By: Matt Walsh – Senior, Criminal Justice
Over the past several months, the race has been building to see who will be elected president of the United States in 2016. Candidates from both parties have been campaigning for supporters. Although a lot of media coverage has been focused on people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, there is one man that has been gaining a lot of momentum and nearly beat Clinton in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.
This man is Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont.
He is well-known for having big rallies and his popularity among millennials. He talks about a “political revolution” and his popular ideas include a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition for public colleges and universal health care. Although Sanders may be one of the most genuine candidates from either party, he has some major flaws that should first be considered.
One of the main issues with Sanders is all of the “free” things he wants to provide to Americans. Namely, free health care and free tuition for public colleges. The United States debt is currently at $19 trillion. How can you justify spending billions of dollars on programs when we are already trillions of dollars in debt? This is the kind of thinking that put us this far in debt in the first place. We should be limiting our spending at this time, not adding to it. In addition, how can we expect to pay for these programs? Sanders wants to raise taxes on everyone, even the middle class, which he claims he is fighting for. If you have already paid off your student loans, this means you will be getting the bill twice. Once for your own education and then once for others to go to school.
Another issue is his frustration with Washington. I understand being frustrated with our politicians in Washington. Many of them are out of touch and do not seem to really care about the average citizen. However, the solution is not to make the government bigger and expand its power. Raising the minimum wage, giving free health care and giving free tuition is exactly the opposite of what we need. He says he stands for the middle class, but bigger government does not help the middle class. Small businesses may not be able to raise their wages to $15 an hour the way a large corporation like Walmart could.
Sanders also has a lot of anger toward the very wealthy in this country. On his website, he says there is something wrong with the fact that the top 1/10 of one percent owns almost as much as the bottom 90 percent. I agree—that seems unfair. However, his solutions are extremely flawed. He wants the business owners to stop sending jobs to China because millions of Americans are looking for work. However, businesses are sending jobs to China because they can pay lower wages there. Raising the minimum wage in the U.S. will just make it harder to keep jobs here.
He also states he doesn’t want businesses to hide their profits in the Cayman Islands or other tax havens. But, he wants to raise taxes on just about everything. As a business owner, these policies will only discourage people from doing business in the U.S.
So at what point does Sanders consider the income gap closed? As much as he campaigns on this issue, I have yet to see what he considers to be a reasonable income gap. As long as we live in a free society where people are free to get educated, pick a career and pursue their own interests, then people are going to have different amounts of wealth, and, therefore, will always be at least some income inequality.
The only way to truly rid the country of all income inequality is completely turn over our society to socialism and make sure everyone has exactly the same amount of everything. Sanders considers himself a Democratic Socialist. He often refers to socialist policies implemented in some European countries. I understand his desire to make this country a better place for everyone. But that is not the type of values and principles America was built on. We were built on principles like freedom and individual liberties. We were founded on the idea that government needed to be limited, not expanded. I understand Sanders’ attempt to fix some of our nation’s most difficult problems. But, many of his policies contradict those values and would hurt the U.S. more than they would help.