Bernie Sanders

In Quasi-Victory Speech, Bernie Sanders Vows Free College, End to Mass Incarceration

Some things for a libertarian to like, much to despise.


Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders—who remains in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton as I write this—gave a victory speech of sorts in which he promised to enact progressive reforms if elected. He stressed the need for the federal government to take action on climate change, make college free for all Americans, confront the greed of Wall Street, and reduce the number of people behind bars.

Sanders lamented that students are taking on huge debt in order to graduate from college.

"People should not be punished financially because they want to get a decent education," he said, to thunderous applause.

It's not surprising that this line plays especially well with debt-weary young people, who vastly prefer Sanders to Clinton. Even so, free college for all is not quite the progressive policy Sanders makes it out to be, since the beneficiaries would probably be wealthier Americans. And though Sanders claims a tax on Wall Street speculation would cover the cost, further government investment in the higher education system seems myopic, given all the problems and bad incentives it has created thus far.

Sanders' remarks about ending mass incarceration are likely to play better with libertarians. As I've previously written, it's undeniable that Sanders has a few genuinely praiseworthy policy positions: he has defended Edward Snowden's actions, condemned the War in Iraq, and opposed the excesses of the Patriot Act. He is certainly better on civil liberties and foreign policy than his Democratic rival and the three GOP frontrunners.

He's crazy on domestic policy, mind you. But who isn't?

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  1. Hell, Trump condemned the War in Iraq and the two presidents who put us there.

    1. Only two out of four?

  2. “People should not be punished financially because they want to get a decent education,” he said, to thunderous applause.

    They’re not punished, they’re made to fulfill their obligation of a contract freely entered into. Not too dissimilar from the obligations you think we all have towards the state, except we’re not given much choice in those instances. But you love and want to increase those obligations. Why should I be punished financially because others want to get a decent college education?

    1. I agree but if I were to play Devil’s advocate I’d say many of them were defrauded. Of course the state controls the student loan biz and most of the educational institutions so sovereign immunity applies.

      1. They still make out better than average (for reasons that are possibly causal). They also are being subsidized by people who cannot go to college.

      2. And ask Mr. Sanders or his supporters what their big plan to remedy that situation is.

        My guess is that it involves higher taxes, a lot of ‘free’ money being handed out to students, and even more massive subsidies going to their progressive pals in the university system. As well as a government ‘guarantee’ of ‘free’ college education as a ‘civil right’ for everyone.

        1. right since that’s exactly the opposite of how we got here in the first place it’ll definitely work!

      3. If there was actual fraud going on (such as a college claiming accreditation when they were not accredited at all) then yes, they should be punished and probably made to pay some restitution. But that is highly dependent on the wording of the college’s advertising materials. If they said, “you WILL make $100,000 straight out of college if you get our degree”, then that’s probably fraud. But if they cited real-life examples of graduates who made $100,000 a year, that’s just advertising.

        On a side note, it’s distressing that college-age adults are apparently getting duped by advertisements. Every child who has gotten a hyped-up but disappointing toy knows that advertisers cannot be trusted; you have to ask someone who owns the product if you want to get the truth. But somehow, college-age adults are incapable of this.

        1. +1 fifteen-dollar solar-powered clothes dryer (commonly known as a clothesline).

          1. that is so sustainable!

          2. But now it comes in Day-Glo colors!

  3. So when is Reason coming out and endorsing Sanders?

    1. Any minute now. Then they can change the name of the blog to LINO.

      1. He’s better than Hillary, but that’s not saying much. Even Trump is preferable to her.

        1. because he is simply an imbecile and not a demon in a poorly made human-suit?

  4. He’s crazy on domestic policy, mind you. But who isn’t?

    *hard cut to Rand Paul crying into a copy of Hayek’s Road To Serfdom*

  5. Socialism = fascism. If you want to “bring the economy under democratic control”, a merger of business and government, consolidated and centralized at the top, is inevitable.

    Fascism is what socialism looks like when other people’s money runs out. Or what it looks like when you are on the wrong side of the state.

    Fascism is what socialism looks like when citizens turn from net receivers of government goodies into debt slaves, when the state has to find scapegoats to keep the ponzi scam going.

  6. “He is certainly better on civil liberties and foreign policy than his Democratic rival and the three GOP frontrunners.”

    Really? I haven’t heard him say a single sensible thing about foreign policy beyond condemning the Iraq war (brave position right there) and saying that he’s going to spend less on the military in order to spend more on social programs. That isn’t a foreign policy. Although I guess his pledge to make us more like Denmark is sort of a foreign policy, just not a very good one.

    He also said that he’s raising everyone’s taxes and will happily increase regulation across all sectors of the economy. Are increased taxes and regulations good for civil liberties all of a sudden?

    And he’s clearly in the pocket of the social justice mobs as well. You know, the ones calling for censorship, speech codes, and the effective nullification of the first, second, and fourth amendments. Is all that good for civil liberties too? Hm.

    Oh and a government takeover of the national healthcare system is totally good for civil liberties. No way that can possibly go wrong.

    Who knew that socialism was actually totally compatible with libertarianism? Thanks for opening my eyes, Reason. All this time I’ve been thinking that the idea was to shrink the government. But now I finally understand that it just means supporting the guy that all the kool kids like because he’s, like, gonna stick it to the corporations, man. And maybe he’ll even legalize pot. Rad.

    1. Actually, he’s said that we’ll continue senseless intervention in the Middle East, but we’ll get more local help with the bombing stuff. My hardcore Bernie friends assure me that he’s just saying that because he has to in order to be elected. So either he’s as bloody-minded as Obama or he’s the sort of cynical liar that my friends decry. Funny, when I pointed this out, the subject got quickly changed to billionaires, and not the Oprah Winfrey or Tom Steyer sorts.

