Saturday, February 29, 2020

Seizing The Means Of Production

As Bernie Sanders gains momentum heading toward Super Tuesday, where he can potentially pick up enough delegates to gain an insurmountable lead, his rivals are attacking him for being too radical, too far to the Left. Apparently they don't know their own primary base. Anyhoo, a common criticism of Bernie's plans is that the math doesn't add up. He talks about spending tens of trillions in new spending but hasn't been able to answer the question of where this money is coming from, other than "the rich (excluding Bernie of course)". These attacks are starting to heat up so to his credit Bernie's campaign released a fairly extensive list of what he plans to do once in office, how much it will cost (wildly underestimated) and how he will pay for it. His plan is mostly fueled by rainbow-hued unicorn flatulence but at least he got specific for a change.

His plan to pay for all of his new spending can be found here. It is a sweeping and rather startling plan that in one fell swoop would place an enormous amount of the economy directly under the control of the surly and entitled bureaucrats that make up the Federal workforce. To place this in perspective, the current Federal budget is around 4 1/2 trillion per year, about a trillion of that spending is funded by new debt. Comrade Bernie is proposing new spending to the tune of...

$50,000,000,000,000

Fifty trillion. So for you gender studies majors out that, $50 trillion over ten years is about $5 trillion per year, or more than we are currently spending combined in the Federal budget per year. As an important caveat, I am taking the most generous price tag here. As anyone with any powers of observation already knows, the estimated cost of a government program is always significantly lower than what it will actually cost. A great example of this was the "Big Dig" highway project in Boston that moved much of the main traffic routes in Boston into tunnels. The project was supposed to cost $2.8 billion. In the end the price-tag was generously estimated at $14.6 billion and the real cost including interest is north of $20 billion. It took way longer and cost exponentially more than the government claimed. There is every reason to think that Bernie's plan, if implemented as promised, would do the same basic thing: under-perform on promises and drastically cost more than suggested. However, I am going to stick with the numbers as provided because those are bad enough.

So here is a breakdown of the Bernie plan and how he will pay for it. It is after the break and it is a long post so be forewarned. Also, I am not proofreading this so there will certainly be spelling and grammar errors.



In doing this breakdown I am using the official Bernie Sanders for President webpage, specifically the page titled: How Does Bernie Pay for His Major Plans? I accessed the page on February 26th, the day after the final debate before the South Carolina primary and I will look at the individual issues one at a time, channeling my inner John McLaughlin.

Issue One! Free college for everyone and eliminating student loan debt!

College for All and Cancel Student Debt

It will cost $2.2 trillion to make public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free and to cancel all student debt over the next decade. It is fully paid for by a modest tax on Wall Street speculation that will raise an estimated $2.4 trillion over ten years. Click here to read the plan.

Right away, we know that there is something like $1.5 trillion in student loan debt already so to "cancel" that means someone is going to get stuck with an enormous loss and I assume Bernie thinks the lenders will take the hit, apparently unaware that the banking industry owns most of Congress. So you aren't going to "cancel" student debt without the tax-payers shouldering at least a significant portion of the bill, leaving a much smaller piece of that $2.2 trillion to pay for "college for all".

Bernie talks a lot about his specifics in a linked page, which I will get to in a moment, but he doesn't spend much time talking about his plan to pay for it. But I will. Here is what he says:

Tax Wall Street Gambling to Cancel All Student Debt and Pay for College for All

We can guarantee higher education as a right for all and cancel all student debt for an estimated $2.2 trillion. To pay for this, we will impose a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy a decade ago. This Wall Street speculation tax will raise $2.4 trillion over the next ten years. It works by placing a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades – 50 cents on every $100 of stock – a 0.1 percent fee on bond trades, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivative trades.

He likes saying "speculators" because it makes his ignorant base think this tax will only hit the Wall Street fat cats. As you would expect from someone who is economically illiterate and has never held a real job in his life for any length of time, Bernie thinks "Wall Street speculators" trading stocks are what led to the economic crisis a decade ago. In fact what was going on back then was a ton of risky loans, that lenders were given incentives by the government to make, all sort of collapsed at once. That doesn't have anything to do with people trading equities (stocks) on the market, which any even financially semi-literate person understands. The collapse of the sub-prime loan market has nothing directly to do with the stock market but Communists Democratic Socialists from Vermont are only capable of levels of discourse like "Wall Street bad!".

Sure there are some people who are day-trading stocks and this fee will hit their profits but the big players in buying and selling stocks are mutual funds. Every mutual fund in the world, from the massive actively traded Fidelity Magellan fund to the massive passively managed Vanguard 500 Index, are constantly buying and selling stock to respond to shifts in the market, inflows from 401k contributions, redemptions from people cashing out or trading to other securities. These huge mutual funds are a major investment vehicle for average investors in their 401k and IRAs. A company like Fidelity is not just going to eat the loss on a 0.5% trade tax, it will simply be absorbed in the fund performance and become one of the expenses of the fund. In other words, the "Wall Street speculation" tax is going to be mostly levied on average Americans, a slow leak lowering the returns on their retirement investments. Thanks Comrade Bernie!

As usual, we are being "given" something "free" that we are paying for. The "speculation tax" will simply be passed on to the individual investors.

Then there is this little tidbit, my emphasis in red:

Make Public Colleges, Universities, and Trade Schools Free for All

Attending some of the best public colleges and universities was essentially free for students 50 years ago. Now, students are forced to pay upwards of $21,000 each year to attend those same schools.

Every young person, regardless of their family income, the color of their skin, disability, or immigration status should have the opportunity to attend college.

