Monday, December 30, 2019

Bernie’s embrace of gun control endangers American liberty

With Bernie rising in the polls, getting closer to controlling our government, note how he has started to demand dangerous, anti-liberty gun control.

The website I Like Bernie, But... seeks to address concerns that voters might have about Bernie Sanders, and to assure them that his plans work, that he's electable, and that his vision his sound.  Previous posts on this blog have addressed the I Like Bernie take on his socialism (yes, he's a socialist, not a Democrat) and his tax and spend plans (which are great if you want to kill the economy).  This post takes on the I Like Bernie discussion about Bernie and guns.

The question asked at I Like Bernie is "Isn't he too weak on gun control?"  The I Like Bernie team then hastens to assure readers that no, he's not.  The Brady Campaign loves him and the NRA hates him.

The Progressive concern about Bernie and gun control arises because of Bernie's long-ago Second Amendment friendly votes on various gun control initiatives during his years in the Senate:

  • Voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. (Apr 2009) 
  • Voted YES on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers. (Oct 2005) 
  • Voted YES on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse. (Apr 2003)
  • Voted NO on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1. (Jun 1999)
As you can see, barring Bernie's "no" vote on decreasing waiting periods, that's a pretty gun supportive record, which is definitely off-putting to Progressives.  However, by 2013, Sanders was allying with the Progressive caucus on gun issues when he supported banning assault weapons and universal background checks. These votes left Second Amendment proponents dubious about Bernie's trustworthiness on gun rights.

It seems Sanders, for his part, ran afoul of the organization [NRA] in 1994, when he voted for a bill that would have banned 19 varieties of semiautomatic assault weapons. According to Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist, voting in favor of banning any kind of firearm is, in the eyes of the NRA, unredeemable. “Unless you vote the other way later on,” he adds.

Since the last election, though, Bernie has become only more strident when it comes to gun control, as he tries to beat back the Progressive fear that he was too soft on guns:

But since 2016, Sanders, who’s now running for the presidential nomination in 2020, has taken a different tack on guns. He’s reiterated the need to expand background checks and ban assault weapons. He’s pointed to his broader support for gun control, and co-sponsored several Senate gun violence bills. In public appearances and social media, he’s highlighted his own past remarks, going back to the late 1980s, in which he called for a ban on assault weapons.
 Sanders emphasized the issue in his campaign announcement speech: “I’m running for president because we must end the epidemic of gun violence in this country. We need to take on the NRA, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.”

For those wondering why Bernie's increasing urge to grab guns is a bad thing, let me explain.

An armed government aimed at a disarmed citizenry is a recipe for tyranny and death

Data proves irrefutably that citizens are never in greater danger than when their government is armed and they are not. To prove that point, this analysis looks at the world's most successful murderers over the last century or so. To do this, I break killers down into three categories:

  1. Non-government actors without guns,
  2.  Non-government actors with guns, and
  3.  Killer governments (acting with guns, of course)
The numbers may surprise you.

First, here are the facts about the worst mass murders committed by people or corporations acting without guns:

  1. The worst psychopathic individual mass murderer who killed without a gun: Gameel al-Batouti. On October 31, 1999, he cried out “Allahu Akbar” as he piloted a plane full of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 217 people. 
  2. The worst ideologically driven collective of mass murderers who killed without guns: The 19 al Qaeda members who, on September 11, 2001, used box cutters to hijack four planes, crashed three of those planes into three buildings and one plane into a field, killing 2,996 people in a matter of hours. 
  3. The worst corporate mass murderer without a gun: In December 1984, the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, accidentally released toxic gas from its facility, killing 3,787 people. 
CONCLUSION: When dedicated or negligent mass murderers use something other than guns, they’re able to achieve deaths that range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

Second, here is information about people or corporations that committed mass murder with guns:

  1. The worst psychopathic individual mass murderer who used a gun: Anders Behring Breivik who, on July 22, 2011, shot and killed 69 people in Norway – mostly teenagers. This rampage came after he’d already set off a bomb, killing 8 people. Norway has strict gun control. 
  2. The worst ideologically driven collective mass murderers who used guns: Given Islamists’ tendency to use all weapons available to shoot as many people as possible in as many countries as they can, this is a tough one to call. I believe, though, that the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 is the largest ideologically driven mass murder that relied solely on guns. Throughout the city of Mumbai, Islamic terrorists engaged in a coordinated attack that killed 154 people. The unbelievably bloody and shocking mall shooting that al Shabaab staged in Kenya killed only 63 people, and the Paris Massacre in November 2015 claimed only 130 lives. 
  3. The worst corporate mass murder using guns: I can’t find any corporation that slaughtered people with guns. To the extent that numerous workers died during 19th century labor disputes, those deaths occurred because state government, siding with management, sent out the state’s militia to disperse the strikers. For example, in November 1887, in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the state militia killed between 35 and 300 black sugar plantation strikers. The 20th and 21st century did not offer such examples. 
CONCLUSION: When individual killers or small groups of killers rely on guns, their effectiveness is limited, compared to those who use planes or bombs. In addition, corporations (outside of crazed Hollywood movies) drop out of the running entirely.

Before moving on to those entities that rack up the highest body counts with guns (that would be governments), let's summarize the above information and make a few additional points about murderous individuals with guns:  Individuals and corporations can and do kill. However, even when given optimal killing situations (e.g., acts of terrorism or corporate negligence), the numbers stay in the low thousands – and actually sink significantly lower when guns are involved.

Of course, there’s an obvious hole in the above data, and that's the most common gun-death situation in America: Small killing events (a murder here, a murder there), that over time result in a lot of dead bodies.  Believe it or not, though, those numbers (a) are not as bad as you think; (b) mostly fall, rather than rise, as legal gun ownership increases; and (c) are driven more by urban culture than gun ownership.

Let's start by adding up America’s annual murder statistics from 1960 through 2018.  Over that 58-year period, the total number of Americans killed was 1,019,167. (This number encompasses all murders, not just those with guns, but we’ll still use it as the most extreme illustration of Americans’ alleged propensity to violence.)

For those who like averages, that’s an average of 17,572 murders per year – which is, of course, a nonsensical number, because the data shows that murder rates are variably and always bear some relationship to America's growing population. (Regarding the variability, note the sudden spike in murder beginning in 2015, a date that coincides with the Black Lives Matter movement attacking policing.)

Just for fun, let’s pretend America had 17,572 murders per year every year since 1776, when she declared her independence from Britain. That’s a ludicrous notion, of course, given that America’s population was then only around 2.5 million, compared to today’s 330 million. Still, I’m going to extremes to make a point. If we multiple 17,572 by 243, we get a ridiculously high total American murder rate (by all methods, not just guns) of 4,269,996 over a 243 year span.

Ridiculous or not, I’m going with that 4,269,996 number because I want to make a point. As you'll see, 4,269,996 individual murders over 243 years is chump change compared to the numbers armed governments acting against disarmed citizens can kill in anything from a year to a decade. Here is the damning data showing what happens when armed governments are able to turn on their own citizens or engage in genocidal attacks against specifically selected religious, cultural, or racial groups – all of them unarmed and defenseless.

Turkey: In 1915, the Turkish government ordered and carried out the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.

Soviet Union: From the 1920s through mid-1930s, the Soviet government under Stalin declared war on the independent Ukrainian farmers known as Kulaks. Through government engineered starvation, deportation, and execution, enforced with Soviet gun power, the Soviets are estimated to have killed approximately 7 million Kulaks.

