Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Is a Millionaire. That's Great!

The democratic socialist gets rich—and makes the argument for capitalism.

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If I had a dollar for every time Bernie Sanders has inveighed against "millionaires and billionaires," I'd be…well, still probably not as rich as Bernie Sanders, who revealed last week that he is now a millionaire. Sanders' newfound wealth is due in part to the success of his book, Our Revolution, which earned him roughly $885,000 in 2017 after hitting number three on the New York Times best-seller list, a fact about which Sanders is justly pleased.

"I wrote a best-selling book," he said, explaining how he ended up at the high end of America's wealth spectrum. "If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."

That's right—and that's how it should be.

Sanders spent years building himself and his name into a successful national brand by identifying and filling a relatively unique niche in the market for national politics. Based on the success of that brand, he then negotiated a deal with a publisher to bring a product—his book—to market. The product sold well, and Sanders, who had invested a significant amount of personal time in conceiving and producing the product, reaped the financial rewards. Now he's better off, and I suspect that he, at least, would argue that the people who bought his book are better off too. Everyone wins.

Sanders, in other words, was acting as an entrepreneur, a person who made something new in the world, something for which there turned out to be considerable market demand. And Sanders clearly feels no shame about earning a large return on his labor as a result.

Folks, that's capitalism. Whether he means to or not, Bernie is making an argument for the existence of rich capitalists, and for the value they bring to the world. And it's an argument that both could and should extend beyond book writing to, say, the founders and inventors behind some of the nation's most successful businesses, some of whom have made a lot more than $885,000. If, just for example, you start an online bookstore that eventually revolutionizes the entire retail sector, making it incredibly easy to download Sanders' book to a convenient digital device for just a few bucks, you can be a multi-billionaire too. (Sanders, who blasted Amazon for paying low wages to its distribution center workers, probably made a significant chunk of his book earnings off of Amazon sales.)

But wait a minute—is Sanders really arguing against the existence of millionaires and billionaires? Maybe not explicitly. But by repeatedly singling them out, he was certainly implying that there was something unsavory, something vaguely illegitimate about their existence. And some of Sanders' fellow democratic socialists have certainly suggested that the very existence of a billion-dollar personal fortune is a moral problem, or a "policy failure." (The Sanders brand was, in many ways, first to market. But as with many popular products, his success has led to a legion of imitators.)

Maybe, then, there's a difference between millionaires and billionaires, with the former being a little less objectionable? It's hard to make a coherent argument that there's a clear line at which some amount of wealth suddenly becomes unacceptable—that at some point, you've sold so many books, and made so much money from doing so, that it's immoral.

For Sanders, at least, that line seems to be moving. As the folks at ThinkProgress recently noticed in a video, Sanders appears to have become less focused on millionaires and more interested in the problems with billionaires at the same time his own income increased. Perhaps that's just a coincidence. (Sanders objected to the ThinkProgress video, suggesting it was influenced by corporate money.)

In any case, I think it's genuinely great that Bernie Sanders is a millionaire, and that in becoming a millionaire, our nation's most well-known democratic socialist politician has, however inadvertently, started defending one of the core tenets of capitalism—that if you come up with an idea for a product, make that product a reality in the world, and sell it to lots of willing buyers, it's perfectly just and reasonable for you to earn a lot of money as a result. One can only hope that there are more best-sellers, and more millions, in Sanders' future.

NEXT: How Trump Could Save Obama's Lawyer

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  1. Bernie Sanders has never held a real job in his life. His only paying jobs have been as an elected official.

    Sorry Peter, but I am afraid someone getting rich off of being a politician is not a sign that capitalism works. And it sure as hell isn’t a good thing.

    1. Don’t you work for the federal government, John? Is that a real job?

    2. He got rich selling a book to rubes. Rubes got suckered, Sanders got outed as a millionaire (after first being outed for owning three homes), what’s not to like?

      1. Hilary and Co. bought him his beach house for selling out at the convention. This man has largely made his money leveraging his elected position.

        There is nothing good about any of this. I hope he dies in agony.

        1. Has anyone inspected this guy’s crawlspace?

          1. We have basements where I live. Why don’t you come check mine out Tony?

  2. The definition of millionaire & billionaire = people with more money than me.

    1. With 999 999$ in assets, you are not exactly poor either !

  3. Mr. Hitler spent years building himself and his name into a successful national brand by identifying and filling a relatively unique niche in the market for national politics. Based on the success of that brand, he then negotiated a deal with a publisher to bring a product—his book—to market. The product sold well, and Hitler, who had invested a significant amount of personal time in conceiving and producing the product, reaped the financial rewards. Now he’s better off, and I suspect that he, at least, would argue that the people who bought his book are better off too. Everyone wins.

