if one works for or earns their income and invest it prudently they will have sufficient savings based on the value to the whole for what they do...if legal. Why change that?

    1. Sinple answer -- some people think life is unfair and they want to see the odds evened. We have a history of that and life goes on. The challenge is to know how much of that one can do and not throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. Its a sensitive balance...

  2. I think that Bernie, to one of your points, offers a way to think more broadly about the needs of a society that is in a state of transition largely due to rapid shifts in technology and the attendant failure of people to move their skill levels in lock step with the changes. Probably not a new phenomenon, just exaggerated due to speed of today's brand of change. His value is limited to being another voice echoing some truths about a segment of society that is in fact being left behind. The popular current mantra around "electability" counts him out.

    1. He seems to have become a symbol of all that as opposed to a winning candidate. But I guess we will see. I just wish we could move from a position of caring to one of caring plus thinking. It is nice to want to be for helping the less fortunate. It is another thing to actually know how to accomplish that.

    2. Dear LSD. It’s not just Crazy Bernie. He and his ilk are the personification of a tectonic shift in the values that made ‘merica great. He/they are buttressed by a gradual movement in edukation/K-kollege to promote equality, guaranteed outcomes, disrespect for authority, govomit solutions vs. individuals, and a biased revision of history over read’n, writ’n, ‘n rithmatic and a media sympathetic to and supportive of that movement. The only defense against that movement is at least 270 red votes in the Electoral College in ’20—but given the momentum of the movement 270+ in ‘20 might be the equivalent of the Maginot Line.

      The loss of the Electoral College to the Ds in ’20 will act like a lightning bolt transforming the personification on the laboratory table into a sentient monster—a walk’n talk’n wreck’n ball with traditional ‘merican values in its path. Hello comrade.

      You wish for caring plus thinking (I assume you’d agwee to specify ‘critical’ thinking) but though the Bernies do think I doubt their thoughts are in accord with what you critically wish. Man the Maginot Line in ’20 ‘n pull the red lever.

    3. I figured you would want to jump into these sharp-infested waters, Tuna. My point about Bernie is that Ds might be able to identify a problem, they are a long way from explaining how they will solve it. Transferring money from a rich man's pocket to a poor man's does not in itself solve any real problem. If the Ds want my vote I'd like them to explain why their policies are going to work or at least work better than the status quo. "Trust me" is not a sufficient answer.

    4. Dear LSD. I can’t, for the life of my gills, ever imagine the Ds could ‘plain in any way a solution that would convince you to pull their lever. That’d be like me swimm’n backwards ‘cause some goofy fish said, “Trust me, you can do it and you won’t feel a thing.”

    5. Don't tunas know how to parallel park? Anyway given that the Rs cannot explicate anything these days, I am willing to give a D or anyone else the opportunity to dig into any of our problems. Silence all the haters on both sides. Let someone please stand up with some simple problem-solving logic.