The Kulaks were just one group who died off in a specific mass killing. In fact, nobody really knows how many of its unarmed citizens the Soviet Union killed, whether using starvation, outright execution, or deadly penal colonies. Estimates range from 7 million to 20 million people dying due to the Soviet government’s policies and purges.

China in the 1960s through 1970s: When it comes to a government killing its own citizens, the Soviets were pikers compared to the Chinese. Current estimates for those who died during the Great Leap Forward due to government engineered famine, executions, and slave labor, range from between 23 million to 46 million unarmed Chinese. Some estimates (outliers, admittedly) posit even 50 million or more Chinese dying to appease Chairman Mao’s statist vision. (No pictures here, because China was then a closed system, much like North Korea today, and managed to hide what it did.)

 Nazi Germany, from 1933-1945: You knew I’d get to the Nazis, of course. Not satisfied with purging their own country of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and handicapped people, the Nazis conquered Europe from France to Poland to Denmark and embarked upon a purge in those countries too.

Without exception, the civilians that the Nazis targeted were already unarmed (voluntarily or involuntarily), losing their weapons either before the Nazis came to power (Jews in the Pale, the large area between Russia and Poland, were never allowed arms) or ended up disarmed when the Nazis achieved power.

With their pick of helpless victims, the Nazis killed 6,000,000 Jews; 250,000 gypsies; 220,000 homosexuals, and, through slave labor, executions, and starvation, as many as 10,000,000 Slavic people in just six years. (The number of handicapped people killed is unknown.) As an aside, when the Nazi gun-control gang got the bit in their teeth and went to war, the war itself resulted in the deaths of almost 20,000,000 European civilians who weren’t targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability but who were, instead, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Roundup in the Warsaw Ghetto
Nazi Death Squad executes Jewish civilian
Just one mass grave at Bergen Belsen

Cambodia: Following the Cambodian Civil War, Pol Pot rose to power in Cambodia. Once in power, in the years between 1975 and 1979, his government killed between 1.7 and 2.2 million of its own unarmed citizens, out of a population of around 8 million people. Were the U.S. to have a Pol Pot moment today, that would be the equivalent of having the federal government kill 66 million to 85 million people in four years.

 North Korea: Nobody knows how many North Koreans (none of whom are allowed arms) have died since the murderous Kim regime came into power. One estimate is that 1,293,000 North Koreans have died at their government’s hands. That number, of course, is entirely separate from the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans residing in concentration camps throughout that hellish little nation. We know something about what goes on those camps because of the small number who have escaped to tell the tale:

 The above are the government-engineered mass murders that spring most readily to my mind. I’ve obviously left out many that properly belong on the list, everything from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, to Cuba, to just about every tin-pot dictatorship in Africa and Latin America. So far as I know, we don’t have an official ISIS death toll but it’s easily in the high five figures.

If you would like a fuller look at the government-engineered mass murders in the 20th and 21st centuries, I recommend R. J. Rummel’s Statistics of Democide, which examines the kill rate of 214 regimes. I’ve picked my way through some of this opus and, even though Rummel’s writing is scholarly not scintillating, I was able to catch the depressing gist: governments kill and, given the chance, they kill often, in staggering numbers.

Think about this: Progressives are worried about leaving guns in the hands of individuals who can manage in a single incident, and only with spectacular effort or negligence, to kill people in fairly low numbers. At the same time, Progressives, who currently look to Bernie as their leader, desperately want to hand all weapons over to the government, leaving the population unarmed, despite compelling evidence showing that armed governments with an unarmed population at their mercy kill in the millions, with a few million dead here and another fifty million dead there.

Stalin spoke from personal experience when he said, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” It's fine to cry over the tragedies, but Progressives really should to direct their energy to avoiding the statistics. (And of course, there’s always the argument to be made that Bernie, who was alive during the post-WWII Soviet purges and gulags, the Maoist Great Leap Forward, and the Cambodian Killing Fields – all statist attacks on their own disarmed citizens – is untroubled by government mass murder.)

The Founding Fathers ratified the Second Amendment because they understood the dangers government poses.

Looking back at the American Revolution, it's easy to assume that the result -- an American victory -- was a foregone conclusion.  In fact, right up until the bitter end, the outcome could have gone either way.  After all, the colonists had taken up arms against the most powerful military in the world. Anyone placing bets in 1776 or 1778 would have been smart to wager against the revolutionaries.

Indeed, if the revolutionaries had lived in the home country of England, it’s likely that those placing bets against the revolution would have been correct. England, an old, stable culture that had weathered a devastating revolution slightly more than 100 years before, was not much given to having individual citizens bearing arms. (The American rebellion began in part because the British sought to disarm the colonists.)

It was only in the Americas, far from “civilization,” that guns were a necessity. One does not go into the frontier unarmed. Too many people had untamed forests pressing against their fragile communities to manage without at least one musket, rifle, or pistol in their possession, not just to hunt for food but to protect themselves from both human and animal predators.

Because of their circumstances, the American colonists didn’t just possess arms; they knew how to use them. While George Washington despaired of turning his volunteers into a well-drilled, spit-and-polish military, the one thing he didn’t have to worry about was weapons training. His rag-tag army knew how to load, aim, and shoot (especially those Tennessee mountain boys). If the Continental Congress could provide the bullets, many of the colonists willingly provided their own guns and know-how.

The Revolutionary war had been over for eight years when the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights. It was in that context – the aftermath of a small colony’s successful revolution against the most powerful nation in the world – that the Founders determined that American citizens would never again be subordinate to, rather than in control of, their government.

For this reason, the first ten amendments to the Constitution do not define government power; they limit it. And more importantly, they limit it, not by having the government graciously extend a few privileges to America’s citizens, privileges that the government can as easily revoke, but instead by stating rights that individuals automatically possess without regard to the government’s powers.

The second of these stated rights – and that only one which is dedicated exclusively to a single principle, rather than a blend of related principles – refers to every citizen’s inherent (not government-granted, but inherent) right to possess arms:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If the Second Amendment were written in modern English, the Founders might have phrased it this way:

The only way citizens can defend themselves against a tyrannical government is to create their own army (which, obviously, is separate from the government’s army). The people therefore have an overarching and innate right to have guns, and the government may not interfere with that right.

For those stuck on the phrase a “well regulated militia,” history irrefutably establishes that this does not mean that our Second Amendment rights exist only if each gun owner gets together with other gun owners on a regular basis to create an army, complete with drilling and officers and such-like. That is, back in 1791, when the Founders ratified the Second Amendment, they were not imagining an America dotted with "People's Armies." Instead, even though the federal government was small and weak, the Founders still worried that American citizens might in the future need to rebel against a government that had grown too powerful.

The revolutionaries' own experience had shown them that citizens don’t need to have a standing militia that is always ready to fight. Instead, the citizens must only have the ability to come together as a well-regulated militia on an "as needed" basis (the need being the necessity to secure individual freedom against government). This ability to transform from peaceful citizens into an effective militia when needed requires a citizenry that, on its own initiative, is both well-armed and competent with those arms.

What's important for us is that the Founders understood that every government has the potential to become tyrannical (although they couldn’t have predicted in their wildest dreams the mad scope of worldwide government killing in the 20th and 21st centuries). They therefore embedded in the Bill of Rights the ultimate barrier against tyranny: an armed population that, if needed, can instantly transform itself into a citizen army.