Didja catch that? Bernie is promising to sock it to individual investors, and let's be honest that population is overwhelmingly white and working/middle class, and use that money to provide "free" college to illegal aliens.

Here in the real world, the simple truth is that we have way too many people going to four year colleges in the first place, turning the American university system that was the envy of the world into a mere extension of high school.

More on the free college. Bernie rightly assumes his fanatical acolytes and those who are attracted to free stuff won't look too closely into his proposal but there are a couple of extra little goodies he tosses in there for maximum pandering.

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

Provide $1.3 billion to private, nonprofit HBCUs and MSIs per year to eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees. This funding would support some 200 schools which serve at least 35 percent low-income students.

This is a straight up bribe to black primary voters. Remember he is promising "free" tuition already so this $1.3 billion to 200 schools, or around $6.5 million per school, would be used for....other stuff. But Bernie doesn't stop pandering there....

End Equity Gaps in Higher Education Attainment

To address these inequities, we must make a transformative investment in our children, our teachers and our schools and fundamentally rethink the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system. Part of that is ensuring all our students get the help they need so they are ready for college and receive the support they need when they are in college.

When a politician talks about making an "investment", grab your wallet because that means spending your money because they know better than you. The language he is using here is code, you have to follow yet another link to find out what he means by all of this. Here are some key findings:

- Spending more money to force students to desegregate.

- Prevent schools from disciplining black and mestizo kids. So now you are going to get diversity in your schools whether you want it or not and once your school is full of "Black and Brown" (I like how he capitalizes those terms) kids, discipline problems are sure to follow but your school won't be able to do anything about it.

- Even more money via a "dedicated fund" to historically black colleges to get even more under-qualified black teachers in our schools.

- More money for forced busing. You won't be able to move to the suburbs to find decent schools, no matter where you go Bernie will impose minority students that you aren't allowed to discipline on your children's schools.

- Attacking charter schools, a pretty obvious tribute to the teacher's union.

- Bernie also promises to "Rethink the link between property taxes and education funding.". In other words, you will pay property tax to fund schools nowhere near you. As it works now, I pay property taxes in my school district, the schools where my kids would attend if they weren't homeschooled. This makes sense, I should pay for the school my kids attend but of course that means that poor people have less funding so now I should pay for my own kid's school and also other school systems that my kids don't attend because that is only fair.

- More money for art, foreign language and music education. Sure the kids already can't do simple math or form a coherent sentence, but by all means let's waste more of the school day on kids making macaroni art or playing the recorder.

- Way more money for "special needs" kids, including a mandate for the Federal government to provide at least 50% of "special needs"funding. When you think of special needs kids, you probably think of kids in wheelchairs or with mental disabilities, but a ton of kids who are out of control are also considered "special needs" and lo and behold those kids are also disproportionately black and brown. A clever way to give more gibs.

- Mandating a starting salary of $60,000 for teachers. Remember that teachers only teach around 2/3 of the year, so this is close to a six-figure starting salary. Bernie thinks the problem of teacher turnover is pay: "This high rate of turnover is more pronounced in low-income communities of color." but the truth is that the high rate of turnover in "communities of color" is driven by behavior issues and out of control and often violent black and brown students, and oh by the way you won't be allowed to discipline them. No amount of money is going to get 22 year old middle class white girls to allow themselves to be locked into a classroom full of out of control kids twice her size.

- More after-school/summer education program funding. This is the whole "more midnight basketball will keep blacks from shooting each other" ploy. Yet another step to removing any responsibility for parents to actually parents their own children. He tosses another $5 billion at this plan.

- Universal school meals. Speaking of removing any responsibility from parents, Bernie makes a pretty vague promise of paying for meals, plural, for every school aged kid and do so "year-round" which would include breakfast, lunch and "snacks".

- Bernie claims that teachers are paid "starvation wages", direct quote, and that he will "Fully close the gap in school infrastructure funding". I am not sure what the price tag is for that, he didn't even bother providing one but that is a huge number and there is no plan to pay for it.

- Plus an obligatory sop to gun control and LGBTQ students.

That is all extra stuff for public schools, not even colleges and universities!

More....

Require participating states and tribes to cover the full cost of obtaining a degree for low-income students (normally those with a family income of less than $25,000) by covering any gap that may still exist after we eliminate tuition, fees, and grants.

Another clever trick is to lower the cost of your proposal by simply passing on the additional costs to the states. Guess where the states will come up with the money to cover additional expenses? Yep, by taxing the people of that state. Is something really "free" if I pay the same amount for it, but the cost is hidden in with the rest of my tax burden?

The "free" college and elimination of student debt Bernie proposes is a scam. It won't be paid for by "Wall Street", it will be paid for by you, the working American trying to save for retirement. Adding insult to injury, while Bernie is a Commie, he also knows he has to pander to minorities to win in the Democrat party so there is lots of race-based gibs in his plan.

That was pretty exhausting to cover and it is only issue one!

Issue Two! Expanding Social Security!

Yes, expanding a program on the edge of insolvency.

Expanding Social Security

Bernie’s bill to expand Social Security will increase benefits for low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities by more than $1,300 a year. It is fully paid for by making the wealthiest 1.8 percent of Americans – those with incomes over $250,000 a year – pay the same rate into Social Security as working families.

This bill will also extend the solvency of Social Security into the year 2070 – ensuring that Social Security can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 50 years.

Hoo boy. The details fall under the general category of "secure retirement". I am pretty sure this is the one area Bernie is least committed to as the overwhelming majority of retired people are white.

The webpage lumps Medicare-for-all in this category but he also talks about it separately so I will deal with that when I get there.