    1. I suppose some think this a clever analogy. But it ignores that Hitler was in jail for armed rebellion (Sanders is all hot air and one useless vote), and that his more permanent fame came from actions 10-15 years later (Sanders might admire Communists who do the same, but he himself is just hot air).

      1. Sanders has worked for thirty years as a sitting US senator to communism this country and seeks to continue that work as Commander in Chief.

        He should have been executed for treason decades ago. Just like every other Marxist.

  4. Politicians getting sweet book contracts is not “capitalism”, it’s a payoff.

    1. And no one personifies this sort of corruption more than Trump. That motherfucker rewrote the tax code to benefit his real estate business practices. He uses the public office to sell his products. He hires his children. He even tried to make a deal with a dictator while he was running for office and traded on our foreign policy to ingratiate himself to the dictator.

      1. “And no one personifies this sort of corruption more than Trump.”
        Poor, poor loser. You lost, grow up.

        “That motherfucker rewrote the tax code to benefit his real estate business practices.”
        Bullshit.

        “He uses the public office to sell his products.”
        Cite missing

        “He hires his children.”

        “He even tried to make a deal with a dictator while he was running for office and traded on our foreign policy to ingratiate himself to the dictator.”
        The first part is true and irrelevant, the later is lefty bullshit.

        1. “He hires his children.”
          Yawn.

          1. Clinton rightly caught all kinds of shit for soliciting donations to a real charity, not some Trump scam charity, while she was sec of state. She was accused of selling Uranium to Russia which she had nothing to do with but it was the biggest scandal if you turned Fox Newsm. Well, Trump is selling things to foreign govts. He’s putting the money in his pocket. God damn, y’all have no shame, no awareness.

            1. You are a delusional piece of shit. She is absolutely guilty in the Uranium One scandal and for soma y other things. The Clinton charities are all covers for the Clinton Crime Family to,continue their evil work and increase their power.

              You are a shill for mafioso like them, and communists like Obama. You really are to blame for all the evil in the world.

              Goddamn you to Hell.

            2. You really are upping your ignorant as fuck persona.

            3. “Trump is selling things to foreign govts. He’s putting the money in his pocket. God damn, y’all have no shame, no awareness.”

              I called you on your bullshit above, and you STILL have no cite to bak your claims.
              Bull
              .
              .
              .
              shit.
              Is that clear, liar?

            4. You mean the way the Clinton Foundation built useless buildings in Haiti that were never used for any productive purpose, but did fill the coffers of their global cronies? That prompted the best line in presidential debate history when Trump said, “They hate you in Haiti”…..LOL!!! & it is true!

          2. I’ve heard he also puts the toilet roll on where it dispenses…FROM THE TOP!! REEEEE!!!

        2. Trump goes on a Florida vacation to his for profit resort every fucking weekend.
          That’s corruption. He was hired to live in DC and run our affairs not fly off to his business every weekend. And he brings half the govt with him on these weekly vacations and they end up having to spend money at his resort. The govt has to rent space from Trump. They have to buy his food and drinks and god knows what else. The DOJ rewrote the rules so Trump could sell things to foreign govts. It’s a fucking joke. You’re a fucking joke.

          1. He was hired to be president. Can you show me any text in the constitution or a US law that requires the Executive to occupy the White House as a residence?

            You also make a number of spurious claims tha have no foundation. This is typical of you. See my above comment for more.

          2. “He was hired to live in DC and run our affairs not fly off to his business every weekend.”

            And if he stayed in the White House to do more of what he’s been doing, you’d bitch about that, too.

            1. Point, Mr. Sure!!

      2. Congress wrote the tax code dumb fuck.

      3. “That motherfucker rewrote the tax code to benefit his real estate business practices. ”

        Tell me how capping the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes (including property taxes) benefits the real estate industry in all those high tax markets – like New York.

  5. Maybe he can tax himself into oblivion to pay for his economic policies.

    1. In their defense, FNC asked him about that.

      He asked Martha McCallum why she doesn’t pay more than she has to in taxes.

      He had to be reminded that she is neither a candidate for President nor has she claimed we need a wealth tax.

