“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” – Margaret Thatcher
As economist Milton Friedman famously said, there’s no free lunch. What he meant was that money doesn’t simply materialize from the ether, rather, it comes from a source. What you get for free is being paid for by someone, and that someone is often you–you just don’t know it.
Nothing is free. Not a thing. So it astounds me to see tens of thousands of people who, for all intents and purposes seem to be mentally competent, appearing at Bernie Sanders rallies, holding up #FeelTheBern signs as a septuagenarian socialist preaches to them about “economic equality.”
These people are often young, they lack historical knowledge, and practical experience, and are prone to manipulation by promises of free college and stardust. This is how socialism rises. An opportunistic insurgent comes from out of nowhere, and appeals to a populace that is deeply frustrated with the dying star of establishment politics. They promise the moon, and a cult of ideology coalesces around the insurgent.
People believe in the radical ideas espoused by this insurgent because their deep sense of dissatisfaction with the prevailing political climate clouds their otherwise rational judgement.
That’s what’s happening with Bernie Sanders. He says the ambiguous “rich” need to pay their equally ambiguous “fair share.” But what is a “fair share?” Sanders has proposed free public college tuition, a single payer healthcare system, free childcare, as well as many other socialist programs that would cost trillions, and he says he would pay for his programs by raising taxes on the wealthy.
According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the top 20% of income earners (approximately 65 million people earning 51.3% of all wealth) pay 83.9% of all federal income tax in the United States. The wealthy already carry a substantial amount of the tax burden as it is, so what is their “fair share?” Their fair share is whatever it takes. Nobody will say that out loud, but that’s the truth.
In order to finance trillions of dollars in social programs, one certainly requires a lot of money. Taxing the wealthy seems like a great idea to everyone who’s not the wealthy. It’s class warfare, so it works.
Not only that, Bernie Sanders has already said he would need to raise the payroll tax for middle-income Americans to pay for family leave. So he’s already broken his “tax only the wealthy” rule.
This is socialism.
Taxes are increased on the wealthy, then the wealthy stop innovating, and they stop advancing because they have a reduced incentive. Higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations also means lower salaries, fewer hours, layoffs, and hiring freezes. Higher taxes lead to fewer investments, meaning fewer small businesses, meaning fewer jobs created. An increased tax burden has a ripple effect on the entire economy of which Sanders supporters are apparently unaware. I guess they slept through Econ 101.
Additionally, when people know they will be mercilessly taxed, fewer people will have the drive to work hard and succeed. This leads to fewer wealthy people over time. When there are fewer wealthy people to tax, the tax burden must then be shifted to lower classes. Eventually, to pay for all the social programs promised to the people, taxes have to be raised for everyone. But once that happens, what is fair?
Fair is whatever the government says is fair. If healthcare is a right, and college is a right, and childcare is a right, what else is a right? A home? A car? Food? A living stipend? If we follow the logic of socialism, we eventually become a cradle-to-grave nation in which the federal government takes care of us as if we’re its children. To pay for this, the government will eventually have to tax us at 100% of our income.
And at what point does the government stop guaranteeing “rights?” When the money runs out. What happens when the money runs out? Total economic collapse.
There’s no free lunch.