A big issue he is pushing is magically making drugs cheaper by capping prescription drug expenditures at $200. I agree that drug prices are completely out of whack but so is most medical care thanks to the way we pay for health care. Again, Bernie has zero real world experience. My understanding is that most of those drugs that keep seniors alive are invented by American pharmaceutical companies, companies that operate on a for-profit basis and that incentive is what drives innovation in the first place. Bernie seems to think we can magically discover new drugs without enormous time and investment. Not to sound like some loopy libertarian here but the free market with a profit motive has been enormously successful at innovations.

The cost of prescription drugs is a significant issue but one that needs a solution that takes into account the absolute necessity of for-profit, private companies who innovate the new drugs that have done so much to extend the average American life expectancy. Bernie's "plan" is ham-fisted and marked by the same sort of real world illiteracy you find in so many of his followers. In so many ways, his approach to drug costs is like everything else in his campaign:

A campaign staffed and led by people, from the local organizer to the candidate himself, lacking any real world experience is inevitably going to have little to no understanding of how the real world outside of college campuses works.

Moving on to his next issue, expanding social security.

Social Security is one of those issues you just can't talk about other than making some vague noises about protecting it. The whole plan is a giant Ponzi scheme that relies on current taxpayers to fund the retirement of former taxpayers. With a huge number of Baby Boomers entering retirement right now and the average life expectancy, and thus the length of time and amount of money being drawn, continuing to expand, the program is functionally insolvent. That doesn't stop Bernie from promising to not just "save" Social Security but to also expand it!

His plan is to remove the "cap" on earnings. There is a goofy rule that you only pay Social Security taxes on your income up to a certain level ($250,000). He thinks this will generate a ton of money and maybe it would but he also wants to increase the benefits paid by $1,300 for the poorest seniors. Of course he also says in the same breath that Social Security is not insolvent but that it only has enough money for the next 16 years, which is not that long and is far more optimistic than any other estimate I have seen. He will be dead in 16 years so what is the harm in lying?

But Bernie isn't done trying to bribe the elderly. As the population ages, and thanks to decades of telling people to not have families, we have an enormous and heart-breaking number of seniors who have to rely on assisted living. From Commissar Sanders:

Under Medicare for All, health care will be guaranteed as a right, including fully covering home and community based services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. The program will also provide transportation to and from health services for those who need it. 

That sounds great but the cost of that will be astronomical. He also promises to provide nothing but the best service, while we have already been seeing far too many examples of elderly people, usually white seniors, being abused by low skill, surly "healthcare" aids, who are usually non-white. As more and more seniors need long-term, full-time care and don't have family to take care of them, I would bet conditions are going to deteriorate rather than improve. He also promises that no one will have to wait or compromise, whatever you want you will get!

Bernie isn't done yet! Some of his other promises to seniors.....

- Bernie is going to fix old people getting lonely! Not kidding.

As part of this expanded Older Americans Act, we will prioritize addressing social isolation among seniors. One in every four seniors lives alone. Today, one-third of seniors feels lonely.  Social isolation and loneliness negatively impact health and well-being and must be addressed aggressively by the federal government. We will create a new office within the Administration for Community Living to address social isolation. We will conduct a nationwide study of social isolation among seniors and its impact, as well as provide grants to states, municipalities, and non-profits to implement innovative pilot programs to address this issue.

Old people getting lonely, something that has been going on for as long as there have been old people, MUST be addressed aggressively by the federal government. Gee, you know what helps old people to not be lonely? Having families to care for and visit them. The Amish are incredibly engaged in this, widows and widowers are always getting visits from younger Amish to sing for them and just spend time with them. I took a van load around to four places last night and somehow we managed to do this without a Federal Department Of Old People Sadness.

You won't find any incentives in Bernie's plans that encourage the formation of large, stable families. Fags, trannies, women who murder their children in the womb? Yep. Large families to care for the elderly? Negative.

- More money for Meals On Wheels, more money for senior centers, more money for senior book clubs, more money for exercise classes. If you are starting to think that Bernie's entire plan is basically "more money", you would be correct.

- Bernie also promises to fix an actual problem, the pension shortfall issue. Like Social Security, both private and especially public sector pension plans (plans with a defined benefit payment, unlike a 401k plan) suffer from too many people taking too much out supported by too few people paying in. I saw this up close with some union multi-employer plans I worked with, and it is a serious problem as the union workforce shrinks. Simply saying "you can't cut payments" isn't a solution to what is basically a math and actuarial problem. Bernie claims he is going to fix this problem the same way he fixes everything else: making the "rich" pay their "fair share" (* rich elderly Jewish socialists from Vermont excluded).

Instead of asking retirees to take a massive cut in their pension benefits, we will make multi-employer plans solvent by closing egregious loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans in this country to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

If Congress could provide a multi-trillion bailout to Wall Street and foreign banks in 2008, we can and we must protect the pensions that were promised to millions of Americans.

At some point you have to ask how much we can fund by closing the same tax loopholes for the same pool of people, people who have access to the best tax attorneys and accountants around to make sure they don't pay more in taxes than they have to. The biggest issue with this statement is that tax dollars don't fund multi-employer plans in the first place, so it sounds like he is talking about raising taxes to bailout union pension plans (multi-employer plans are pretty much all union plans). Yet another bribe built into his plan to suck up to the Democrat primary voter base.

- More money for heating and cooling assistance.

- More seniors on food stamps.

- More resources to keep seniors, especially those critical "seniors of color", from getting scammed. I assume he is talking about stuff like reverse mortgages here but I doubt he has any idea how those even work.

- More and more money to hire 7.8 million home health and personal care aides, oh and of course making sure they are all unionized so they cost even more to pay and can't ever be fired plus oodles of sick leave, vacation leave, family and medical leave. Hell, they might never have to actually show up to work, just as long as they show up to vote. As Bernie points out, these jobs tend to be filled mostly by women and largely by wahmen of colour and immigrants, just the sort of people Bernie is counting on to vote for him.