  6. >>>negotiated a deal with a publisher to bring a product—his book—to market.

    yeah ’cause that’s not just funneled payola from a publishing house … tons of market demand for a Bernie book

    1. Yeah. It was totally legit. Everyone is dying to read the ravings of an angry old man who was so lazy he was once kicked out of a commune.

      What is sad is that Sudmeran is so far gone in the fart bubble around the beltway, he thinks this book deal was legit.

      1. Maybe our resident misanthrope can profit from Bernie’s experience.

        The lesson: well, just because one is old and angry, it does not thereby mean that one cannot write a best seller.

        Therefore, perhaps our resident misanthrope might do well to pen a book entitled, “Burn Bitch: Our Revolution Against Christian Icons and Monuments”

        1. Bernie’s highest and best use is living in a puss soaked alley in NYC. Screaming his incoherent ideas at a garbage can.

          So that makes him attractive to democrat filth.

      2. Suderman actually thinks Hillary is an astute commodity trader as well.

        He’s rather gullible like that.

  7. Bernie Sanders got rich while in public office, and according to Harry Truman, that means he’s corrupt.

    1. Harry was right on the money.

    2. I like the idea of electing someone who’s already filthy rich so he’s not so tempted.

      Apparently some voters had the same idea a few years ago.

      1. Hahaha, Trump was so fucking greedy he tried to make a deal with a god damn dictator enemy of the USA during the election. Trump has proven that theory of yours wrong. The entire history of the world is rich people winning office to make even more money.

        1. Too bad the Russians got to Mueller and suppressed The Truth.

          You should start a conspiracy newsletter.

          1. Are you fucking retarded Eddy? Trump was trying to score a deal with Russia during the campaign. Trump selling rooms to foreign govts at this moment. They stay in his hotels to influence Trump. They buy his garbage and dangle Trump Tower deals to win his favor.

            1. Are you Jeff 2.0?

        2. You mean he was trying to build a hotel in a foreign city as part of his hotel business. If you weren’t such a communist shill puking up the talking points you gobble up like pablum from places like Thinkprogress and Media Matters, maybe you might have an orignal thought and attempt to engage in some cognitive thinking. But you don’t do that. You’re just another thieving Marxist. Avaricious and seeking to use government to acquire and attain what you have not and cannot earn for yourself.

          Goddamn you to Hell.

        3. Could be worse. He could’ve had a plane filled with cash sent to a very vocal enemy of the USA.

  8. I’m sure he would have to agree that the only reason that he is rich is because of all the poor/middle class people that have supported him throughout the years. They are the labor that made his capital possible and they’re rightly entitled to all the money he made from his book. If they didn’t exist, there would be no book. Come on Mr. Sanders, put your money where your mouth is and return the money to those people….your people.

    1. His ilk don’t ever give the money back. Progressives are only generous with other people’s money.

  9. But I’m not a millionaire, so per the democrat progressive socialist rules, that’s income inequality and comrade Sanders must give me some of his money so we can have equal income.

    That’s only fair.

  10. Sanders has 3 choices as to where to bed down for the night but wants to limit your choice of deodorants to 2.

    1. I’m borrowing that one.

    2. Bernie is hoping that if the industry can’t market more than two deodorants then they will be free to invent a deodorant that will cover up the stench of socialism.

  11. Sanders’ newfound wealth is due in part to the success of his book.

    Don’t you mean our book, comrade?

  12. “I wrote a best-selling book,” he said, explaining how he ended up at the high end of America’s wealth spectrum. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

    It’s not like you did something evil, like make cars or computers, or god forbid, deodorant.

    1. Or TV shows. Those guys pick our Presidents and decide what constitutes reality.

    2. There are already plenty of books. The addition of Comrade Sanders’ book has caused me great confusion, a good example of excessive choice.

  13. Bernie – a capitalist. Who’d’a thunk it?

    1. Capitalism for me, but not for thee.

  14. It might be great Bernie is a millionaire, but it is not great he wants to pick my pocket of the couple of bucks I have left after taxes.

  15. Anti capitalism sure does sell. Just look at all the little dipshits that drop $20 on a Che t-shirt.

    1. The little dip-shits don’t worry, the next welfare check is already on their prepaid debit card.

  16. It’s not a crime to write a successful book and become wealthy but if this Commie bozo gets into power it will be.

    1. Not for him and our other Socialist Overlords.

  17. I liked David Henderson’s take on this over at the Library of Economics and Liberty: Hey Bernie, preach what you practice.