Yes, some of those armed citizens will do bad things with their guns, but even at their worst, they are insignificant killers compared to rogue governments. As a matter of principle, supported by data, an armed citizenry is safer than an unarmed one when it comes to the biggest, most blood-thirsty, most deadly predator known to man: Government.

Legal guns, in honest citizens' hands, are the best defense against race-based murder.

Every black person knows that there is one American subgroup that dies more from gunshots than any other group in America:  blacks, especially young black males:

According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with Whites 45.3% and "Other" 2.2%. The offending rate for African Americans was almost 8 times higher than Whites, and the victim rate 6 times higher. Most homicides were intraracial, with 84% of White victims killed by Whites, and 93% of African Americans victims were killed by African Americans.[49][50][51] In 2013, African Americans accounted for 52.2% of all murder arrests, with Whites 45.3% and Asians/Native Americans 2.5%. Of the above, 21.7% were Hispanic.[52][53] Blacks account for the majority of gun homicide victims/arrestees in the US while Whites account for the vast majority of non-gun homicide victims/arrestees. Of the gun murder victims in the United States between 2007-2016, 57% were black, 40.6% white (including Hispanic), 1.35% Asian, 0.98% unknown race and 0.48% Native American.
 Non-gun homicides represented about 30% of total murders in the time period. Blacks were still overrepresented although only by about 2.5x their share of the general population.[54] Of the non-gun murder victims in the United States between 2007-2016, 61.5% were white (including Hispanic), 32.9% black, 2.29% Asian, 1.89% unknown race and 1.43% Native American.[55]

Incidentally, if you remove black on black crimes from American gun-death statistics, America could be some peaceful European country when it comes to gun deaths.

Progressives respond to these tragic numbers by citing socio-economic factors and racism, and then demanding ever greater gun control and claiming that anyone who opposes gun control is a racist. Then, when they achieve that gun control (as they have in Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, etc.), they are perplexed that black youths die in ever greater numbers in the cities with the most gun control.  The only fix they can imagine is more gun control on an ever greater scale.

I'd like to suggest that the answer lies with the simply stated NRA principle that, “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Real-time data shows that, when law-abiding citizens in black communities are also armed, the bad guys quickly start slinking away. Basically, most human predators are lazy, cowardly opportunists and they will not attack if doing so is dangerous.

The following paragraph sounds like a non sequitur, but it's not. I'll explain in a minute.

In 1991, Americans killed each other in the greatest numbers ever: 24,700 Americans died that year at the hands of other Americans. Since then, the numbers have declined steadily. In 2011, only 14,661 Americans were murdered, a 40% crime drop that reverted America to murder numbers last seen in around 1969, when 14,760 Americans were murdered.  (There has been an uptick in urban murder rates in 2015, which may have had to do with police becoming passive in the face of the Black Lives Movement, but that's a subject for another post, with its own analysis.) As John Lott has pointed out with almost mind-numbing repetitiveness, what happened since 1991 and today is that law-abiding Americans armed themselves in ever greater numbers.

What do declining gun-crime statistics have to do with my claim that making it easier for law-abiding citizens to have legal guns is the opposite of being racist?  It’s simple: People who are not racist want blacks to live and thrive in safe environments -- and those environments are best created and sustained when the predators are kept at bay by armed, law-abiding citizens.

Incidentally, one of the things few people learn in school is that the Democrat party has always worked hard to keep guns from blacks.  This is true for the slave era, when Democrats were the slavery party; the post-Reconstruction era, when Democrats controlled the South; the Jim Crow era, when Democrats still controlled the South; and present day inner cities, which are Democrat-controlled and tragically crime-ridden.

Except for a few racist, Southern-Democrat chapters, the NRA has consistently fought against black disarmament, reasoning correctly that giving blacks guns would protect them against slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow generally, and predators inside and outside of their communities. (For more on the subject, read Ann Coulter’s article about gun rights and blacks, in which she summarizes with her usual √©lan the way in which the anti-black Southern hegemony worked hard to keep guns out of black hands in order to control and terrorize them more effectively.  You may hate Coulter, and you're within your rights to do so, but she's got the facts on this subject.)

To sum it up, if you're not a racist, you want American blacks to live and to thrive. They can do this only in safe communities and the safest black communities have always been those in which moral, law-abiding black citizens have been armed.

Safe communities are those with a strong moral compass and a lot of guns.

It’s tempting not to write anything here but, instead, simply to show the video of the would-be mass murderer entering a church in Texas yesterday only to be met instantly by armed citizens who ended his rampage after only two deaths, not dozens. The outcome would have been very different if the attendees had been trapped there, like fish in a barrel, while waiting the endless minutes for armed police to arrive:

The above video is not just a one-off. As I hope I’ve demonstrated above, an armed society is protected against its government, and armed moral, law-abiding citizens protect themselves from the predators amongst them. (This is why I strongly argue that American Jews to arm themselves.) Just look at England: Once it banned guns, it became a country with violent crime and murder rates consistent with South Africa’s – and that’s not something any civilized country wants to boast about.

The current Progressive political stance is to demand total disarmament because “one death is one too many.”  That is a naive and unrealistic demand that results in more deaths, rather than fewer.

Mankind’s civilized veneer is thin at best. Turn on the news or read a history book and you'll be reminded that human beings are infinitely creative when it comes to killing. If I felt so inclined, I could kill someone by coming upon them when they’re asleep and stabbing them repeatedly in the eyeball with a Bic pen. (Don’t worry; I’m not planning this but, rather, positing the possibility.) The gun’s invention added to man’s repertoire, but it didn’t change his inclination to kill.

What changed with guns is that guns evened things out, increasing ordinary people’s ability to defend against the predators among us. If a huge man gives every indication that he intends to use his ham-like hands and jackbooted feet to beat me to death, or that wicked knife to stab me to death, my best defense as a small woman is several gunshots fired off before he can close in on me. Likewise, an armed homeowner can stop the intruder at the door before a murder, rape, or robbery even has time to get started. (This video effectively makes that point.) And of course, it's a good government that worries about infringing to much on its armed citizens' freedoms.

Putting all guns in police hands is not the answer and that's true even if one ignores the fact that too many governments have a nasty habit of committing mass murder. For one thing, even nice neighborhood cops can get the bad idea that they’re “the King of the world” if they’re running around in tanks, armed to the teeth, while unarmed citizens meekly obey them.

In addition, unless the gun violence is part of a rolling dispute that takes place over a long period of time, cops usually get to the scene long after the mayhem is finished. Just review again the video, above, of the shooting in Texas, with the shooter gunned down in seconds. The NRA summed up this practical reality by saying “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Indeed, if you have a Hurricane Katrina situation, the police may be days, weeks, or months away.

Bad things happen. That’s life. But it’s certain that, on the whole, the best way for good people to defend themselves against bad people is for the good people to be armed.  And maybe I'm naive, but when I look at Americans, I believe that there are many more good people than predators.

This principle isn’t undermined by the stories that routinely appear about kids dying tragically from a gun accident at home. Just as the problem in World War II wasn’t the guns but was the Nazis, too often the problem in those homes isn’t the guns it’s the parents. These are the homes in which parents use drugs or too much alcohol around the children, the homes that don’t have smoke detectors, the homes with small children that nevertheless have unprotected access to swimming pools, and of course the homes in which parents don’t follow basic gun safety rules. Their kids are unsafe under any circumstances.