Issue Three! You get a house, you get a house. You all get houses!

(* rich elderly Jewish socialists from Vermont excluded)
You might not realize it but we have a "housing crisis" in America. Bernie has a plan for that and guess what, it involves spending even more money! This section of his website is enormous, I was pretty shocked by how much he covers and boy, oh boy, is it a lot of stuff. All for the low, low price of another $2.5 trillion.

Here is the big line item:

End the housing crisis by investing $2.5 trillion to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units.

That sounds very affordable! 10,000 housing units at a cost of $2.5 trillion is $250,000 per unit or way more than I paid for my house. Stupid me buying my own place to live. Only a guy like Bernie could think spending $250,000 per home is "affordable".

We have already seen what glorious places you get when the government provides housing, like the Soviet Union....


Or the Cabrini–Green housing projects in Chicago.....


Cabrini–Green was an absolute shithole, full of gangs and drug dealers, cops getting shot, nine year old girls raped and blinded, seven year old kids shot by snipers on the way to school. This is the future Bernie envisions, the vast majority of Americans crammed into tiny apartments, living on meager government handouts and entertaining themselves to death while the oligarchs live lives of luxury.

Speaking of which, I think Bernie could help alleviate the "housing crisis" by donating 2 of his 3 houses to deserving families. No one needs more than one home, do they?

Oh, and don't forget free high speed internet for all public housing residents. What is the point of a free home if you don't also get free internet so you can watch porn all day instead of getting a job?

Then Bernie will make everyone's rent "affordable" by throwing $410 billion at Section 8 housing. Section 8 housing is already code for "housing no one wants to live near" so let's add more of it. I especially liked this line, emphasis mine:

Today, 7.7 million families in America are forced to pay more than half of their limited incomes on rent because they are eligible for Section 8 rental assistance but do not receive it because of a lack of federal resources. As a result, many of these families are forced to choose between paying rent or buying the food, medicine, or prescription drugs they need.

That is a complete lie. If you are poor enough to be eligible for Section 8, you are absolutely poor enough to get SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid which covers medicine and prescription drugs. Poor people in this country are not going hungry, many of them are quite obese, and if their kids are hungry, it is because of poor budgeting by parents. One of the things my wife and I learned while volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center was that there are a lot of people looking for free diapers and baby formula because they can't afford them but somehow they can afford smartphones, cigarettes and tattoos.

Bernie also will work on creating a national rent control standard and make it harder for landlords to evict tenants, which is already pretty hard to do. All of this combined will make it just not worthwhile for a lot of landlords to rent homes. That should help the "housing crisis"!

There is a lot more about rent control, evictions, requirement for "affordable housing" rules that mean if you want to build a development, you need to also build future slums.

Oh, and zoning is "racist".

Plus a 25% tax on "house flipping", also known as buying a distressed property, investing money and time to fix it up and then reselling it at a profit. Remember that Bernie wants to spend $1.48 trillion to rehabilitate homes using tax money but if someone rehabilitates a home and makes a profit, they get socked with a 25% tax. That will be a disincentive to rehabilitate homes, thus making the "housing crisis" worse. These plans sound better and better. You will see this theme over and over. Doing something in the private sector that results in profit is always bad, so it is always better to have the Federal government handle everything.

Then he just goes off the rails and declares he will "end homelessness in America". That is the sort of messianic nonsense we used to get from Obama. The homeless are homeless largely because of mental illness or substance dependency. Making more housing for them doesn't fix it.

There is more. Lots more. He opposes "gentrification", which is white people moving back into the cities they built in the first place and making neighborhoods nicer. He opposes housing discrimination. The creation of tenants unions, again making it less appealing to have rental property. Making it easier for first time homebuyers and also "Expand pre-purchase housing counseling to all prospective homebuyers." Where are we going to get all of these qualified housing counselors? Don't know. He also wants to make it easier for less qualified buyers to get mortgages, even though extending mortgages to people who were not qualified is precisely what led to the downturn a decade ago. I am sure this time it will work because Bernie is like magic or something.

This is a big one:

Decarbonize Our Housing

We will pass a Green New Deal to achieve 100 percent sustainable energy for electricity and a fully decarbonized building sector by no later than 2030.

The "Green New Deal", brainchild of tavern wench Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gets it's own separate treatment later but some key features for housing:

- Weatherization: I am sure this won't be full of graft and scams.

- Electrifying homes: other than Amish homes, can you buy a home that doesn't have electricity?

- Energy Assistance: More money to help poor people pay their heating/cooling bills.

- Decarbonizing public housing: Not only do you get free housing, you also get all brand new, very expensive appliances! You saps with jobs have to buy your own appliances but help pay for other people. What a bargain.

Then comes the most flabbergasting one yet. You have to think about this and consider that when Bernie hypothetically takes office, it will be 2021.

After 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.

What. The. Hell?

Remember, this is part of the "Green New Deal" so we are going to make energy drastically less efficient to produce and somehow also make it "free"? That section should be good fun.

How does he propose to pay for it? By taxing the rich of course! (* rich elderly Jewish socialists from Vermont excluded)

Key Points

Establish an annual tax on the extreme wealth of the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households.

Only apply to net worth of over $32 million and anyone who has a net worth of less than $32 million, would not see their taxes go up at all under this plan.

Will raise an estimated $4.35 trillion over the next decade and cut the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years, which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class.

Ensure that the wealthy are not able to evade the tax by implementing strong enforcement policies.

