Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders Claims to Love 'Economic Freedom'

I do not think that means what you think it means.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) made his case for democratic socialism yesterday in a speech at George Washington University and an interview on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. Among other things, he called for a "21st Century Economic Bill of Rights" that guarantees "a decent job that pays a living wage," "quality health care," "a complete education," "affordable housing," "a clean environment," and "a secure retirement."

Sanders, who is vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, pitched his policies as the only means to "achieving political and economic freedom in every community."

Many Democrats fear the party's swing leftward will fail to resonate with large swaths of Americans. Sanders wants to change that. With an homage to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the senator said that he intends to pick up the mantle from the Depression-era New Deal. "Economic rights are human rights," he told CNN.

Sanders isn't the only socialist in the 2020 race, he added, calling President Donald Trump and other right-wing politicians "corporate socialists." He pointed to the benefits that have been bestowed upon big business by the feds, such as the Wall Street bailouts of 2008. This, he concluded, is "socialism for the very rich and unfettered individualism for the very poor," he said.

Mammoth companies do, indeed, get all kinds of subsidies and other benefits from the government. And they shouldn't. But Sanders wants to reverse the equation entirely, replacing those handouts to the rich with new handouts for the masses. Higher education, for example, would be entirely free in Sanders' America. "In many countries in Europe, Germany for one, you go to college and the cost of college is zero," he told CNN. Sanders' education goals line up with those of his closest rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), who recently released a detailed proposal to cancel college debt. Billed as a boon for the little guy, that would mostly help…the well-off and well-connected.

When CNN's Anderson Cooper pressed Sanders on how he would pay for free college—along with the remainder of his expensive policy prescriptions—the candidate pivoted to tax reform.

"I suspect that a lot of people in this country would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had comprehensive health care as a human right," Sanders told Cooper. "There is a tradeoff, but at the end of the day, I think most people will believe they're going to be better off when their kids have educational opportunities without out-of-pocket expenses, when they have health care as a human right, when they have affordable housing, when they have decent retirement security. I think most Americans will understand that that is a good deal."

That deal, Sanders claimed, will provide the appropriate foil to "the forces of oligarchy and authoritarianism," which he says are furthered by "corporatist economics." But as Yascha Mounk, who is friendly toward certain sorts of socialism, points out in The Atlantic, Sanders' comments fail to grapple with "a different kind of oppression"—one where a smothered free market blocks its citizens from engaging in private enterprise.

Sanders' version of economic freedom is one where private insurers are barred from the health care market, where school choice is restricted in favor of zip code entitlements, and where the poor increasingly struggle to get a credit card. In other words, it isn't very free at all.

NEXT: San Francisco Developer Proposes Private Housing Project in 2014. City Delays For Years Before Deciding to Spend Millions Developing the Site Itself. Construction Might Start by 2022.

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  1. “I suspect that a lot of people in this country would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had comprehensive health care as a human right,”

    I know I’m preaching to the choir, but why pay taxes for health care when you can directly pay for it?

    1. Amen

    2. Maybe Sander can explain why the popularity of universal health care drops greatly when you throw in paid by taxes.

    3. Or why not drop all the restrictions on health insurance so providers can offer basic major medical coverage instead of forcing them to cover routine care and things you’ll never get?

    4. No one is ever honestly “delighted” to pay more in taxes no matter what you promise them in “exchange.”

      1. Yeah, I bring this up in nearly every conversation about taxes–if people genuinely want to buy the service, then they will pay for it themselves. You could argue over certain genuine public goods, but that does not cover the vast majority of what government does today.

        1. There is no government mandate for life insurance and, in reasonable amounts, it is dirt cheap.

          The same cannot be said for health or car insurance.

          1. +10

          2. You are not have to have car insurance unless you drive. That insurance is not for your own protection but for protection of the other car. I have driven cars with insurance to protect me as driver and the vehicle but did cove the other car and the people in it. Unlike auto insurance health insurance is for the protection of the person and dependents listed on the policy. If you drive only with liability and are the cause of an accident the insurance that you pay for pays for the repair of the other drivers car and for any injury to its passengers. Now if you have no health insurance and get sick you go the the emergency room at the hospital. The hospital cannot refuse to give service (which the tax payers have to pay) by law.

        2. My argument is that food is even more vital than health care or education so let’s start by making that ‘free.’ Then I ask “How much food will you carry out of a store when you don’t have to pay at the register?”

          1. Yeah man good one!!!

          2. The sensible rejoinder is that you won’t carry any out, since you know you can get whatever you want at the time you need it, and use it on the spot.

