Revolutionary Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders leads the race for the Democratic nomination.

He may become America’s first self-described “democratic socialist” president.

What does that mean?

Today, when Sanders talks about socialism, he says: “I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

But Denmark and Sweden are not socialist. Denmark’s prime minister even came to America to refute Sanders’ claims, pointing out that “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy.”

Both Denmark and Sweden do give citizens government-run health care and have bigger welfare programs than America has. However, recently, they’ve moved away from socialism. Because their socialist policies killed economic growth, they cut regulations and ended government control of many industries.

Sanders probably doesn’t know that. He, like many young people, just loves the idea of socialism.

For my new video this week, Stossel TV producer Maxim Lott went through hours of Sanders’ old speeches. What he found reveals a lot about what Sanders believes.

When Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he went out of his way to defend Fidel Castro. “He educated the kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society!” Fortunately, Sanders added, “Not to say Fidel Castro or Cuba are perfect.”

No, they are not perfect. Castro’s government tortured and murdered thousands. By confiscating private property, they destroyed the island’s economy. Life got bad enough that thousands died trying to escape.

Even now in Cuba, most people try to live on less than $2 a day  Sanders focuses on other things, like: “They did a lot to eliminate illiteracy!”

Sanders has long had a soft spot for socialist countries. He chose to honeymoon in Communist Russia, where he said people “seem reasonably happy and content.” He was “extremely impressed by their public transportation system… cleanest, most effective mass transit system I’ve ever seen in my life!”

He praised Soviet youth programs: “Cultural programs go far beyond what we do in this country.”

He did at least qualify his support, calling the Soviet government “authoritarian.”

But Sanders made no such criticism after Nicaragua’s socialist revolution. He praised the Sandinistas’ land “reform” because they were “giving, for the first time in their lives, real land to farmers so that they can have something that they grow. Nobody denies that they are making significant progress.”

Former landowners sure denied it. They’d had their land stolen. Sanders suggested that was OK because landowners are rich.

“Rich people, who used to have a good life there, are not terribly happy,” he said. “As a socialist, the word socialism does not frighten me… (P)oor people respect that.”

What about the hunger and poverty that socialism creates? Bernie had an odd take on that.

“American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food; the rich get the food and the poor starve.”

After he said he was “impressed” by Sandinista leaders, Sanders added, “Obviously I will be attacked by every editorial writer in the free press for being a dumb dupe.”

I join them.

Bernie Sanders is indeed a “dumb dupe” about economics. Or as the Soviet Communists used to put it, “a useful idiot.”

Under Ortega’s rule, Nicaragua quickly fell further into poverty, and the socialists were voted out in 1990. Ortega later returned as a violent dictator. For most people in Nicaragua, Cuba and other centrally planned economies, life is hell.

Once Sanders was elected to Congress, he mostly stopped praising violent socialist revolutions.

At that time, Communist governments in Europe were collapsing. It was convenient for embarrassed former supporters of those governments to rebrand themselves.

In Congress, Sanders would call himself an independent and, in the estimation of his fellow Vermonter, former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, he “votes with the Democrats 98% of the time.”

But Sanders has never taken back the enthusiastic praise he gave to socialist regimes.

13 thoughts on “Revolutionary Bernie Sanders

  1. I want to see the ‘starving’ people at this point. I really do. There is so much prosperity in the United States, so many food pantries, so much in donations to those in need, I want to see who is being left out. When private citizens like me donate in excess of $10,000/year to private charities, I have a hard time understanding how the rich have taken food out of the mouths of the poor.

  2. Keep doing what you’ve been doing for years John. Your relatively short, yet concise reporting make a difference. As a retired journalist that has become ashamed of my old career field, it’s refreshing to see one that still holds the 1st edict of journalism, SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT!

  3. He will destroy our democratic country if he is elected. His past words and actions speaks volumues. Unfortunately, too many people today want, no expect “free” things, as they received ribbions and trophies for participanting. My parents taught me nothing is free you have to earn what you need and want. The Republican party must have a huge voter turn out to defeat all these Socialists, AKA left wing liberals.

  4. All these blinded fools see and here are Free, beat Trump at all costs.
    Willing to destroy our country all because of hatred of one man. Willing to follow a socialist leader bent on destroying our country just to get back at a sitting president is so absurd it gives new new meaning to stupid.

  5. I am scared to death for this country if this man is elected president. Not all rich people are bad. Many give tons of money to charity. If he is able to implement most of his ideas this country will be completely ruin in 4-years. I even seen several articles that said if he was elected, the stock market would drop up to 40% within a very short time. We would plummet into a recession, 1000s of jobs lost.

    Thus man is clueless. God help us all.

    PS. Big fan of John. I have been following him since 20/20. Keep up the good work.

