For all his faults, Crazy Bernie at least was open and honest about his desire for socialism (unlike certain other candidates, who have hard-left platforms, but nonetheless are characterized as moderates).
But openness and honesty are not the same as common sense.
Consider, for instance, Crazy Bernie’s oft-stated assertion that we can afford big government because the United States is the richest nation in the history of the world.
There are two problems with what Bernie is saying.
First, we’re not actually the world’s richest nation.
To be fair, that doesn’t change the fact that the United States is a very prosperous nation. Especially compared to most other western countries.
But that brings us to the main point of today’s column.
Second, America is very prosperous because we haven’t followed Bernie’s recipe for bigger government.
That’s true today and it’s been true in the past. Compared to other nations, the U.S. historically has enjoyed very high scores for economic liberty.
Crazy Bernie and his supporters will argue that none of this matters. They’ll simply assert that the United States is a rich nation and therefore politicians should impose higher tax rates and fund bigger government.
But this ignores the fact that rich nations that adopt big government slowly but surely cease to be rich nations.
In other words, there’s a very challenging paradox for people like Bernie Sanders. They want a wealthy society so there’s lots of loot to redistribute, but their policies make it harder for societies to create wealth.
The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Even the nations that try to minimize the damage of big government, such as Denmark and Sweden, suffer gradual decline.
Which helps to explain why none of my friends on the left have ever been able to successfully answer my two-question challenge.