According to a Yougov poll, 43 percent of you hold a somewhat to very favorable opinion of socialism, 31 percent are unsure and just 26 percent somewhat to very unfavorable. Hence your enthusiasm for a crotchety septuagenarian who since I was 12 has never run anything in his life other than his mouth.
So what gives?
I’m too young to have cast a vote for Ronald Reagan, but I remember the energy and prosperity his right-shift of the country back towards free market capitalism after 15 years of Great Society malaise unleashed. Thus is your lurch towards the very system that history has declared the loser in the capitalism v. socialism cage match disconcerting.
I think there are four key factors that could explain why your generation--which has benefited from capitalism more than any in history, be it the technology you adore, the information/communication tools at your fingertips, the competent medicine available to you, etc.--is rejecting the very force that brought you here. The culprits are: lack of memory, lack of proper education, the entitlement culture in which you have been marinated since birth, and the fact that your generation is getting royally screwed by your predecessors. To be fair, we did this to you.
Every generation it seems needs to relearn the lessons of the one before it. I am a child of the Cold War. Socialism, and its estuary, Soviet communism, are not abstract historical footnotes to me. I saw the striking contrast between socialism and capitalism first hand, literally at the border between East and West. My memories of Berlin in 1991 have stayed with me. At night we would walk the vibrant, well-lit, happy streets of West Berlin until we passed through the Brandenburg Gate to the recently opened Soviet puppet-run East Berlin. It was like walking into a dismal, dark world of soulless economic and spiritual ennui. Russian soldiers I met who were still stationed there had one request: “We want to go to America.” This was just three years after your candidate chose to spend his honeymoon in the very Soviet Union that had inflicted such misery upon these hapless soliders of the imprisoned Eastern Block under the guise of a "worker's paradise."
As wonderful and utopian as it sounds (who doesn't like free stuff?) socialism just doesn’t work. Margaret Thatcher famously explained Socialism’s fatal flaw: you eventually run out of other people’s money.
After two generations of ever-expanding government services piling on top of an ever shrinking thrifty working and entrepreneurial class to pay for them, European socialism has kicked over into a death spiral. Because it denies basic human nature, it will unravel and collapse just as sure as the Titanic was destined for the bottom of the Atlantic. The only question is how long it will take. If you want to see what Bernie Sanders offers you, behold Greece.
This is where lack of proper education comes in. And again I cannot blame you. You have spent your entire educational careers force-fed leftist dogma that demonizes capitalism and stifles rather than encourages independent thought on the whole. It’s hard to entertain competing ideas when so many of them are deemed politically incorrect. So you know a lot more about Beyoncé than you do Ben Franklin.
With such institutionalized ignorance how can we possibly expect you to make informed decisions? Hence, just as the socialist Ponzi schemes of Europe are imploding, you all think it’s a great idea to implement one here.
Also, you have been cruelly raised in an entitlement culture wherein just showing up yields a trophy. I'll save you the suspense and tell you upfront that life doesn’t work that way. The universe is indifferent to anything but hard work and real results.
The Founding Fathers disdained the entitlement mentality and were very clear that you have a right to pursue happiness, but that's as far as it goes. Sanders would have you believe that happiness (translation: free goods and services) itself is a "right." He is sorely mistaken. You simply do not have a right to the fruits of others’ labor without compensating them for it. Otherwise you destroy the incentive for anyone to produce said fruits…and then where will you be? Review: empty shelves of USSR for a clue.
Please do not mistake my entreaty for condescension. There is legitimacy to Sanders’ appeal. The issues he raises—income inequality, rising healthcare and tuition costs, a stagnant economy, the enrichment of the political class, endless wars, etc.—are worthy of discussion. But the cure he offers for our national pneumonia is to stand naked in a freezing rain storm.
Certainly we see crony capitalism on Wall Street in some pockets. It’s easy to look at the business “fat cats” and pin the blame for the ills of society on them. But the question Sanders doesn’t pose to you is this: If the wealth gap is so shameful, and the best solution to it is the expansion of government, then how is it that, as the federal government has grown, six of the 10 richest counties in America now orbit Washington D.C.?
Consider an issue heavy on your minds: student debt. There was a time when the easy availablity of credit for college students was considered a social good...and what better vehicle for creating a more educated populous than the government that could guarantee these loans? The result has been something much more destructive...to you and to parents who must write enormous tuition checks.
College costs have skyrocketed thanks to government intervention. Why? Because a university can charge whatever it wants and knows that if you can't pay government will bail you out and make them whole. And what do you have to show for what, on paper, seemed such a noble idea? A diploma that costs 10 times what it did when I went college, and means less in the job market where a bachelor degree is as commonplace now as a high school diploma was in my day. That is where the wheels of good intentions of bigger governmet meet the road of reality.
In short, socialism on paper is nirvana…but socialism in practice invites corruption, inefficiency and eventually banana republicanism. People vote with their feet. No one was ever shot and killed trying to scale the Berlin Wall to go east.
I will say that you do have a right to be ticked off at the nation your parents and grandparents are leaving you. They conitnue to feast on a dollar's worth of government largess, pay only 60 cents for it, borrow the rest, and stick you with their 40 cent tab year after year until over $19 trillion in debt has been left for you to sort out after we're gone. Just remember, it was the expansion of government that socialism epitomizes, not private enterprise, that imposed this generational theft upon you and saddled you with the dismal future you hope Sanders will change.
So, please know I understand that you are unhappy with the way things are going. But I ask you, in that time that you feel the country has failed you, has government grown or shrunk? And then what does Bernie stand for? This might be something worth giving deeper thought. I think you will find that Bernie Sanders and his demonstrably defunkt dogma is not the cure to what ailes you; he represents the disease, in his case, a super flu…do not fall for his false promises.
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