In large part, America has been shielded by socialist type movements because of its strong and vigorous middle class. That is increasingly under threat, in part, because of surging student loan and consumer debt. The weakening or breakdown of the traditional family unit certainly plays a significant role too. All of these factors tend to create more dependency.
In the News & Observer, Brian Murphy, Will Doran, and Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan collaborated on a story titled, “‘Aligned with how radical I am.’ Students connect with Bernie Sanders over big plans.”
The story is well written and a good piece of journalism. However, it is what you might expect. Examples of students pining for more government programs and a desire to be cared for by the state. The word “free” pops up a lot in the article. In most instances pertaining to “free” tuition. Below is a little taste of the Bernie Sanders rally in Chapel Hill before he heads over to Greensboro:
The crowd, estimated at around 2,500 and filled with college students as expected, booed the mention of Biden, but cheered as Sanders worked through a list of issues he plans to tackle — like Medicare for All, climate change, equal pay for women, an increased minimum wage and, notably on the campus of the state’s flagship university, wiping out college debt and making college tuition free.
In speaking about the potential rise of socialism in America today, we’re not talking about government taking over the means of production and the overall distribution of goods and services. It’s more akin to democratic-socialism where voters willingly hand over more and more of their income and property for the purposes of empowering the centralized government. Presumably that power will be harnessed to level the paying field of the citizenry, most notably through more government social welfare programs and income redistribution.
A joint statement regarding the rally was released by the chairman of the UNC College Republicans and NC GOP Chairman Michael Whatley:
“The extreme socialist message pushed by mainstream Democrats like Bernie Sanders is nothing more than an attempt to bribe the American public with their own money,” they said. “College students and voters both know that free college, free healthcare, and other government handouts come at a cost: Our economy, your income, and the American Dream.”
It’s a good statement. And there isn’t much to add to it. However, we’re rapidly seeing an embrace of socialism amongst younger Americans and voters, particularly on college campuses. Problems like student debt, exacerbated by the federal student loan program, are largely created by government. Much of the healthcare expenses and problems today are the direct result of government regulation and mandates. The unintended consequences from government programs often results in more calls for government intervention. It’s a vicious cycle and one that politicians are quick to seize on to prop up their power structure and control over the citizenry.
Thomas Jefferson noted that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” It can get pretty depressing with presidential candidates and politicians running around making promises for “free” stuff. At the very least, it should insult your intelligence. It really just means removing the marketplace from the equation and forcing others to pay for it. Not to mention all the promises being made in the name of the federal government that is over $22 trillion in debt. Inevitably, it all adds up too mismanaged if not completely broken promises. My first job out of college was assisting with Veterans Affairs casework for a U.S. Congressman. I learned real quick it’s hard to trust a government to take care of your health care when they can’t even keep their promises to veterans.
Also, notice how none of the “free” stuff claims ever address the problem, which is cost, it merely shifts even more of the burden over to the taxpayers. Remember, politicians and government don’t create “free stuff” out of thin air but must take from the producers to fund their schemes.
In general, Americans have rejected extremist policies and ideology. Plundering other people’s property for “free stuff” will never end well—for anybody. Let’s hope there is a resurgence of love for history, families, civics, free markets, and civil society again, particularly with young people. Socialism is not inevitable, but neither is freedom. We all have the ability to sound the alarm against the kind of ideas that run counter to what made this country great and helped humans flourish in ways unmatched throughout world history.