It is worth pointing out that he seems to be planning on getting taxes from the same pool of people over and over again.

Income and wealth inequality is certainly an issue but it always has been. I have no problem with someone who runs a company with 25,000 employees making 10,000% of what his lowest paid employee does. Private companies should set their own compensation structures.

The wealth issue is a lot harder to get a handle on. How does the IRS value a painting? Or jewelry? Are they going to go through the homes of the wealthy to look for valuables every single year? Or just trust that the wealthy are going to honestly report on their property and that those people won't simply buy a home in a tax friendly nation and move all of their wealth there before the law goes into effect?

Bernie is proposing a "national wealth registry" and an army of auditors and inspectors going through rich old ladies jewelry boxes. Bernie thinks he is going to raise $4.35 trillion over ten years with this new tax, or $435,000,000,000 per year. No estimate is available for what it will cost to actually enforce these laws but I do know this. Having known a few ultra-wealthy individuals, it is generally the case that they don't get that way by being dumb. First, the ultra-wealthy own Congress and Bernie would need Congress to make this plan happen. That won't happen and an executive order would be struck down immediately. Second, there are a million ways to hide your wealth and the very rich can afford to pay for the best advice to shelter their wealth. No way the oligarchy is going to allow some old idiot take away their wealth.

Issue Four! All Your Childrens Are Belong To Us!

Bernie resurrect the Obama-era "universal childcare" scheme!

Free Child Care and Pre-K for All

Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, early education, and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them.

Pretty much every single proposal from Bernie includes "every other country does it, so why not us?" forgetting that places like Sweden were up until recently overwhelmingly populated with native Europeans.

The basic gist is "free" and "high quality"...sorry, had to pause until I could stop laughing.....child-care and Pre-K starting at 3. It includes more of the typical stuff "women", "people of color", "starvation wages", etc but it is boiled down here:

In the 21st century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. We will guarantee a quality education, from child care through college, as a right to all.

Now everyone will have the "right" to a government "education" basically from birth until you are 22 or older. Sure our public school system is a disaster that spends more every year and produces worse results at the same time annually but I am sure expanding it won't be a problem. The plan includes a ton of spending on constructing and renovating child-care centers and a little plan cooked up (pun intended) by America-hating Ilhan Omar to "provide year-round, free universal school meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks – to every child in child care and pre-k."

Oh that should be cheap. How many millions of kids would be in these programs, as a lot of families would take advantage of what amounts to free babysitting? Three meals per day, 365 days per year. Ingredients, preparation, inspection, distribution. This one little line item would end up costing billions per year. I guess expecting parents, many who are already getting free food via WIC and food stamps, to feed their own kids is just too much to ask.

Gee Wally, this sounds awfully expensive. How is Bernie going to pay for this?

Glad you ask! He has an innovative plan to make the rich pay for it! (* rich elderly Jewish socialists from Vermont excluded)

Key Points

Establish an annual tax on the extreme wealth of the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households.

Only apply to net worth of over $32 million and anyone who has a net worth of less than $32 million, would not see their taxes go up at all under this plan.

Will raise an estimated $4.35 trillion over the next decade and cut the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years, which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class.

Ensure that the wealthy are not able to evade the tax by implementing strong enforcement policies.

Wait a second, that sounds familiar...

That is because it is. Bernie does a little sleight of hand here and proposes the same funding mechanism to pay for "free" babysitting child-care and pre-K that he does for his massive free housing plan. He claims that both plans combined only will cost $4 trillion over ten years but that is so unrealistic that even Bernie can't believe it. His housing plan alone would likely cost double what he estimates and that is a low ball figure.

Issue Five! Paying Your Bills Is For Suckers!

Eliminating Medical Debt

No one in America should go bankrupt because of medical debt. We will eliminate all past due medical debt in this country.

Just gonna eliminate it. Like "cancelling" student loan debt by waving a magic wand.

In America today, it is unacceptable that one out of every six Americans have past-due medical bills on their credit report, totaling $81 billion. 

Why is it unacceptable that people have bills for services rendered that they haven't paid on their credit report? That is kind of the point of a credit report, it gives lenders a snapshot of whether you pay your bills or not. At least here Bernie is somewhat honest about his plan:

Under this plan, the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.

In other words, the tax payers are just going to have to eat $81 billion in medical debt. He also proposes making it easier to declare bankruptcy and, this is important, prevent failing to pay your debts from impacting your credit:

Prohibit requiring the disclosure of medical debt discharge on housing, loan, or other applications.

I can see this working out like this. Hypothetically I have $40,000 in credit card debt from making stupid purchases online. I also have a couple of car payments on cars I don't like anymore. Finally I have $500 in outstanding medical bills. So I declare bankruptcy and because I discharged some medical bills in that bankruptcy filing, credit agencies won't see my bankruptcy filing. Pretty handy! I am not sure if that is how it would work, and I doubt Bernie has given it any thought, but it certainly sounds that way.

He also wants to get rid of the private "for profit" credit agencies and replace them with a public credit agency that will be as reliable and customer friendly as the DMV. The current credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) have a combined 31,000 employees. They also have a profit incentive to control costs. A new Federal credit reporting agency wouldn't have that incentive so now you are talking about a Federal department with at least 30,000 employees to replace the three current agencies. The entire Cabinet level Department of Labor has only 17,000 employees. HUD only has around 8,000. Labor has an annual budget of around $21 billion. HUD has a budget of over $134 billion. So how much would a new credit reporting department cost per year? $50,000,000,000? $100,000,000,000? Who knows but a $100 billion department with 30,000 overpaid and surly Federal employees over a decade comes up to a sneaky trillion bucks. That doesn't appear on Bernie's plan anywhere.