Additionally, sometimes freak accidents just happen, with or without guns. I remember in the 1980s, in Texas, a woman died instantly when she tripped in her living room and crashed into her old sliding glass door, which shattered into razor-like shards, one of which severed her aorta. Likewise, a wine glass killed a woman in a slow-moving golf cart accident a couple of years ago. There is no such thing as perfect safety.

Even factoring in crimes, carelessness, and chance, the reality is that people are most safe when they have a gun. It is the best means by which they can defend themselves against all predators: humans, animals, ideologues, and governments.

Those advocating gun control need to lie to promote their cause -- which should tell you that their cause is invalid.

When Progressives, from Bernie on down, demand push gun control, they do so using false data.  If you have to falsify data to support your position, you don’t have a case. It’s as simple as that.

As just one example, gun control supporters published a Google map purporting to show 74 gun murders at American schools since the Newtown shooting in December 2012.  Here's that map:

People who are afraid of guns find this map terrifying.  It obviously shows that our children aren't going to schools; they're going to shooting ranges -- and they're the targets.  The problem, of course, is that the map is based upon a lie, and the lie is that almost none of those little flags are school shootings of the type that terrify white, Progressives living in suburban communities. Except that's not true.

The [Washington] Post is admirably clear that the map includes both colleges and schools, that it counts “any instance in which a firearm was discharged within a school building or on school grounds,” and that the data isn’t “limited to mass shootings like Newtown.” This point has also been made forcefully by Charles C. Johnson, who yesterday looked into each of the 74 incidents and noted that not only did some of them not take place on campuses but that “fewer than 7 of the 74 school shootings listed by #Everytown are mass shootings,” that one or more probably didn’t happen at all, that at least one was actually a case of self-defense, and that 32 could be classified as “school shootings” only if we are to twist the meaning of the term beyond all recognition.

Why would gun-control advocates lie like this?  Simple. The facts don’t support the premise that America’s schools are being turned into daily bloodbaths because of armed and crazed students.  If you don't have those useful facts, you have to invent them.

Here’s another lie, one that President Obama made in a speech on June 10, 2014, after another headline about white people getting shot, President Obama said,
 We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens, and it happens now once a week. . . . I mean, our levels of gun violence are off the charts, there’s no advanced developed country on earth that would put up with this.

Obama added at another point in his speech that this level of killing is “becoming the norm.”

As I've demonstrated above, that's untrue, for America's violent crime -- gun and otherwise -- has been dropping since the 1990s. Indeed, we're nowhere near the top nation when it comes to violence (although our immigrants, both legal and illegal, from those countries with extravagant violent crime may affect America's own problems).

Obama's obsession with the apparent ubiquity of mass gun deaths in America  showed up again at the end of November 2015, after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three dead. He stated then that " I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings. This just doesn’t happen in other countries."  Obama had apparently forgotten that, just two weeks before, men armed with guns committed a mass shooting in Paris that killed 130 people.

Given President Obama's statements, it bears repeating here that, contrary to the sense that mass murder is omnipresent in America (a sense driven by the immediacy of internet news and the media’s own blood lust), right up until the uptick in murder after Black Lives Matter cowed police, America’s murder levels had declined, returning us to numbers last seen in 1969.  Even with the BLM uptick, one can still see that we’re not getting more violent, we’re getting significantly less violent.

And while we all learned in school that correlation isn’t causation, there’s compelling evidence from Western nations the world over, not to mention the individual American states, that violence goes down when legal gun ownership goes up, and that violence goes up when legal gun ownership goes down. That’s a pretty strong correlation/causation argument.

Let me reiterate the point I made at the beginning of this section: You know you’re right if your opponent’s only evidence is fraudulent.


To sum up, it's entirely possible that everything gun-control advocates have ever believed about guns and gun control is wrong. Even Bernie seemed to grasp that when he was still dreaming of overthrowing the American government rather than running itself.

Any honest gun rights supporter will freely concede that guns can be used for evil purposes. What those who seek to control guns refuse to admit, though, is that history and crime statistics establish with almost boring repetition that people are safer when they live in a moral, armed country.

When it comes to the killers, data shows that individuals with guns are always inefficient killers, while governments acting against unarmed citizens are massively efficient killers, often leaving tens of millions of dead bodies in their wake. Significantly, in the modern era, no government has attempted to go full-bore totalitarian when its citizens are armed.

When it comes to those defending themselves, communities that have more law-abiding citizens with guns than criminals with guns are safe communities, a reality that would most benefit black Americans.

The bottom line is one that will make Progressives feel uncomfortable, but that is nevertheless true:  Guns kill . . . and that’s a good thing. By doing so, they serve as a bulwark protecting individual citizens from predatory people and governments. That’s why individual citizens must strongly defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms, resisting all government efforts to grab their guns, something that would leave them vulnerable, not only to criminals and jihadists, but to the government itself.

If you’re a Progressive and any of this has resonated, perhaps you ought to rethink your support of candidates who promise to take away all privately owned guns (and that includes Bernie), leaving all guns solely in government hands, and give another look at Donald Trump who is the antithesis of a dictator.

And if you're asking how we know that Trump is not now and will not be a dictator, the  answer is simple: Trump believes that Americans should be armed, something that precludes his ever becoming a dictator. He knows that the vast majority of Americans are good people, who will not (and have not, given the 300 million privately owned guns already in existence) turn America into a giant shooting gallery, complete with human targets.  Sadly, those shooting galleries do exist in America, but they're confined to Democrat- and gun-controlled inner cities.

(You can see the other posts in this series here and here.)

(This post updates a post from February 2016.)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Bernie wants to raise taxes and it's going to hurt

The website I Like Bernie, But..., created in 2016 and updated for 2019, tries to calm people's fears about Bernie Sander's socialist extremism.  It states questions reflecting concerns that people might have about Bernie, and then provides pithy little answers refuting those fears.

In a previous post, I addressed the myriad falsehoods, omissions, and misconceptions in the website's assurance that Bernie isn't a dangerous socialist, he's a good socialist. This post addresses the misleading answer to a concern that "I heard he [Bernie] wants to raise taxes."

Here's what I Like Bernie, But.... has to say about Bernie and taxes:

 That's simply false. Here's the truth:

To fund his proposed $97.5 trillion in spending over the decade after his election, Bernie must tax everybody and tax them hard.  This is not a Republican viewpoint.  Back in 2016, when Bernie’s goals were less grandiose, Vox, a internet media outlet known for its strong Progressive orientation, examined Bernie’s plans and found them wanting.

Dylan Matthews imagined how the Tax Code would look if Bernie is allowed to go forward with his plans to socialize medicine; make college free for everyonerevamp America's infrastructure; have the government create jobs for young people, a ridiculous scheme that Milton Friedman destroys with a single question about spoonsexpand Social Security, a program that is already going broke and sucking vast amounts of money out of the federal budget; and a whole bunch of other, smaller programs. Before I get to his specific conclusions, though, let's talk about the bigger picture.

The first thing you need to understand, before we even get to the numbers, is that if you imposed a 100% tax rate on every single "rich" person in America (from the super-rich to the pretty darn comfortable), you might be able to fund Bernie's plans for a month or so.  Even if you followed  that up by then confiscating all the assets from these same "rich" people, you still wouldn't be able to pay for even a fraction of Bernie's plans.

