Senator Sanders is saying some interesting things about the U.S. government that other political candidates would rather not talk about. Wealthy corporations pay little or no taxes, while the poor and middle classes have to finance the cost of government, including foreign wars. Our tax money eventually ends up in the pockets of wealthy corporations that produce arms.
Conservative opponents are justified in objecting that the wealthy corporations are creating wealth as well as creating jobs for some more humble citizens, so the corporations should be entitled to keep and enjoy the wealth they create. That’s perfectly acceptable when we’re talking about adults, but what about the children of the poor? The government has a responsibility to help children obtain essential resources, not just by taxing poor and middle class citizens, but by taxing wealthy corporations as well.
One defender of the establishment recently claimed that the trillions of dollars spent to help the poor over the past 50 years have not reduced the number of people living below the poverty level. But despite those discouraging statistics money provided to poor families contributes to improving their quality of life. When you are poor, even a little help may have a great effect. Crime rates have declined significantly over the past decades, despite the increase in numbers of poor young people who commit the most crimes.
We must acknowledge that the private Rockefeller Foundation financed the research of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, which started the post-war sexual revolution (although that foundation eventually stopped contributing after public opinion turned against Kinsey). The wealthy can do a lot to improve society for everyone. The essential components of a nation are families, which are essentially “socialist.” The question is to what degree should the socialist policies of the family be extended to distant citizens you will probably never meet. As long as every citizen may contribute something to the nation, he should have access to essential resources.
Sen. Sanders says he was against the war in Iraq, but he should be consistent and also oppose any future wars in Syria or Iran, unless our allies in the region are threatened with imminent invasion. Despite the relatively isolated (i.e. safe) geographical position of North America, the U.S. federal government spends more money on defense than education, and gives more financial aid to some tiny allies than all the other countries of the world combined – including our major allies and international trading partners who are already being invaded by millions of single young men claiming to be refugees.
It’s true that government programs are often inefficient and wasteful, even in education. The Bush Administration spent US$6 billion on the misdirected “Reading First” program, which was a failure according to a 2008 study that concluded the program had no measurable effect on reading comprehension. It’s also possible that the Bush program actually had a negative effect on children’s internal motivation to learn, by spending excessive time drilling very young children on boring decoding skills, and maintaining the simplistic traditional concept of learning as merely content delivery: the Franken-School monster.
Socialism has a bad reputation because of the tragic communist experiments that failed in Russia, China, and other countries. But those countries continue to behave like totalitarian police states today despite embracing the free market economy, and the example of contemporary Western Europe indicates that some “socialist” economic policies (e.g. free health care and free education) were not the cause of such past failures. I think that if Sen. Sanders wants to appeal to as many voters as possible, he should emphasize how his administration would protect traditional American freedom and avoid making the same mistakes as the U.S.S.R. and the People’s Republic of Albania.