There Are Many Forms of Socialism: Where Does Bernie Fit?
With Bernie Sanders gaining widespread notoriety by challenging Hillary Clinton this year for the Democratic nomination, his record as a “Democratic-Socialist” has come under examination. He’s the only self-described “socialist” in the United State Senate, which certainly bears some further exploring.
The dictionary definition of “socialism” is:
A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
However, it’s not that simple, as Oxford goes on to explain:
The term “socialism” has been used to describe positions as far apart as anarchism, Soviet state communism, and social democracy; however, it necessarily implies an opposition to the untrammeled workings of the economic market. The socialist parties that have arisen in most European countries from the late 19th century have generally tended toward social democracy
Interestingly, as noted in Oxford, Europe tends toward “social democracy,” which is defined as:
A form of socialism pursued by democratic rather than autocratic or revolutionary means, especially by respecting a democratically elected legislature as the source of political change; (also more generally) moderate or centrist socialism.
So Bernie Sanders is not advocating nationalizing of industries, such as in states such as Venezuela. And, as noted above, there are many forms of socialism. That brings us to a surprising article in the Huffington Post—“Bernie Sanders is Not the Socialist Conservatives Should be Scared of.”
Few Americans would support turning all public roads private with toll booths at every corner or being forced to write a check to the fire department before they put out a fire at their house. Polls also show that Americans are very fond of some of the most socialist policies currently at work in the U.S. such as Social Security, Medicare and the Military.
It would also seem likely that the majority of Americans support socialist programs like public parks, state snow removal, border security, sewer systems, the Hoover dam, the VA, prisons, public libraries, police, the postal service, the court system, free lunch program, and public schools.
The article calls Chapter 11 Bankruptcy a “social safety net” and goes on to complain that Donald Trump has used it four times, to protect his wealth—to the detriment of creditors and employees. It also points out that Trump has taken government handouts in the form of tax breaks, to “bribe” him to locate in an area. Just one such Trump tax abatement cost tax payers $60 million in the first decade of a 40 year agreement. States and cities have “redistributed” taxpayer wealth to corporations and wealthy individuals to the tune of $70 Billion, last year, alone.
What about Social Security? Did you know there’s a cap on taxation for Social Security? After a certain level, the wealthy just stop paying, and it costs Social Security $100 Billion every year, according to economist Paul Solman.
Meanwhile, the libertarian Cato Institute says that we are losing $100 Billion a year in unnecessary “corporate welfare.”
While corporate welfare may be popular with policymakers who want to aid home-state businesses, it undermines the broader economy and transfers wealth from average taxpaying households to favored firms. Corporate welfare also creates strong ties between politicians and business leaders, and these ties are often the source of corruption scandals in Washington. Americans are sick and tired of “crony capitalism,” and the way to solve the problem is to eliminate business subsidy programs.
Corporate welfare doesn’t aid economic growth and it is an affront to America’s constitutional principles of limited government and equality under the law. Policymakers should therefore scour the budget for business subsidies to eliminate. Budget experts and policymakers may differ on exactly which programs represent unjustified corporate welfare, but this study provides a menu of about $100 billion in programs to terminate.
Bernie Sanders’ form of socialism is having tax payers provide benefits for individuals directly, such as paying for college tuition. But the other form of socialism is redistributing wealth upward, to rich corporations and individuals—hoping the benefit would, somehow, “trickle down.”