Don't believe me?  Check out this video made when the Occupy Protesters started demanding that the 1% pay for everything. As you’ll see, Bernie’s demands can’t exist in the real world:

If you don't have time to watch this 9 minute video, you can get the same information from a clear and funny post entitled "Feed Your Family on $10 Billion a Day."  Whether you watch the video or read the post, you will learn more about actual money than you will if you spent weeks following Bernie around listening to his economically ignorant statements about money and wealth.

After watching the video or reading the post, you will know with absolute certainty that "the rich" cannot fund Bernie's grandiose plans.  That means that other people are going to be tapped for money -- and you might be surprised at how far down the economic food chain that tapping goes.  Let's go back to that Vox article (remember, this is a Progressive publication from 2016, when Bernie’s plans were slightly lower dollar), to see what even Left leaning out let has to say.

Matthews notes that Bernie likes to throw out big, conclusory answers when he's asked where the money will come from for his plans:
And for every plan, he's got an idea to pay for it. College? Slap a financial transactions tax on Wall Street. Infrastructure? Tax corporations on profits they earn abroad. Single-payer? Raise income and payroll taxes, and then a bunch of others too.
 While Sanders tends to portray these as separate ideas with separate financing, I thought it'd be worth adding them up and seeing what the tax code looks like with all of them. I looked specifically at his changes to personal income, payroll, and capital gains tax rates. 
What Matthews discovered when he "looked specifically" at Bernie's tax changes is that all Americans will need to pay more taxes -- often significantly more taxes from those who can least afford them -- to finance Bernie Sander's dream of a government that will provide everything for everybody.  For clarity's sake, Matthews leads with a graphic showing that everybody will be paying marginal increases on their taxes, whether they can afford it or not (and keep in mind that this graphic is from 2016, not 2019):


There's no doubt that those making more than $250,000 a year will bear the greatest burden under the new tax scheme: 
Most taxpayers would see a single-digit increase in their marginal tax rate. People with taxable income below $250,000 would see an 8.8 percentage point increase.
 But the very rich would see eye-popping increases in marginal rates: from 36.8 percent to 62 percent for people with taxable income between $250,000 and $413,350. The big change here is applying the Social Security payroll tax, which adds another 12.4 points.
 For the very richest Americans, with more than $10 million in taxable income, Sanders's proposal would produce a 77 percent marginal rate. That's not unprecedented — under Dwight Eisenhower, the top income tax rate was 91 percent — but it's higher than the top rate at any point since 1964. 
If you're wondering, there's a reason that America did away with those top rates back in 1964:  High top rates don't bring in more money.  The reality is that the rich are better than anyone at protecting their money from what they perceive as unreasonable income taxes.  They take it offshore, shelter it, hide it and, most importantly, refuse to invest it, leaving their wealth unavailable to the rest of the country for such useful things as business start-ups, employment, exploring innovative ideas, etc.

The clearest representation of the damage too-high taxes do to an economy is the "Laffer Curve," which Art Laffer came up with more than 40 years ago.  It's a simple premise:  If you make it too expensive for people to make money, they'll stop making money.  Here's a more comprehensive explanation
As drawn, the Laffer Curve shows that at a tax rate of 0%, the government would collect no tax revenue, just as it would collect no tax revenue at a tax rate of 100% because no one would be willing to work for an after-tax wage of zero. The reason for this is that tax rates have two effects on revenues: one is arithmetic, the other economic. The arithmetic effect is static, meaning that if rates are lowered, the tax revenues per dollar of tax base will be lowered by the amount of the decrease in the rate, and vice versa for increasing tax rates. In other words, this is what happens when a hypothetical 1% tax collects $1 million, so people assume that a 2% tax would collect $2 million… and a 5% tax would collect $5 million. Likewise, under the same scenario people would similarly assume that a .5% tax rate reduction would collect only $500,000. 
And here's a helpful visual: 

That's all very easy to say in theory, but how does the Laffer Curve really work in fact?  Well, it turns out that, when put to the test of real world economics, the Laffer Curve performs as predicted
Solid supporting evidence came during the Reagan years. President Ronald Reagan adopted the Laffer Curve message, telling Americans that when 70 to 80 cents of an extra dollar earned goes to the government, it’s understandable that people wonder: Why keep working? He recalled that as an actor in Hollywood, he would stop making movies in a given year once he hit Uncle Sam’s confiscatory tax rates.
 When Reagan left the White House in 1989, the highest tax rate had been slashed from 70 percent in 1981 to 28 percent. (Even liberal senators such as Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum voted for those low rates.) And contrary to the claims of voodoo, the government’s budget numbers show that tax receipts expanded from $517 billion in 1980 to $909 billion in 1988 — close to a 75 percent change (25 percent after inflation). Economist Larry Lindsey has documented from IRS data that tax collections from the rich surged much faster than that.
 Reagan’s tax policy, and the slaying of double-digit inflation rates, helped launch one of the longest and strongest periods of prosperity in American history. Between 1982 and 2000, the Dow Jones industrial average would surge to 11,000 from less than 800; the nation’s net worth would quadruple, to $44 trillion from $11 trillion; and the United States would produce nearly 40 million new jobs.
 Critics such as economist Paul Krugman object that rapid growth during the Reagan years was driven more by conventional Keynesian deficit spending than by reductions in tax rates. Except that 30 years later, President Obama would run deficits as a share of GDP twice as large as Reagan’s through traditional Keynesian spending programs, and the economy grew under Obama’s recovery only half as fast. 
And to give a current spin to the blessings of the Reagan economy, just look at what happened to the American economy under Trump’s tax reform: 
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its state-level jobs report today for the Month of November [2019], providing 23 months of employment information to track how the Tax Cut and Jobs Act may have shaped job growth trends across America. The results strongly suggest that the 27 low tax states (with average SALT deductions below $10,000 in 2016) are significantly outperforming the 23 high tax states and the District of Columbia (where filers claimed more than $10,000 in SALT deductions).
 From December 2017 to November 2019, the low tax states added nonfarm payrolls at a rate 93.8% greater than the high tax states. Nonfarm jobs include those in the government sector. Limiting the scope of job growth to the private sector, where small business owners’ decisions on when and where to grow their businesses are directed affected by the tax code, shows and even larger job creation advantage for the low tax states, with a 97.9% higher rate of job growth in the past 23 months. Capital-intensive manufacturing shows an even larger disparity, with the rate of manufacturing jobs growing 3.3% in the low tax states compared to 1.3% in the high tax states, a massive 151% disparity in favor of the low tax states. In the past 12 months, the difference in manufacturing job growth is an astounding 1,209% advantage in favor of the low tax states. This may be because manufacturing facilities take longer to get up and running than do other sectors such as retail, with the effect of the tax cut being slower to manifest in this sector.
 The table below shows the percentage of jobs added in three categories, nonfarm, private sector, and manufacturing over three time periods, since President Trump was sworn in in January 2017, since the passage of the tax cut in December 2017, and over the past 12 months. 

All of this boils down to a single point:  If Bernie's tax plan goes into effect, over time there will be less money available to the government, not more.  People will earn less, create less, innovate less, spend less, and invest less.  It just won't be worth it.

For the first year or two of the new, higher tax rates, the rates will look successful because they'll sweep in money already created through investing, earning, innovation, etc.  After that, though, the tax revenues will slide steadily as the economy becomes more and more sluggish.

