There's a lot of hype over Bernie Sanders. Especially because he labels himself as a 'democratic socialist.' So, what would an America under Bernie Sanders really look like?
Let's start with the term democratic socialism. Most people seem to only hear the 'socialism' and forget that there is a 'democratic' in front of it. So, they think of Marxist socialism which, as Americans, we were taught leads to the dreaded communism. But democratic socialism is entirely different from Marxism.
So what is it? Let's take a trip to the Democratic Socialists of America Q&A page.
The most common question about socialism is: Doesn't socialism mean that the government will own everything?
"Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect...
Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible."
Huh? I guess that doesn't sound so bad. It's definitely not Marxism. So let's move onto Sanders' actual policies.
Two of his biggest proposals are free public university and a single-payer healthcare system.
Free public university speaks for itself. Anyone who wants to attend a public university in the US can do so for free. A college degree today is the equivalent of a high school diploma 50 years ago, so if you can't afford to go to college, your chances of getting a high paying job aren't too hot. Sounds like a good deal to me.
But what is a single-payer healthcare system? It's a "Medicare-for-all" system. All residents of the US would be covered for doctor visits, hospital care, dental, vision, prescription drugs and medical supply costs. There would be no premiums, no deductibles, and no co-pays, and the industry would not be for-profit as it currently is meaning that insurance rates would be as low as possible. So you pay your taxes and get any healthcare coverage you can possibly imagine. Sanders estimates this to save the average American over $5000 a year. That's not a bad deal if you ask me.
The US is the only major country in the world without paid parental leave, which Sanders intends to fix. So under Bernie Sanders, if you have a child, you won't have to hire a babysitter to watch and raise your newborn child while you go to work every day. Instead, you'll get paid time off to raise your child at one of the most crucial points of its life. Sanders also intends to improve childcare services altogether.
Something Sanders has been avid about lately is Free Trade. Free trade agreements have allowed businesses to move overseas to countries like Mexico where they can pay their employees 25 cents an hour compared to the $8.00 here. Sanders wants to put a stop to that and bring those businesses back to the US to create American jobs.
Sanders' platform goes on even further. He plans on raising the minimum wage. In 1974, the minimum wage was $1.45. That's equivalent to $15.08 today. Today's minimum wage is $7.25. That's equivalent to less than a dollar in 1974. It would have been illegal to pay someone that wage in 1974. Something's wrong with this picture.
He also wants to get money out of politics, reform the immigration system, reform the prison system, address pay inequality, and establish programs to care for our vets. To see his full platform, visit his website.
So, these programs sound great. They would improve the lives of Americans drastically. But who's paying for this? Here's a great chart explaining just that:
"But Bernie wants to tax the rich. That just means they're all going to leave and move somewhere with lower taxes."
Woah. Hold on there. Millionaire migration is actually a myth. Don't believe me? That's okay. Stanford released a study explaining how and why it is a myth. Check it out.
Did you know that there's also an organization called The Patriotic Millionaires composed of millionaires who are fighting to pay higher taxes?
OK, so he's going to tax the rich. What about the rest of us? Well, if we refer back to that nifty chart further up in the article, you'll notice he doesn't really mention much about raising taxes for the middle and lower classes. His tax plan is fairly simple:
Your taxes are not going to be 90% of your income. They're not going to be 50% of your income, unless you're making over $10,000,000 a year.
So, what would an America under Bernie Sanders really look like? All of the stuff is pretty cool, but that's the least of it.
The most valuable thing Bernie Sanders has brought to America is the reminder that grassroots movements are not dead. Whether he wins or not, he has started a political revolution. He has given the people a voice. And the people won't be silenced.