  18. This lifelong congress critter is just now reaching millionaire status? That can’t be true. There are tons of stories of people hitting that mark at a much earlier age, at a much lower salary (and that salary included REAL earned dollars, not money given to them by taxpayers and donations). Don’t senators make like 150-200k?!

    What a clown. Honestly I am even MORE scared of his lack of fiscal restraint, if that was even possible. To have your own checkbook that far out of order is embarrassing.

    1. Not to mention, the fact that he puts forward that most of it came from the book deal?! So he has been sucking the money out of the govt teat for YEARS, and the only reason he is a millionaire is because his book deal of 885k? So what was he worth before that?

      This either has to be blatant lying or he is literally the most irresponsible person to handle money.

  19. Capitalism works even for parasites like Sanders who never worked an honest day in his life.

    He’s the last guy to rail against it.

    If he hates it so much maybe he can hand over the 885k to his favourite charity.

  20. Now let’s watch illiberal dingbats like that illiterate from the Bronx and see what she does.

    So far, she’s making good coin – and hatching up schemes to plunder the coffers like a good fanatical socialist deadbeat – but prevents projects like Amazon from being developed screwing people out of jobs. She’s directly interfering in the people’s right to the pursuit of happiness but will make sure she gets hers.

  21. If by “capitalism” “we” mean the force-initiating slaveholding monarchic mercantilism German communists envied, then Bernie is a spokesman.

  22. It’s very easy to talk. The difficult thing is to put into practice what is put into speech. Disfunção Erétil

  23. “It’s hard to make a coherent argument that there’s a clear line at which some amount of wealth suddenly becomes unacceptable”
    No, it’s not hard. It’s hard to make a coherent argument that no line can be drawn. If one person in the world owned all things then would you still be ok with that? No, only a moron would be ok with that. So there is one example. Just because we might disagree whether someone having $100 Billion is too much does not mean there is no line. Context matters. If we live in a world where people are homeless or where some people die because they can’t afford medical treatment then yes, it is easy to draw lines. Bezos will be perfectly free even if we reduced his wealth in half. He could still own multiple mansions and private jets and have lobster dinners every night. He deserves the extras in life. But when people are stuck in misery we should put in limits. For anyone with a moral compass this is a no brainer. You’re letting your ideology taint your ability to think concretely about the world.

    1. “If one person in the world owned all things then would you still be ok with that? ”

      The only way that could happen in the real world would be for a big powerful government that continually and willfully interferes in the free market deliberately advantaged that own person to make it happen.

      “No, it’s not hard. It’s hard to make a coherent argument that no line can be drawn.”

      It’s hard to make a coherent argument that government should be deliberately taking wealth that belongs to one person should be taken from him at all to give something to someone else.

      “For anyone with a moral compass this is a no brainer.”
      What is or isn’t moral is a subjective concept that cannot be empirically proven. Your subjective views are not more correct than those who have different views.

  24. If he believed his own rhetoric he should be giving away that money to people earning below the national average to close the gap on income inequality.

  25. Taxes should be a means to fund the government. That should be it but it isn’t. We use taxes to correct income inequality and many times to influence behavior. We use taxes for cronyism and political favors.

    That is why the tax system sucks. It should just be about funding the government.

    And this BS about income inequality is ridiculous. Income equality would be totally immoral and unfair. You want to pay the janitor at the hospital the same as the doctor?

    Taxes should be flat.Actually a head tax is even more fair. The movie theater doesn’t ask how much you make for admission.

  26. Comrade Bernie is now a millionaire?
    I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of his he’s going to donate to the IRS, or is he just another liberal hypocrite that wants other people to donate most of their money to the government?

  27. […] recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  28. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  29. This “Bernie is a millionaire” foolishness is a false equivalence. The greatest Democratic Socialist in US History, FDR, was also an old money East Coast elite. Democratic socialism is not equal to communism. Capitalism is allowed…

  30. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  31. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  32. […] recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  33. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  34. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed a […]

  35. […] Sanders recently talked about his impressive sum of book earnings, and Reason’s Peter Suderman pointed out that the socialist is indeed […]

  36. […] artículo apareció por primera vez en Reason por Peter Suderman. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || […]

  37. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less stable […]

  38. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less […]

  39. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less […]

  40. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less stable […]

  41. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less […]

  42. […] that may seem unfortunate or unpleasant to the sort of people who, say, own three homes and write bestsellers that make them millionaires—but which often benefit the people who make those choices: lower-income people with less stable […]

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