I assume that, at this point, some people will point out that the real benefit of Trump’s economy is only for those rich enough to invest in the booming stock market. That’s not true, and you can see why if you compare the Trump economy to the Obama economy.

During the Obama years, it's true that the stock market did grow. However, if you were really paying attention, you might have noticed that the boom was entirely unrelated to job creation and other signs of a thriving economy.

What's happened is that, in a high regulation, high tax, unstable environment, the rich, rather than investing (and risking) their money in job and wealth creation, were just storing it in the stock market, waiting for a sign that investment will be less risky.  For everyone else -- that is, for businesses and their employees -- stagnation was the name of the game, whether in the number of jobs available or in the salaries people could earn.

Compare this to Trump’s low tax and fewer regulations economy, and you can see that the stock market rise has been accompanied by rising wages and more available jobs. Most importantly, the greatest wage benefit from Trump's economy has flowed to the lowest wage earners -- that is, it's not just the stock market investors making bank.

If we were to reverse the Trump gains and embrace Bernie's proposed capital gains tax (going from an already high, compared to Europe, rate of 23.8% to a new high of 64.2% at the very top), most investment would stop altogether.

Again, don't believe me (a conservative); believe Vox, a Progressive publication: 
The Sanders campaign estimates they'll earn $92 billion a year from taxing capital gains the same as wages. But there's reason to think they'll actually lose revenue.
 One thing that happens when you increase the capital gains rate is that people stop selling assets — and thus realizing gains on capital that can be taxed — as frequently. That means there's a point beyond which raising the capital gains tax would reduce sales so much that revenue actually falls.
 Note that this is a very different question from whether taxing capital gains at a high rate hurts economic growth. Many economists think it does, but that effect would reduce revenue by lowering the price at which assets are sold, not making them less likely to be sold in the first place. The latter is a different effect whose existence is much less controversial. 
By the way, if you're tired of hypotheticals and what to see what it looks like in places where Bernie's financial plans have already been put into effect, look around the world:  In the years after World War II, Europe looked like a strong economy that also managed to be socialist. What this ignored was that (a) Europeans were having babies to repopulate after World War II; (b) America paid for Europe to rebuild its infrastructure; and (c) America paid for most of Europe's defense costs. Going into the 21st century, though, Europe had a declining birth rate, the infrastructure benefit had gone away with time; and, with the end of the Cold War, America stopped pouring so much money into European defense and the European economy.

So it is that, in the 21st century, most of Europe is having economic problems thanks to the withdrawal of American Cold War funding, the 2008 recession, the dramatic drop in birth rates, and the influx of immigrants who drew on the system without funding it, all of which made it impossible for European countries to continue what was essential a Ponzi scheme, whereby they kept taxing the up-and-coming generation of workers to pay for the perks accorded older people. Add to this hyper-regulation from the EU, which makes conducting business very difficult, and you can see why Europe's system isn't so admirable anymore.

An even better example of what happens when you implement Bernie's tax policies is Venezuela, which had such a rapid decline after socialization that you can see the Bernie-style problems playing out before your eyes.  Venezuela implemented Bernie's socialism a few years ago and went from being one of the most prosperous Latin American nations (thanks to oil revenue) to being flat-out broke, with shortages of everything from food to toilet paper to (ironically) oil.

Government manages money very badly.  When you have your own money, you presumably worked hard for it and depend a great deal on it. You'll therefore be careful with it, and quite possibly want to do things that make you earn more of it.

Government is different.  The government bureaucrats who are making decisions about and spending your money didn't earn that money.  They won't be affected if they spend it unwisely.

Worse, when they run out of your money thanks to unwise management, these bureaucrats don’t have to do what ordinary people do, which is either to cut spending or work even harder to pay bills. Instead, they just have to demand more from you, since they have the vast punitive power of the government at their back to take that money from you.  (Robin Hood, incidentally, didn't steal from the rich; he stole from the tax collectors, and gave the money back to the taxpayers.)

And one final point about those government bureaucrats:  As a friend reminded me, F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom makes the point that it doesn't matter how good, honest, and caring the manager is.  There is simply no way for one person or government department to accumulate enough knowledge about what's going on in the economy for that person or department to make good decisions.

Even with powerful computers and all the technology of the 21st Century, the knowledge needed to make smart economic decisions is so diffused through the country and the population that shortages WILL occur....and then the attempt to deal with them will make things worse, and so on and on, ad infinitum.

Here's the bottom line:  Governments do not create wealth.  The only way they get money is to take it from people who have earned it.  They then hand that money out to favored constituencies, picking winners and losers as they go.  Invariably, because government is slow, inefficient, and cares more about reward friends and punishing enemies than profits and losses, the money dribbles away, having enriched a few and impoverished many.

At the end of the day when the government takes it upon itself to be the money manager -- to suck up everyone's wealth through constantly increasing taxes, and then itself to run the businesses and make the calls -- everyone ends up poorer.  Just ask the people in Venezuela.

(You can find the first post in this series, about why it's a bad thing that Bernie is a socialist, at Bookworm Room or at I Don't Like Bernie, Because.)

(This post updates a post from February 2016.)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Isn't Bernie a socialist? Why, yes, he is and that's bad.

Contrary to the promise in a pro-Bernie website that socialism is great, it's not: It destroys economies and makes people prisoners of their own government.

The website I Like Bernie, But..., which was created in 2016 and has been updated for 2019, takes it upon itself to answer concerned readers who ask "Isn't Bernie a socialist?" It assures these people that Bernie isn't a socialist socialist. Instead, he's a democratic socialist, which the website promises is something entirely different:

The above conclusions are just wrong, and they're so very wrong that they need to be corrected and explained in a lot of paragraphs.  Here goes:

To begin with, you need to understand what it really means to be a socialist.  Only then can you understand that putting the word "democratic" in front of "socialist" doesn't change anything.

So, what is a "socialist" system?  Think of the realm of available politics as a line moving from left to right.  On the far left side are totalitarian regimes, which means government has all the control and the people have none.  At the far right side is anarchy, which means there is no government at all, although the resulting chaos usually means that people have no control either.  (Ironically, anarchy usually ends when a strong man takes over and creates a totalitarian regime.)

All political systems fall somewhere along that line.  The further to the Left they are, the more likely it is that power is centralized, and the further to the Right they are, the more likely it is that there is minimal centralized power, leaving more power with individuals.

Socialism, by definition, is a system that vests power in the government.  The government owns or exercises control over all of the means of production, as well as all of the things produced.  All people work under government control and all goods and services are handed out pursuant to government mandate.

Theoretically, in a socialist country, the people and the government are one and the same. The reality, though, is that you can't have millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of people in management.

What actually happens, therefore, is that all power resides in a tightly-controlled government group that makes all decisions about everything.  It decides what the country as a whole will build, produce, sell, etc.  As part of this, the government has to control every aspect of citizens' lives, in order to make sure that its social and economic goals are met.

Over the last 100 years, socialism has taken on many guises, from hard to soft.  In today's world, North Korea, which vests all power in one member of one ruling family, is socialism's most extreme face.  We know that hundreds of thousands of people who have displeased the regime live in concentration camps where those who survive work as slaves.

A small percentage of those North Korean citizens who are connected to the ruling party live good lives, with food, shelter, and other creature comforts.  The military is heavily supported, because socialist dictatorships are paranoid.  But for everyone else -- well, famine is a common occurrence in North Korea because, as you'll see repeatedly in socialist countries, government types are horrible economic managers.