Issue Five! A Tavern Wench Remakes Our Entire Economy!

The New Green Deal

The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.

If this name sounds familiar to you, that is because it is a shameless theft of an idea by Bernie Sanders, taking the work of a strong, independent wahmen of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and adopting it as his own. She proposed a "New Green Deal" last February and it garnered a lot of laughs. You might recall that on her webpage he proposal included some language about guaranteeing "economic security" for people who were "unwilling to work". She got a lot of heat about that and I blogged about it here.

Bernie totally culturally appropriated the hard work of a Latinx wahmen of color, who is strong and fierce and independent and don't need no man, just like men have been doing forever. Now he is selling the same snake oil and giving her no credit on his webpage. Here are the details from Commissar Sanders:

Transform our energy system to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis.

Ensure a just transition for communities and workers, including fossil fuel workers.

Ensure justice for frontline communities, especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly.

Save American families money with investments in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure and high-speed broadband.

Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.

Invest in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands.

End the greed of the fossil fuel industry and hold them accountable.

I want to note the final point first. Bernie is going to "end greed", a human emotion like "loneliness". Bernie is so all-powerful he can fix human emotions! Amazing! On the other hand, he thinks anyone looking to make a profit anywhere is "greedy" and since he is a multi-millionaire with three homes, he should know a little about greed.

His New Green Deal page is massive. I copied just the details text and pasted it into a Word document and it was over 14,000 words long. I can guarantee almost no one has read the whole thing, I am only going to skim it for highlights to prevent me from cutting myself.

- Making all energy "100% renewable" by 2030. As a reminder that is ten years from now and Bernie wouldn't even take office until 2021. He claims he will completely change the entire energy infrastructure that heats and lights and cools homes as well as revamp the entire automotive industry in 9 years. Sure Comrade.

- Ending unemployment. That deserves a "LOL". He is going to magically create 20 million jobs to "solve the climate crisis" and of course they will all be union jobs so they will cost employers twice as much. Gee, I thought we had to import millions of third world workers because we don't have enough workers for the job openings we already have?

- This whole thing will be accomplished for a measly $16.3 trillion.

- I really liked this. Since his plan would throw millions of workers out of work, Bernie has a plan for that and you guessed it, it involves more government spending:

We will guarantee five years of a worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.

So my job gets eliminated, but I get five years of my current salary plus health care plus housing assistance plus preferential job placement. What kind of an idiot wouldn't just go on vacation for five years and let the government pay him? I would start looking for a new job at around the 4 years and 9 months mark. Until then I would be enjoying my sweet, sweet gubmint bux!

- "Supporting small family farms by investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture. " Who knows better about how to fix farming than someone who has never farmed (or worked at all) a day in his life?

- Ah, time for another bribe to non-white voters!

Justice for frontline communities – especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly – to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, including through a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. 

Just another $40 billion, a drop in the bucket! Remember kids, when a leftist says "justice" what he means is "taking money from working whites to bribe non-whites".

Hey, while we are spending, how about another $200,000,000,000 to the "Green Climate Fund", a slush fund to provide jobs for UN flunkies and throw money at the "developing world" that will be used to buy Italian sports cars for various tinpot dictators.

Lots and lots of stuff that doesn't have a price tag but amounts to funding far-left groups, the UN and non-white people. More of that "justice".

Bernie claims this will pay for itself, apparently by magic. He plans on suing the fossil fuel industry, you know, the industry that keeps our homes heated, the lights on, food delivered to the grocery store and allows workers to drive to work. The obvious problem is that lawsuits like that would take decades, cost an enormous amount of money both for industry and the government and there is absolutely no guarantee that the government would win any of these suits or how much net revenue they would generate. It is just smoke and mirrors, and at best any revenue it generates would be decades down the road. Again, more pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking from someone who doesn't know how anything works in the real world.

Bernie also plans to save money by reducing military spending that maintains "global oil dependence". That is a laudable goal, I would love to see our military spending cut way back and more of the military spending focused on defending our border. Here is the problem: Bernie doesn't say how much he would cut from the military. A dollar? A billion dollars? Five hundred billion?

Don't know. Doesn't say.

Also significantly slashing the military budget, like virtually everything else he is promising, would require Congressional approval and Congress has little appetite for looking soft on defense and cutting spending that goes to contractors and bases in their home states/districts.

At best, if Bernie managed to win, he would face an almost certain Republican majority in the Senate, a likely Republican majority in the House or at least a very narrow Democrat majority, and a Supreme Court that leans conservative. He isn't going to force through his plan and most of it would be dead on arrival.

Plus he counts revenue twice. For example, he claims costs will be offset by the new income taxes paid by these 20 million new union "green" jobs but since most of those jobs are funded by the government, in essence you are just recollecting government money you spent in the first place. That is at best recycling funds, not generating net tax revenue.

More farming fun:

Break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities.According to Food & Water Watch, “consolidation in the pork packing industry has contributed to the 82 percent decline in the number of hog farms in Iowa between 1982 and 2007.” In our country, just four companies slaughter 85 percent of beef cattle.

That is true. It is also why food is so cheap in the store. I am not opposed to breaking up the agribusiness monopolies or at least taking away the incentives that create those monopolies (that come from the government, not coincidentally) but doing so would mean higher prices for food. Those higher prices will be absorbed by consumers and by the government that Bernie is going to put on the hook for feeding millions and millions of school kids, pre-K kids and seniors. In other words he is going to make his own programs championed elsewhere even more expensive. Unless he plans on making us all eat bugs and lab grown protein, which might actually be the plan.