  6. I thought that John Stossel was a libertarian, but now I’m glad to see he agrees with Bernie Sanders that Sweden and Denmark have a good economic system. They only disagree on what to call it. Bernie calls it Socialism and John calls it Capitalism, but I would call it “highly taxed and regulated capitalism”, similar to the highly taxed and regulated New Deal system we used to have in the USA (of course it was denounced as “socialism” at the time although it wasn’t really). We had it between 1933 and 1981, and I think it was the best economic system ever devised. It created the world’s largest and richest middle class. Then we got conned out of it by Ronald Reagan and his Supply Side Economics. Before Supply Side Economics, wages in the US went up with GDP per capita. Since 1981 GDP per capita has continued to go up, at about the same rate as before, but wages have not gone up. If wages had continued to match the GDP per capita growth rate, wage earners would be making almost twice as much as they are. This could have happened, the money was there. Instead Supply Side Economics diverted that money to the rich.
    But back to Sweden. In John’s video (the “cut regulations and ended government control” hyperlink) he interviewed a Swedish person named Johan Norberg, who claimed that high taxes in the 70’s and 80’s were the cause of the “economy going south”. Then he says that after tax cuts and privatization, Sweden “developed into one of the world’s richest countries”. However, according to “Economy Watch”, “The postwar boom propelled Sweden to even greater economic prosperity, taking the country all the way to third place in per capita GDP rankings in 1970.” That was 20 years before the tax cuts and privatization Norberg talked about so it was already one of the world’s richest countries. Between 1970 and 1990 Sweden’s average GDP growth rate was 2.02% per year (from Angus Madison data). From 1991 to 2008, after the tax cuts and privatization, it was 2.08%. That’s not much of an improvement! Those tax cuts and privatization hardly did anything! John Stossel, don’t let people like Johan Norberg pull your leg like that! He must have thought no one would check the data. (Johan Norberg is not some random Swedish dude that John found on the street. He is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, which is a libertarian think tank dedicated to figuring out ways to funnel more of the nation’s wealth to its rich donors.)
    In fact, in the United States as well as other countries, tax cuts have rarely if ever caused any increase in economic growth. This is the con that I mentioned earlier. In the United States there has been no correlation between growth and top tax rates. There was also no increase in job growth and no “trickle down” seen in wages following tax cuts. The number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. peaked in 1979 and went down after Reagan gave the “job creators” a big tax cut. The tax cuts and deregulations actually gave corporations an incentive to move their factories out of the country. On the other hand, tax rates are strongly correlated to the distribution of the nation’s income. High tax rates cause more of the income to go to wage earners, while low taxes cause it to go to the rich. This is the primary effect of tax rates, and that is why rich people have spent decades conning wage earners into voting for tax cuts.
    In 1980 the United States had the world’s highest median income by a substantial margin. But then Reaganomics (AKA Supply Side Economics) caused wages to stagnate. Other countries that did not cut taxes as much maintained their wage growth so some of them have now surpassed the USA. According to Gallup polls the countries with the highest household median incomes are Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, and the United States in that order. Isn’t it funny how those high tax countries now have a higher median income than we do? Like I wrote earlier, higher tax rates are a good thing for wages. (OK, Australia is not a particularly high tax country any more. But it does have a national wage board system that sets wages for most workers. They do not rely on the “free market” to set wages.)
    Another example is our neighbors, Mexico and Canada. Mexico has a low tax, largely unregulated style of capitalism. Canada is more highly taxed and regulated. Which has the higher standard of living? From the Gallup data, Canada’s median household income is $41,280 and Mexico’s is $11,680. Why would anyone want to make our economy like Mexico’s? I prefer Canada’s system, which is a lot like the New Deal (that’s because they copied it from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal).
    The United States had two revolutions in 20th century. The first was Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was a revolution of the wage earners against the rich. The second was the Reagan Revolution, which was a counter-revolution of the rich against the wage earners. Bernie Sanders is right that we need another revolution to restore something like the New Deal if we want to continue to have a decent standard of living in this country.

    1. Anyone who thinks that we were prosperous after World War Two because of New Deal economics and not because we were the world’s only free, in-tact, industrial and military superpower is delusional.

      1. Based on what, your gut feeling? U.S. GDP growth was lower in the post-war years than most first world countries. From 1947 to 1970 U.S. GDP growth averaged 3.6% per year. The growth for total Western offshoots (excluding the USA, this includes Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) was 4.6%. USSR GDP growth during that same time was 6.0% per year. So it appears that US GDP growth in the post-war years was actually sub-par.
        Except for the Depression, U.S. real GDP per capita growth has been about almost constant for the last 150 years. There was no significant change during the post war years. The New Deal did not create any more economic growth. I never said that it did. The New Deal high top tax rate did put a cap on top incomes. Combined with strong regulations and unions, that caused a redistribution of income away from the rich to the wage earners. Wage growth was very strong until Nixon’s wage and price controls put a stop to it in 1973. Then Reagan’s tax cuts removed the income cap and allowed top incomes to become so large that since then nearly all GDP growth has gone to the rich. Incomes for the bottom 90% have stagnated, they got no benefit from the last four decades of economic growth. We have been told this is because of “globalization” and “automation”.
        But look, other countries that did not cut taxes by nearly as much have had much less upward redistribution of income. Their wages have not stagnated, they have continued to go up. The United States used to have the world’s highest paid auto workers by a large margin. Now auto workers in France and Germany are paid more than American workers (according to Why aren’t workers in other countries affected by “globalization” and “automation”? American workers have lost retiree medical insurance and pensions to make our corporations “more competitive”, they say. But their competitors in other countries have not done that.
        We’re being conned, that’s why.

        1. Would q socialist schooling system teach you how to separate thoughts into paragraphs Jeff? If so, I’m all for it.

  7. I don’t get it. He’s been a career politician, never held a real job, never paid child support so his family needed to go on welfare…
    I understand his appeal to the 20 & 30 somethings living in their parents basement, but not to the common ‘thinking’ person.

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