    2. Reason’s just trying to reserve its spot at the cocktail parties. Don’t hate.

    3. With a Republican Congress, all he’ll achieve is gridlock, which is a good thing.

      1. Not in the ‘pen and phone’ era that Obama’s created.

        This is something that should not be forgotten.

      2. Naw, the Republicans in congress are too concerned about being smeared and so they go along with whatever the dems want. The only, and I mean only, good thing about Trump is his ‘fuck you’ attitude; we need more of that in politics but coming from principled small govt types

    4. sometimes you have to grow government in order to shrink it. or you can be a child and ignore this obvious truth

    5. Meh, a Republican Congress will kill pretty much all of his “grand schemes” of single payer, and “free” College. Every Republican united against against Obamacare in 2009-10, no way they back Single Payer. Bernie would need a Democratic Congress more liberal than the one that Obama had 2009-2011, that’s not gonna happen.

      Executive Orders would be my biggest concern with Bernie, but they all suck on that one anyway(with the exception of Paul who doesn’t have a chance). And Bernie constantly fighting with a Republican Congress isn’t the worst thing in the world, I’d prefer Ted Cruz working with a Republican Congress to cut spending (or fighting a Republican Congress to cut spending) but the Executive and the Legislature being at odds is something I’d be happy about. Everyone else is just gonna keep expanding the scope of government with little opposition, Clinton will compromise with GOP and spending will continue to increase in every area like it has with Obama and the GOP, and Rubio will do the same while getting us stuck fighting in another Middle Eastern Civil War. Bernie sucks, but worse than the other scenarios, I don’t buy that just yet.

      Right now for me with Paul now pretty much done, I’d vote for:

      1. Ted Cruz
      2. Gary Johnson
      3. Nobody

      1. I’d vote for the no body candidate.

    6. Absolutely!

      1. ****Absolutely to what Chip Chip person said****

  7. And what of free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream?

    1. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream under President Sanders? You can have any flavor you want, as long as you want vanilla!

  8. Bernie says he’s against ‘mass incarceration’.

    People of his political stripe don’t really have a good track record with that stance–though they’re pretty creative when it comes to emptying prisons–why, I can recall an instance where they freed up 6 million beds……..

    1. You know who else freed up… Er, whoops, never mind.

  9. “People should not be punished financially because they want to get a decent education,”

    An excellent education will cost extra.

    1. if not taking is “giving”, i guess not giving could be “taking”

  10. Just one question – are students in any way responsible for their own education? Do they have to read books and write papers? Solve equations?

    1. Only if they feel comfortable doing so, and differential equations are equally divided between heterogeneous and homogeneous. Otherwise, you’re a monster.

  11. For the first time in my life, literally every candidate with a decent chance at winning makes me nauseated. That aside, as stated above, at least Comrade Sanders will be polarizing and may create backlash-induced gridlock. So, there’s that.

    I’ve noticed two things about progressives that have thus far been overwhelmingly true:

    1) Although they love to paint conservatives and libertarians as self-centered (“Fuck you, I got mine!”), when pressed to defend these grand plans, every one of them is no more than two breaths away from explaining how great it’s gonna be for THEM. Sure, they may start out with appeals for “the good of the country/middle class”, but that shit gets dropped quick if the convo goes longer than 30 seconds. If one were allowed to punch a BS supporter in the face the second they use “I”, “me”, or “my”, there’d be a lot of bloodied-up proggies (not that I support the initiation of violence).
    2) When their plans inevitably fail or turn out to cost many times more than originally promised, the excuse is *ALWAYS* the same: “You didn’t give us exactly what we wanted! You stood in our way! Obstructionist!”

    1. “Give us exactly what we want, OR ELSE!”

  12. Everyone gets to be an astronaut, yay!!

    1. Ground control to major tom…

  13. The independents are all loyal Democrat voters and small “l” libertines! What a relief.

  14. So the question I pose to myself and I suspect many like minded Libertarians is, can I support Sanders with his anti mass incarceration agenda, anti military interventionist stance and hold my nose with this free education nonsense?

    The answer is probably yes accept I would have to believe that he would/could end or impede the military industrial complex’s psychotic drive to start wars all over the world. And I don’t believe that. Not for a nano second. Considering the emergence of ISIS, this is not likely.

    Next I would have to believe that he could make a dent in the incarceration for profit, war on drugs complex. It may be possible to reinstate federal parole, which I support but the rest of it the American people, although changing, are not likely to agree.

  15. Then I would have to believe he could/would reign in wall street. Taxing speculation is certainly not the way to go. Talk about a non-solution. Re-instating Glass-Stegal, OK there’s something I could support but the big banks like Goldman are pretty much immune from these kind of actions. So any actions taken will likely be lauded as a success but really just business as usual. Funny, Bernie and the rest of the Progressives wont talk about the carried interest loophole hedge funds use to pay themselves at capital gains tax rates. Just a typical non solution bait and switch for the ignorant.

    Which brings us to free education. And I’m not sure if his words were “free” or affordable. Nor am I sure it matters. This is an issue he would likely be able to affect change in. But it would be a government solution to a government created problem. Ounce the gov decided to back all PRIVATE student loans it was par for the course that tuition rates and interest rates would skyrocket. Free money for banks and colleges. And the affect has been a massive increase in student cost while simultaneously devaluing the education they received. And he wants to make it free? Nothings more expensive than “free”. Sure, let’s further devalue education.

    So the answer is NO for me. No I cannot support Bernie. We may agree on many of our problems but we most certainly do not agree on the origins or solutions.

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