Anyway, you get the point and it is too exhausting to read every detail but the whole thing is an enormously expensive proposal that guts the energy industry, makes American workers even less competitive compared to Chinese and third world labor that doesn't bother with "renewable energy" and would cost an enormous amount of money with no realistic way to pay for it.

Bernie throws billions and trillions around like confetti. For all of his outside, revolutionary jabbering he is just a typical politician promising new spending in real money and revenue in make-believe wishes and dreams.



Issue Six! Spending Way More Money Actually Saves You Money!

Medicare For All

Remember "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance"? Well that is old news. Now, you don't get private insurance, everyone gets the same crappy insurance!

Bernie's plan to "fix" the health insurance situation is to simply have the government pay for it all. All of it.

The shenanigans he has going on here are pretty murky. He just makes up figures based on a study done by some academics in medical research. I looked at the summary he links to and it is pretty amusing in the way it makes assertions:

"has the potential to"

"we calculate"

"is likely to lead to"

"we estimate"

The amount of ducking and weaving going on here would make the best boxer in the world dizzy. This is all hypothetical, based on partisan assumptions, entirely academic. I looked at the first person listed as an author for this study, Dr. Alison P. Galvani. She has very impressive credentials, with a degree in biological sciences and a PhD in "theoretical epidemiology" from Oxford. Notably, she is not a medical doctor and according to Wikipedia her focus is on "the application of evolutionary ecology and epidemiology in the study of diseases". How does that qualify her to make complex predictions of economic impacts on universal healthcare? It doesn't. On the other hand, her Twitter account makes it clear she is politically far to the Left. Lots of stuff about Bernie, stuff blaming Trump for coronavirus, retweeting Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,Robert Reich, etc. Also interesting, even though Alison Galvani has had a twitter account since November 2016, she has no tweets or retweets prior to February of this year, right about the same time her report came out. Either she never tweeted for over two years or she deleted all of her old tweets. Curious....

The next person is Alyssa S. Parpia from Yale. Her background?

Alyssa is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, and is a Yale Climate Change and Health Pre-doctoral Fellow. Her research has been aimed at quantifying the impact of interventions aimed at curtailing infectious disease outbreaks such as those caused by Zika and Ebola virus. Alyssa's ongoing research focuses on understanding the influence of climate on transmission of dengue via statistical spatio-temporal and mathematical modeling.

How does that qualify her for making complicated economic and policy proposals that impact trillions of dollars in the U.S. economy? It doesn't, and given her work as a "Climate Change" Fellow, you can see where her political leanings are directed. Next is Eric Foster and as he has no credentials associated with his listing and I can't find anything much about him, I have no idea what makes him qualified to speak to a complete revamping of our medical system. Then we have Dr. Burton Singer, PhD not MD. He actually has some economics background:

He was formerly chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and professor of economics and statistics at Yale University (1984 – 1993), and Professor of Statistics at Columbia University (1967 – 1984).

So there is one guy who at least has the academic credentials to speak on these issues. Finally we have Dr. Meagan Fitzpatrick, again PhD and not M.D. She is from the University of Maryland school of medicine and has her pronouns in her Twitter bio, so you get where we are going. Her expertise:

Research/Clinical Keywords

Infectious disease modeling; Transmission modeling; Dynamic modeling; Vaccine impact; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Medical decision-making; Pharmacoeconomics; Global health; One Health; Maternal vaccination; Neonatal vaccination; Rabies; Pertussis; Rotavirus; Influenza; Zika; Ebola

She has written stuff about preventing rabies in India and Tanzania. Fascinating I am sure. She has a couple of retweets of liberals like Elizabeth Warren but mostly it is just dorky academic stuff. So what are her credentials for making sweeping public policy predictions? None.

Listen, I am sure all of these people are super smart in their fields, mostly infectious diseases but they also look like a pretty standard bunch of egghead academics without a single doctor among them and very minimal expertise in the sort of modeling and predictions that Bernie is basing his risible plan to save money by the government taking over the entire healthcare system. More critical, not one of them has any sort of real world experience that I can see. It is all theories and academic papers and conferences and making predictions about stuff that doesn't impact them when they are wrong. I could whip up a series of proposals and make wild claims about costs saved and revenue generated that would be fine as long as it didn't have to actually work in the real world with real people. People and organizations don't operate in a theoretical world, they are full of imperfect and flawed people. Multiply that times millions of people and your theories get flushed in about five minutes.

If had a question about stemming the spread of rabies in Tanzania, Meagan would be at the top of my list of experts. That doesn't mean I trust the predictions of a wildly partisan group of academics in medicine to burn down the entire health delivery system of the U.S. based on their models.

Bernie's entire Medicare For All plan is fiscally dependent on the estimates of a group of academics, and the main one at least is an avowed Bernie Sanders supporter and she makes no attempt to hide this. She might be smart and an academic but she is also a political partisan so of course she is going to tell you in this "academic" paper exactly what Bernie tells her to say. I can all but guarantee there was coordination between this group and the Sanders campaign.

Again, we are supposed to believe that the least competent and efficient organization known to man, the U.S. Federal government, is going to take over paying for all health care in the U.S. and do so trillions of dollars more efficiently than a private health insurance system that has an incentive to be profitable and efficient. It strains the boundaries of credulity.

So that is what Bernie Sanders is proposing and it took me hours stretched out over several days to get through it all. That tells me the average Bernie-bro never gets past the bullet points, if they even get that far. They just know deep down that they are in line for some free crap if Bernie wins.

The amount of money he is proposing to spend isn't something any of us can really comprehend. I used to work with retirement plans that had hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars invested and that was hard to wrap your mind around. Spending trillions upon trillions in new spending on top of the trillions we already spend each year? No one really understands that.


