George Will has some uncomfortable home truths for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. (They apply just as much to Hillary Clinton's campaign as well, of course.)
Today’s Democratic Party is frozen, like a fly in amber, in the New Deal preoccupation — but with less excuse than Democrats had during the Great Depression. The party believes that economic inequality is an urgent problem, and that its urgency should be understood in terms of huge disparities of wealth. Neither proposition is (to use the term Jefferson used when he wrote equality into America’s catechism) a self-evident truth.
The fundamental producer of income inequality is freedom. Individuals have different aptitudes and attitudes. Not even universal free public education, even were it well done, could equalize the ability of individuals to add value to the economy. Besides, some people want to teach, others want to run hedge funds. In an open society, rewards are set not by political power but by impersonal market forces, the rewards of which will differ dramatically but usually predictably. Beyond freedom’s valuable fecundity in producing unequal social outcomes, four other facets of today’s America fuel inequality.
First, the entitlement state exists primarily to transfer wealth regressively, from the working-age population to the retired elderly who, after a lifetime of accumulation, are the wealthiest age cohort. Second, big, regulatory government inherently exacerbates inequality because it inevitably serves the strong — those sufficiently educated, affluent, articulate and confident to influence the administrative state’s myriad redistributive actions.
Third, seven years of ZIRP — zero-interest-rate policy — have not restored the economic dynamism essential for social mobility but have had the intended effect of driving liquidity into equities in search of high yields, thereby enriching the 10 percent of Americans who own approximately 80 percent of the directly owned stocks. Also, by making big government inexpensive, low interest rates exacerbate the political class’s perennial disposition toward deficit spending. And little of the 2016 federal budget’s $283 billion for debt service will flow to individuals earning less than the median income.
Fourth, family disintegration cripples the primary transmitter of social capital — the habits, mores, customs and dispositions necessary for seizing opportunities. When 72 percent of African American children and 53 percent of Hispanic children are born to unmarried women, and 40 percent of all births are to unmarried women, and a majority of all mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children, the consequences for the life chances, and lifetime earnings, of millions of children are enormous.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is doing well, if not good, by reducing the debate about equality to resentment of large fortunes. He should read Harry G. Frankfurt’s new book “On Inequality”. It is so short (89 pages) that even a peripatetic candidate can read it, and so lucid that he cannot miss its inconvenient point: “It is misguided to endorse economic egalitarianism as an authentic moral ideal.”
There's more at the link. It's well worth reading in full.
Matt Walsh, the conservative/religious gadfly, has his own perspective on the problem. Reviewing the first Democratic presidential candidate debate, he had this to say.
It’s comforting to project all our anger onto politicians. Lord knows, they deserve a fair amount of it. However, the difficult reality is this: America’s biggest problem is its citizens, not its politicians. Indeed, its politicians are a symptom, a reflection, of its people. They may manipulate and coerce and propagandize, but when it comes down to it, in a democratic system, if a bunch of lunatics and scoundrels are in power it’s because the people chose to put them there. The sickness originates, then, with the people. And the people’s sickness is rooted in the soul.
. . .
With the frazzled Muppet from Vermont leading the way, all of the candidates (except Jim Webb, who apparently stumbled into the wrong debate) spent the first several minutes complaining about “income inequality.” This was a theme they’d all return to incessantly throughout the evening, because there’s nothing more exhilarating than listening to old rich white people complain about old rich white people. Bernie Sanders lamented again and again that the “middle class is collapsing,” but never expressed any interest in seeing us poor middle class folk move up and out of the middle class. For Sanders and the rest of them, the “middle class” should be all we peons aspire to. Success and wealth ought to be solely possessed by the left wing ruling class. Wealth is evil, you see, so that’s why we should let our great and generous protectors carry the burden.
Middle Class! Inequality! Greed! Middle Class! Inequality! Greed! I can’t really blame them for shouting socialist catchwords all night. This is what their voters desire. They don’t desire capitalism, because capitalism means opportunity and freedom, and opportunity and freedom mean hard work. Economic freedom is so unpopular among liberals that Bernie Sanders openly disavowed it to the sound of roaring applause. Clinton was hesitant (for now) to fully label herself a socialist, so instead she said she’s a sorta-capitalist who thinks “capitalism has to be saved from itself.” This is another way of calling American people children who need to be rescued by benevolent bureaucrats, but that’s OK because Democrat voters fervently wish to be treated like children. They want their own failures and struggles in life to be the fault of “the rich” and they want a president who will magically make it better.
. . .
Naturally, nobody ever explained how a country with $18 trillion of debt and over $127 trillion of unfunded liability might manage to suddenly become Santa Claus for 320 million Americans and illegals. Indeed, along with “liberty,” the phrase “national debt” was never uttered. And if they weren’t going to explain how the government would start handing out full ride scholarships, paid vacations, “living wages,” and free medical care to every human being who happens to exist within our borders, they certainly wouldn’t attempt to explain why.
Again, more at the link, and also worth reading in full.
If any one of these bozos is elected to succeed President Obama, I suspect the New York Post's opinion that "America is due for a revolution" may come to pass, and sooner rather than later. One wonders whether any of the Democratic candidates have even heard of, let alone read, Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings". I suspect they need to read it . . . urgently.