            1. But do you know that whatever you want when you need it? If even just a handful of people end up taking carloads of food then the stores will be empty, so therefore everyone will have to take as much as they can whenever they see something on the shelves

    5. why pay taxes for health care

      He could just put forth legislation to lower the 7% floor on healthcare deductions. But then we wouldn’t get to be delighted by the dog and pony show, would we?

      Although with Bernie, as with all socialists it ends up a Punch and Judy show.

      1. How about removing the corporate tax deduction for providing health insurance to employees and let individuals deduct it?Companies stop providing health insurance, employees *should* get that money in pay, and they can buy health insurance directly, if they wish.

        1. They should also be allowed to visit their veterinarian, or a bum under the bridge, for their health care, if they want to. It is THEIR body! Seriously!

          1. Don’t you remember that only women, or those who identify as women, have a right to control the use of their body.

        2. How about removing the corporate tax deduction for providing health insurance to employees and let individuals deduct it?

          John McCain, in one of the few right things he’s done, proposed exactly that a little over ten years ago now. He was pilloried by the left for wanting to take people’s healthcare away in a nefarious plot to kill the Poor.

        3. @SimpleRules,

          Do you know why we have employer provided heath insurance and other forms of indirect compensation (benefits)?

          Because of limits on direct compensation (wages) imposed by the US Federal Government during WWII.

          You think employer provided heath care is some sort of market failure we need the government to fix, but it’s not, it’s a government failure and you want to fix it with more government.

          1. How is he calling for more government? Taxing all compensation at the same rate and removing health insurance mandates doesn’t sound like more government to me and I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s suggesting.
            The wage controls were what started employer health insurance, and the tax benefits are why it has remained the norm.

    6. The government needs to tax you in order to redistribute your wealth.

    7. People like costs to be hidden. If it just gets taken out of their paychecks and they never actually see the money, it’s “free”. Then, of course, there are the many people who would get more out of it than they pay in taxes.
      I’d love to have directly paid for healthcare. If I had all the money employers have spent on health insurance for me that I barely used for 20 years, I’d have a very high deductible insurance policy and plenty in the bank to cover it and any smaller medical needs.

    8. It’s captured in the slogan, “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you!”

      Many people have a sense that “they” have all these resources they hide from “us”, including of course the car that runs on water. It’s the attitude lampooned in the song “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”.

    9. “I know I’m preaching to the choir, but why pay taxes for health care when you can directly pay for it?”

      Because the government can spend the money better than you can. If you think I am making this up, ask Mr. Sanders.

    10. Economic Freedom? Does he mean the government has the freedom to take your money as it chooses?

      I always thought with freedom came freedom of choice!

    11. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but why pay taxes for health care when you can directly pay for it?

      Sanders is running on political idea that people are economically stagnating because rich straight white male capitalists are hoarding all the money. He is promising to fix that by forcibly taking the money from the rich straight white male capitalists and redistributing it.

      Hitler ran on the same thing, replacing straight white males with Jews. Like fascists, Sanders started out as an actual class-based socialist, but found it politically expedient to switch to race-based divisions instead.

      So, Sanders is promising that you are not going to pay for it yourself, he is promising that he is just going to pay for it by violent theft.

  2. Democratic socialist, like liberal liberation, is an oxymoron worthy of Humpty Dumpty.

  3. “You have the freedom to operate within this caste that my ideology has slotted you in to. It may feel cramped at first, but when you’re expectations finally align to this new reality, you will find you’re much more free than you could have been”
    – INGSOC/American Politicians

  4. You’re free to keep as much of your money as the government allows, and free to hire workers so long as you follow all of the rules established by government for hiring and paying them.

  5. Freedom from, not freedom to…

  6. The most important aspect of economic freedom — indeed, the most important freedom of all — is the right of anyone on the planet to immigrate to the United States. Sanders isn’t my first choice, and I know he has criticized open borders in the past, but he’s still better than Orange Hitler on this issue.


    1. C’mon man. You can do better.

  7. Freedom to buy the 1 state approved brand of deodorant at the state store

    1. State approved, cheap, and sometimes stocked on the shelf in limited quantities.

    2. Freedom to have your Victory gin allowance to be increased from once a week to three times a month.

  8. Bernie, “economic freedom” does not mean “everything I want is free”.

  9. >>>”… would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had comprehensive health care as a human right”

    can a human right be purchased?