I have been saying for a while that I don't think Trump gets re-elected in November thanks to demographic changes over the last four years and the endless media hammering he has received. I still believe that with this qualifier: if the nominee is Bernie, I think Trump has a very solid chance to win re-election. The Dems had what should have been an easy road to winning in November 2020 and in doing so sweep a lot of Democrats down ballot into office and maybe even retaking the Senate. All they had to do was nominate a decent, non-crazy person but they instead threw together the worst field of candidates ever seen in politics anywhere at anytime. Their "safe" choice is a creepy old man who is mentally imploding in real time. He recently gave a stump speech where he not only said he was a candidate for the Senate but as he was saying this his voice began slurring and it, not joking, sounded like he was having a mini-stroke right on stage. There were some decent candidates on the stage for early debates but they were overshadowed. The governor of Montana, his name escapes me, and Tulsi Gabbard could have been solid candidates that were palatable to the average voter. An old socialist from Vermont? Not so much.

What this adds up to, thanks to a little back of the envelope math from failed Mayor Pete Bootyfudge, is perhaps four more years of Trump:

"Let's do this math," said former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at Tuesday's debate. "Senator Sanders at one point said (Medicare for All) was going to be $40 trillion, then it was $30 trillion, then it was $17 trillion. That's an incredible shrinking price tag. At some point, has said it is unknowable to even see what the price tag would be. Now there are new numbers. It adds to four more years of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands."

As I hopefully have shown, Sanders is projecting revenue that simply doesn't add up and his spending estimates are radically undervalued. The ads for Trump write themselves. Bernie praising Communism for it's incredibly youth programs interspersed with pictures of Soviet breadlines and empty shelves in Venezuela. It is a political advertiser's dream.

As an aside, because we are self-employed and Obamacare destroyed the individual health insurance market, we have had to deal with our state insurance plan on and off for several years. Trying to get answers, trying to get a phone call answered, dealing with getting contradictory letters on the same day. The government is the least capable organization in the country for dealing with health insurance but Bernie thinks we should hand them even more power. What is the definition of insanity again?

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Three overarching factors are at work here

One, and this is constantly missed, is the simple fact that the U.S. tax base is shrinking. We are pummeled endlessly about our "white privilege" which also means that we make more money that other groups, other than some Asians and the small Jewish population. We are also the majority of the population, at least for now. When you look at who is working in the highly paid fields like accounting, engineering, medicine, law, actuaries, upper echelon corporate management, what you see is a whole bunch of white people. The same is true in the skilled trades. As the white population ages into retirement and out of high tax paying professions, replaced by lower wage and often no-tax paying service industry workers, the tax base will continue to shrink at the same time Bernie is proposing we spend more. You can only tax the rich (* rich elderly Jewish socialists from Vermont excluded) and corporations so much. By design the people Bernie depends on to fund his plans are shrinking as a population. Oops.

Two, very little of what Bernie proposes as "solutions" involves people actually solving an issue on their own. His entire plan presumes that there is no solution to any problem that doesn't require a new Federal program and billions or trillions in new spending. His entire plan assumes that "Americans" are incapable of doing anything on their own, and it especially asserts that women, "immigrants" and blacks and mestizos are utterly helpless. He takes pandering to a whole new level. The end goal is to essentially run all of the American economy and even the basics of daily living through an office in the Federal government. Everything you do will be directed from D.C. and all economic activity will be squeezed for a government tithe. Somehow American started out as the land of opportunity that everyone around the world wanted to come to to build a new life but has since changed into the land of dependence where no one can do anything on their own without the benevolent interference of an obese, surly government flunkie in D.C. giving them permission. It is actually pretty clever, when you convince people they are completely dependent on the government, it makes it easier to convince them to vote for whoever will protect their dependence.

The third and perhaps biggest factor to consider is what Bernie's plan means other than simply exploding the debt and sending us all to the breadlines. What he is proposing is also a massive expansion of the scope of the Federal government to cover every single aspect of American life. Old people get lonely? Federal program. School kids want a snack? Federal program. Turning the lights on in your house, driving your car to work? Federal program. We have almost 3 million directly employed Federal employees already, not counting the Armed Forces. To run Bernie's plans it is not out of the realm of possibility that we would need to at least double that number. 5 million? 6 million? Ten? Federal employees by and large don't make or produce anything, they don't add value or create. They simply siphon from the productive class like leeches. The more of them we have, the more they will be a drag on the private sector, the economic engine that drives America, and that seems to be the plan in the first place. Bernie seems to want a country where we all work for the Federal government, administering plans and programs for each other, but on one will actually make or do anything. To summarize:

Even if Bernie's risible plans to fund his programs actually worked, his plan would still more than double the size of the Federal bureaucracy.

That is something very sobering to consider.

The South Carolina primary today is the last gasp for Biden. If he underwhelms, it is likely Bernie hammers the field on Super Tuesday. At the very least it will be impossible for anyone else to pull in enough support to win the nomination outright and that creates a scenario where Bernie has the most delegates by a wide margin at the convention but the DNC denies him the nomination. His fanatical followers have already been talking about mass violence if he is blocked from the nomination.

Whatever happens, Bernie's plan is the blueprint for the future of the Democrat party. There isn't a path forward I can see where the party gets more moderate in the future as more and more Democrat voters come from the ranks of mestizos and blacks. Just like Trump marked a significant shift in Republicans, Bernie is doing the same with Democrats.

No matter what happens at the DNC convention and the general election, the Democrats are Bernie's party now.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent summary. If Bernie is elected, I will retire the day after his inauguration. Maybe go back to free college.

    Why work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best strategy would be to get a job in the coal industry for a week and then let him pay you for five years to sit on the couch and blog.

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