The government also fears its citizens (because it treats them so badly), so the government spies upon them constantly and punishes them brutally for even the smallest infractions.  When you concentrate all power in one entity -- that is, all police and military power -- you're going to have an entity that can do a great deal of harm, both at home and abroad.

The former Soviet Union wasn't much better back in the day than North Korea is now.  In its heyday, the Soviet politburo controlled every aspect of people's lives.  During the 1930s, when Stalin headed the nation, he decided that the Kulaks in Ukraine, who were small farmers with privately owned farms, had to be destroyed to make way for large collective farms run under government control.

When the Kulaks refused to cooperate with Stalin's grand plan, he used his vast government power to steal their grain and starved them to death.  Millions died.

During the 1950s through the 1980s, China had the same repressive government as North Korea and the Soviet Union.  During the 1960s, when Chairman Mao announced his Great Leap Forward, which was intended to take China from a medieval economy to a modern one in around five years, tens of millions of people died because of starvation, torture, slave labor, and execution.  Low estimates say that 40-50 million died.  High estimates say that as many as 75-100 million died. (Because China was such a tightly closed society, there are really no photographs.)

Even today, the Chinese communist government is utterly cavalier about individual rights. It arrests and jails journalists; imprisons millions of Muslims, using them as slave labor and raping the women; harvests organs from prisoners for profit; uses slave labor to help drive the Chinese economy; and is using bullets to destroy the efforts Hong Kong’s citizens are making to preserve their democratic institutions (something the Chinese government promised to protect when it took over Hong Kong’s governance in 1997).

The Nazis, whom everyone today accuses of being on the "right," were also socialists -- that is, people from the, totalitarian, Left side of that political spectrum you see above.  The Nazi party's full name was the "National Socialist German Workers' Party."  Where Nazi Germany differed from a hardcore communist country like the Soviet Union, China, or North Korea, was that the government didn't take over all the businesses and homes.  Instead, it allowed businesses and homes to stay in private hands -- as long as the government made all economic decisions and controlled all aspects of people’s lives.

The socialist system the Nazi used is called “fascism.” The first fascist government was in Italy, under Benito Mussolini, back in the 1920s. Mussolini defined socialist fascism this way: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Today, people think fascism is not related to socialism or communism because Hitler ended up going to war against the Soviet Union. Thus, people reason that, if communism is “left” and Hitler went to war against the communists, than fascism must be “right” and “right-wing” politics must therefore be bad. The reality is quite different.

Hitler hated communism, not because it was the complete opposite of his fascism socialism, but because it was too similar. The fight between communism and fascism, both of which were children of socialism, was like a sibling rivalry within the same family. The important point is to  note that both systems were agreed upon one thing: The government should be in total charge of all aspects of the economy and should completely control people’s decisions and their lives.

Because the Nazi’s socialist system meant that, despite private property, the government was running things, people had no choice but to go along with the program.  Those who didn't were imprisoned or killed.  While there’s nothing wrong with love of country (i.e., “nationalism”), if you add nationalism to fascism, and then blend in anti-Semitism and the Nietzschean idea of a “master race,” all of which is presided over by a crazed megalomaniac . . . well, you suddenly have a government engine primed to think it's entitled to and can achieve world domination. Additionally, because socialist governments are lousy economic managers, eventually they always have to look over their border to other people's wealth and labor to survive.

Modern Europe has been the softest side of socialism – it’s like Nazism without the toxic master race idea and the quest for world domination.  European countries have let people have their own businesses and homes but have kept tight control over services such as health care, railways, and heavy industry (coal mining, steel production). They also bury their citizens under regulations.  Every single aspect of life in a modern European socialist country is regulated.

For a long time, Europeans thought they'd found the perfect solution with this "loving" socialism.  Their citizens could run their own businesses and make money, so they had some economic growth.  In addition, in exchange for extremely high taxes, the citizens got "free" medical care (which they'd prepaid with their taxes), low-cost train and bus fares, and good elder care.  It all looked so beautiful in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. That mid- to late-20th century vision of European socialism is what so many of today's American Democrats, Progressives, and Democratic Socialists believe they can bring to America.

What the Europeans conveniently forgot, and what Americans have never thought about is, is that after World War II, it was American money that rebuilt their infrastructure.  This meant that Europeans didn't have to repay capital investments. Their capital infrastructure was delivered to them intact and ready to go thanks to American money.

Europeans also liked to ignore that, during the entirety of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, America paid Europe's defense costs.  That allowed them to spend their own tax revenues on the "free" medical care and cheap train fare that Europeans love to boast about as a sign of their superiority.  To this day, no European nation boasting about its “socialized” or “single payer” medicine will acknowledge that European countries never had "free" medical care -- they had American-funded medical care.

Maggie Thatcher, who was the conservative Prime Minister in England during the 1980s, famously said "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money."  In Europe, American money started vanishing when the Cold War ended. Not only did American money start drying up in the 1990s, Europe found itself with a few other problems when it came to maintaining its "friendly" socialism:

(1) Its population began to age. People in socialist countries tend to have fewer children. In Europe, fertility rates are below population replacement rates. The aging population was draining the social welfare system, because they needed medical and elder care, and there were fewer young people to create wealth to sustain that same system, a problem that continues today.

(2) The 2008 recession affected the entire world's money supply, decreasing drastically the wealth in Europe. Europe still has not recovered economically.

(3) Europe invited in millions of immigrants who were not on board with the social compact that controlled European socialism. In the years after WWII, Europeans collectively understood that, if everyone worked when young, then everyone would be cared for when sick or old (at least as long as the Americans took care of the defense bill).  The problem was/is that the new immigrants, primarily from Africa and the Middle East, didn't sign onto this compact.  They came, got welfare, and stayed on welfare, letting the Europeans work for them. Again, this is an ongoing European problem, especially given the huge influx of Middle Eastern and African refugees who started to arrive in 2015.

European socialism is in big trouble now that money is tight, the population is old, and the immigrants are continuing to pour in, taking without first having given.

By the way, the semi-socialist programs we Americans have, such as Medicare or Social Security, are also running on empty.  The younger generation is just barely paying enough in taxes to keep those programs funding old people.  By the time that the generation that's paying for Medicare and Social Security now ages up to those programs, the best estimate is that there won't be anything left for them.  As Thatcher knew, government always is a remarkably poor money manager.

Another example of homegrown socialism's failures is minimum wage laws. These laws mean that the government, rather than the marketplace, sets wages. Even the New York Times once understood that the minimum wage is a way to keep unskilled labor out of the job market entirely.  Rather than paying every worker a living wage, minimum wage laws mean that businesses have to cut back on workers or end up shutting down entirely.