    1. Stormy Daniels says yes!

  10. Bill Gates is free to do a lot of things I am not free to do, therefore I am not free until somebody takes all of Bill Gates’ money and gives it to me. And everybody else should be as free as Bill Gates, so Bill Gates needs to get his ass back to work because he owes us about 15 quadrillion dollars.

  11. “a complete education,”

    WTF, is that supposed to mean, Bernie? Afraid to be honest and say: You will stay in school until the indoctrination is complete?

    The only reason that we are still discussing the merits of a failed economic model that lead to the death of 200 million souls in the last century is that the commies knew they had to play the long game in America where freedom is the inherent, not gifted by the state. So they infiltrated academia, kept their ideas to themselves for years until they got tenure, and then, like syphilis re-emerging to ravage the brain, proceeded to corrupt a whole generation of teachers and scientists who have dutifully passed the disease on to the next.

    Nobody needs much more than an 8th grade education for service or trade work. But Bernie knows that the state needs another 4-8 years to really root out and destroy the natural instinct to resist the force-feeding of doctrine.

    1. “WTF, is that supposed to mean, Bernie?”

      1 million people with PHDs in basket weaving and/or Identity Group Grievance Studies.

  12. Among other things, he called for a “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights” that guarantees “a decent job that pays a living wage,”

    That’s already a guarantee. Go out and get one. The government won’t stop you. Unless licensing is required or you have a criminal conviction.

    1. Then people will get a lawyer to sue a company for not hiring them. Who does that help out the most?

      1. Your right to a decent job doesn’t impose an obligation on another to provide it to you.

        1. ha. until the moment some elected dickhead decides it does.

          1. At that point it’s not a right, it’s an entitlement.

            1. to you and me those are different words.

    2. How could that right possibly be enforced? The living wage might be guaranteed, but how could a decent job always be conjured up? I suspect the meaning of “decent” would be very elastic.

      1. There’s nothing to enforce. Like I said upthread, the right to a decent job is not a guarantee that you’ll find one. Nobody has an obligation to provide you one.

  13. “[…]I think most people will believe they’re going to be better off when their kids have educational opportunities without out-of-pocket expenses[.]

    Exchanging “out of pocket” expenses for “out of paycheck” expenses is 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of another. Does he really think that Americans will be okay seeing their paychecks take a drastic cut for this so-called “free” healthcare?

    1. Exchanging “out of pocket” expenses for “out of paycheck” expenses is 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of another.

      Maybe even 6 of one, 12 of another.

    2. They think it will save them money due to eliminating insurance company jobs.

      1. Those jobs will simply pivot to “medical billing specialists”, and the former insurance companies will be doing the same thing they are now, except they won’t actually be paying for the care at the end of the day so they’ll have even LESS incentive to keep costs down.

    3. No, it won’t be 1 for 1, because there will be additional overhead costs to manage that and under Bernie’s plan, that management will be done by the government so that inefficiency in the overhead is maximized.

    4. It’s not, though. If I pay out of pocket, I have the freedom of choice. If I pay out of paycheck, by government mandate, that choice has been removed.

      I can’t vote with my dollars anymore, I can’t engage in the primary market-based solution to lowering health care costs.

    5. At some point the fact that the claim that it can all be paid for by taxing the super-rich will have to be revealed as a lie and I think you are right and people won’t like that very much.

  14. “Mammoth companies do, indeed, get all kinds of subsidies and other benefits from the government. And they shouldn’t.”

    So why spend the article talking about Sanders and Socialism. Why not talk getting a level playing field. That is what Sanders is talking about. We build a stadium for a billionaire team owner, we let corporation deduct CEO pay, we pay corporate farms subsidies. But what gets us mad, well things like health care for the poor, educating young people, and jobs paying a living wage. Want to stop socialism, fix capitalism.

    1. You come here a fair amount. Have you really not noticed the articles on sports stadium subsidies, farm subsidies, crony capitalism, licensing laws and vice crusades that primarily harm the poor?

      Can you link to all these articles where they bitch about welfare for the poor? Because it sounds like you’re more following a narrative than anything you’re actually observing in reality.

      1. Just did a article search for Reason site. Results:
        2277 articles on Socialism
        2121 articles on Medicare for All
        443 articles on Sport Stadiums
        852 articles on Crony Capitalism

        I think we still have a ways to go to get a level playing field for discussion.

        1. WTF dude. Are you really saying Reason needs to have a “level playing field” (stupid, inane lefty label that means about as much as “common-sense”, “reasonable restrictions”, “have a conversation”, etc.) of articles on socialism and cronyism (there’s no such thing as “crony capitalism” btw., it’s just cronyism) as defined by an exactly equal article count? You do know that socialism killed 100 million people the last century, right? But by your “level playing field” Reason should probably have exactly the same number of articles denouncing Monarchism.

