Dems’ socialist wing forces party to pick its path
By JAY AMBROSE | Tribune News Service | Published: July 27, 2018
She’s a biggie, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is, because this 28-year-old politician declared herself a socialist, beat a powerful New York City Democrat in a primary, is sure to go to Congress after the November election and is the future. I am talking about the socialist future, the future that could very well ruin America.
It might not happen, of course, but Ocasio-Cortez is just one of a number of Democrats sufficiently confused and ambitious to be turning to a system that stuffs liberty in a bag while it locks the door on economic growth. This arises out of old instincts, but also because of the party’s current, ineffectual muddle of what do we want and when do we want it. And don’t forget that there is also political opportunity: Although they may not quite understand socialism, 50 percent of millennials are for it.
The millennial vote will at one point be the biggest vote in America and it’s already powerful enough to have given oomph to the 2016 presidential campaign of one of America’s oldest hippies, the socialist senator named Bernie Sanders. He’s the guy because, for one thing, he not only wants to stick it to those big corporations (that happen to be crucial to our well-being), but promises to save the students from loan debt.
He wants to make colleges free for all, although, sadly, they won’t be free for taxpayers and the spending won’t be kind to national debt. Here is something to keep in mind. Tuition is mainly as high as it is right now because of liberal enthusiasm for this loan idea enabling colleges and universities to get away with asking for however much money they wanted.
Good intentions mixed with scrambled thought inevitably pave the road to penury, misery and worse, as in 100 million people being killed in the 20th century by such socialist regimes as the Soviet Union, China and North Korea. Today, a foremost exemplar of starvation techniques is the socialist regime in Venezuela.
In Western countries today, we know, socialism does not mean government owning most industries and indulging in Stalinist dictatorships, but more nearly exercising control through regulatory overkill and “soft despotism.” As described by the 19th-century author Alexis de Tocqueville, that would be government that hinders, represses, extinguishes, dazes and stupefies, reducing people to a timid herd of sheep. Freedom can go kaput, he said.
Agreeing with him was a 20th-century political genius named F.A. Hayek who fretted mainly about socialistic central planning in which a handful of experts substitute for competition and the choices of millions of consumers. Political power grows, individual power is diminished, markets are wrecked, promised benefits never show up, group identity matters more than merit and you are told not just what side of the road to drive on, but what your destination should be.
In response to such criticisms, Sanders has said look at what the socialistic Scandinavian countries have done for the working man, and, yes, look and get it that these are actually capitalistic with a freer economy in Denmark than here, no minimum wage in any of them, lower corporate taxes than ours (at least before Trumpian tax reform), privatization of schools and the postal service in Sweden and cutbacks in spending.
Sanders might note, though, that they still have expensive welfare programs and that, according to The Money Illusion, a couple with an income of about $70,000 in Sweden can pay a 60 percent income tax on top of a value-added tax. That’s what he wants in America?
Capitalism is spreading worldwide, lifting hundreds of millions out of destitution, and President Donald Trump’s tax reform and regulatory reductions have given a mighty push to economic progress. Blacks, for instance, have the lowest unemployment rate in history. Ocasio-Cortez responds that “unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.” What?
Sorry, but that’s what you get from socialists. Watch out.
Jay Ambrose is a Tribune News Service columnist.