Just recently, a Progressive woman in Seattle wrote that, because of the city’s minimum wage laws, she had lost her job:
This city’s minimum wage is rising to $16.39 an hour on Jan. 1. Instead of receiving a bigger paycheck, I’m left without any pay at all due to the policy change. That’s because the restaurant where I’ve worked for six years is closing as a consequence of the city’s harmful minimum-wage experiment. 
I work for Tom Douglas, one of the best-known restaurateurs in Seattle. Mr. Douglas is in many ways responsible for the city’s reputation as a foodie paradise, and he recently celebrated his 30th anniversary in business. He’s a great boss, and his employees tend to stay at the company for a long time. 
But being an established chef and a good employer doesn’t save you from the burden of a sharp minimum-wage increase, up 73% from $9.47 in 2015. For large-scale employers like Mr. Douglas, there’s no separate rate for workers who earn tips. In Washington and a handful of other states, tips aren’t counted as income earned on the job. That means restaurateurs are expected to pay servers like me the full minimum wage in addition to our considerable tip income. 
When rent is too high, labor costs too much, and customers don’t want to pay $40 for a roast-chicken entree, the only way for many operators to ease the pain is to close. 
Things aren't go well in California either. That state put in place another wage control law that was supposed to help people – only to have the opposite happen. People who freelance don’t belong to unions – and California has had a lot of freelancers, most notably driving for Uber and Lyft. Unions therefore put pressure on the California legislature to change things. The unions obviously didn’t crudely phrase this as a demand for more unions workers. Instead, they, and the politicians who support the union plans, assured everyone that they were doing it for altruism, to make sure that workers got paid good wages and had good benefits.

To that end, in 2019 California passed AB5, which, among other things, says that freelance writers cannot submit more than 35 pieces of writing in a year to a single publication. This was supposed to spare these writers, many of whom are women caring for children or sick people, from being exploited. But because government bows to interest groups, it seldom understands the marketplace and individual needs. The law, which goes into effect in 2020, will ruin people financially:
The bill's pending implementation has wreaked havoc on publications that rely heavily on California freelancers. Just last week, Vox Media announced it will not be renewing the contracts of around 200 journalists who write for the sports website SB Nation. Instead, the company will replace many of those contractors with 20 part-time and full-time employees. Rev, which provides transcription services, and Scripted, which connects freelance copywriters with people who need their services, also notified their California contractors that they would no longer give them work. 
"Companies can simply blacklist California writers and work with writers in other states, and that's exactly what's happening," Alisha Grauso, an entertainment journalist and the co-leader of California Freelance Writers United (CAFWU), tells Reason. "I don't blame them." 
"I've been able to earn nearly three times the amount I did working a day job, doing what I absolutely love, and having more to volunteer and spend time with loved ones," wrote Jackie Lam, a financial journalist. Kelly Butler, a freelance copywriter, echoed those sentiments. "Thousands of CA female freelancer writers, single moms, minorities, stand to lose their livelihood due to this bill," she said. "I was told by a client because I live in CA they can't use me. I made $20K from them this year." 
The Bill’s sponsor, secure in her theory and uninterested in the reality of people’s lives, has no sympathy for those who suffer because of the new law:
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the architect of AB5, has heard these stories. "I'm sure some legit freelancers lost substantial income," she tweeted in the wake of Vox's announcement, "and I empathize with that especially this time of year. But Vox is a vulture." 
"These were never good jobs," Gonzalez said earlier this month. "No one has ever suggested that, even freelancers." 
When you’ve got theory on your side, who needs facts, even if those facts are real people?

Gonzalez is the face of the same socialism that Bernie is promising for America: It puts power in the hands of poor managers who too often abuse that power.  A government-managed economy is a lousy system that has failed everywhere it's been tried, whether we're talking about the Soviet Union, China (which is now trying a weird controlled "market" economy), Cuba, North Korea, Europe, or any other failed socialist experiment in Africa and Latin America.

And what about the "Democratic" part in that phrase “Democratic Socialism”?  Doesn't that mean we'll get only as much socialism as people allow, and that America will never have a government continuously hungry for more control over people's lives? Well, here's the sad truth -- that word is meaningless.

"Democratic" means that citizens get to vote for their leadership, but it doesn't say anything about the political system itself.  China styles itself the "People's Democratic Republic of China," but no one looks at it and thinks "Wow, that's a free country because it's got the word 'Democratic' in its name."

North Korea, the most repressive country in the world, has as its official name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Again, as in China, people in North Korea don't have a right to vote, meaning that it's a voluntary activity; instead, they are required to vote, or else, and they'd better vote for the people their government has already handpicked as the winners.

During the Soviet Union's heyday, that nation always liked to boast that it was more "democratic" than America because it had a higher voter turnout on election day.  Somehow it never mentioned that a person who failed to vote could end up in prison or that, when voters showed up, they had about the same number of candidate choices as they had food choices as the grocery store . . . which is to say, none.

Here's one other thing you ought to know:  Up until 2016, Bernie had never been shy about being called a just a plain, hard-core socialist.  After all, this is a man who happily honeymooned in the Soviet Union, when it was one of the most repressive countries in the world. It was only in 2015, when he started succeeding in the Democrat primaries that he and his supporters began to try to whitewash that "socialist" label.

Never forget, though, that any type of socialist, no matter how they try to dress up their socialism, ends up on the Left side of that line I showed you above – the authoritarian side, the side on which the government gets to control everything and the individual citizens find that they have fewer and fewer rights and experience greater and greater fears about their own government.

But what about the other side of that line . . . the Right side? Isn't that evil too? No. Just no.

Young people are constantly told that the “right” is bad, but that’s just something communists made up. After World War II, when the Nazis were the most evil thing on earth, Communists in Western countries went around teaching that, because they’re good and they’re Left, any ideology that stands against them, whether its Nazism (itself a form of socialism) or a true liberal democracy, must therefore be bad and therefore “Right.”

Here’s the truth: On the right side of that political line in the chart at the top of this post, as long as you don't stray too far into anarchy, you're safe from authoritarianism. That is, you're safe from a system in which a government, or a government working with powerful private interests, controls you. Instead, you have small government and individual liberty.

In a government on the right side of the spectrum, people get to decide what they want to do with their lives.  They get to try to invent, build, serve, work, play, and anything else they please as long as they don't harm others.  They get to buy and sell what they like when they want to.  Because they are allowed to own their own homes and cars and businesses, they have a stake in the success of each of those endeavors, and they work hard to achieve that success.

A free marketplace isn't controlled by a government that calls all the shots.  It's controlled by every person, with all these people organically combining their skills, knowledge, desires, energy, and ambition to create the most prosperous economic engine in the world.  And if you think that's a bad thing, think again.  Thanks to market-driven First World capitalist energy, people live longer, healthier lives than ever before.  Even poor people in America are rich and successful compared to poor people anywhere else in the world.

Here's a good summation of America's virtues, for rich and poor alike, back from the 1960s, when the hippies thought they knew it all:

Oh!  One other thing:  For those concerned about wealth inequality, totalitarian societies have no social mobility and extraordinary wealth inequality.  Whether the society is a monarchy, aristocracy, military junta, or a socialist "paradise," people are either in the ruling party/class or they're not.  Those with power and wealth hold on to it tightly and scatter just enough food, money, and medical care to the masses to prevent a bloody uprising.

In a market economy, though, not only does a rising tide lift all boats, wealth constantly moves around.  Yesterday's immigrant may be today's innovator.  And that rich grandfather might have seen his son waste all the money and his grandchildren become quite poor.

If you figure out how to use the internet well, you may get rich.  On the other hand, if you decide to spend your time smoking pot and playing computer games, you'll probably be poor (and burn through whatever money Mom and Dad left you in their wills).

People who make smart choices can rise up; those who don't . . . well, life can be hard.  But I'd rather live in a world that offers the possibility of success as opposed to a world that keeps everyone firmly down in the mud.

I don't like Bernie because he is a socialist and that's a bad thing in all places, at all times.

(This is an updated version of a blog post I first created in February 2016.)