          You, sir or madam (or xir), are not a person to be taken seriously.

          1. What I am saying is that Reason writes a large amount about the socialism. It laments peoples, particularly young peoples, attraction to socialism. What Reason fails to do is see that capitalism is failing people and that is causing people to look at socialism as an alternative. Hence my final line, “Want to stop socialism, fix capitalism.”

            1. How do property rights and the free movement of capital harm young people? I don’t think you actually know what capitalism is. Read some Rothbard and get back to us.

              1. The question here is not the definition of Capitalism, but rather how that is put into practice in the US. People, particularly young people, feel that capitalism as practiced is benefitting a limited number of people. We need to change the practice of capitalism in the US, to fix capitalism so it once again benefits the largest number.

                1. We need to “fix” capitalism because people currently don’t feel good about it? Where exactly does it say in the Constitution that it’s the government’s job to make sure citizens feel good about stuff?

                  And how would you “fix” it anyway, Captain Genius? (Something tells me you mean “fix” as in getting a dog “fixed”.) We already have a standard of living — provided by *capitalism* — that massively dwarfs that of people in any other time in history.

                  You’re really pushing Tony for the title of Least Insightful Troll.

        2. Nonsense. Every one of those sports stadiums has a level playing field.

    2. RetardedCommie4#Ever, is more like it.

  15. Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders Claims to Love ‘Economic Freedom’ . . .
    But he does not believe in equality! He does not believe that a person has the right to earn as much money as he has the ability and keep it. Bernie wants to in some cases take most of the money YOU earn and then GIVE it to someone who does not do what they need to do to earn money of their own. Now I do know that government does cost money and every body should pay their fair share. Even the church of the old testament had to turn in 10% of what they earn. I say this being on the lower end of the economic ladder. It is not government’s fault but my own. But I did work starting at about 10 on a farm with my mother and sister. We worked starting about sun up and worked most of the time or to 5PM other times. I also got into construction and and later as a chemical lab technician. I worked for well over 50 years all total. And during that time as an adult I never received any unearned entitlements or welfare.

  16. Integration by parts is a more productive approach. Ask any looter what constitutes coercion. Three’ll get you five the redistributor of assets goes into a paroxysm of glossolalia you can safely walk away from without being noticed for at least another hour.

  17. After 40 years of working , I retired and started collecting Soc Security . I also went on Medicare because there are no insurance companies that sell private health insurance to people in their 60’s . so what do I get from this government medical insurance program that I have paid into for decades . Is it free? Only Part A – hospitalization – the part I am least likely to use. Everything else I have to pay for . Part B – out patient medical services : Part D – Drugs. All of those require hefty premiums and still don’t cover everything. I wish I could get back the money I paid into this scam .

    1. FICA is a tax on current workers to pay for current retirees.

      You really dont pay “into” anything. Just like there is no such thing as a Social Security Trust Fund. Its a fantasy that trillions are sitting in banks managed by trustees.

      Its all a tax.

      It would have been way cheaper for taxes to be 50%+ lower all the years of your life and YOU would have had to get a any life insurance and any health insurance that you wanted, pay cash for minor medical stuff, and save for your own retirement.

  18. “If you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it’s free.”

  19. If only we could be economically free from having our money stolen by big brother without fear of violence and prison. But then, uncle Bernie wouldn’t be able to afford his next house on our dime, now would he?

  20. Bernie Sanders: There is no freedom without economic freedom.

    Oswald Mosley: Real freedom is economic freedom. (Question 9, “Fascism: 100 Questions Asked and Answered”)

  21. Sanders’ version of economic freedom is […]

    Sanders’ version of economic freedom is called “fascism”: his economic program is largely that of 1920’s German and Italian fascists, as are his visceral hatred of capitalism and his rhetoric. And like previous fascists, Sanders (and other Democrats) divide people up by race and believe minorities are too stupid to take care of themselves.

    The only thing surprising here is that the Reason editors are so historically ignorant.

  22. […] of course, has a long history of failing to grasp the basics of market economics. He frequently sees marketplace choices as a threat, even as they open avenues […]

  23. […] of course, has a long history of failing to grasp the basics of market economics. He frequently sees marketplace choices as a threat, even as they open avenues […]

  24. […] of course, has a long history of failing to grasp the basics of market economics. He frequently sees marketplace choices as a threat, even as they open avenues […]

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