Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, represents everything wrong with the populist redistributist left. Channeling his inner Hugo Chavez in an interview with CNBC, Sanders bemoaned the choice of deodorant and sneakers in this country, because children are starving.
You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.
Sanders, of course, is mistaken on the fundamentals. Economic growth is not a goal for the sake of itself—economic growth ignited by the freeing of markets has lifted more people out of poverty in the last century than any other force in history. Choices in the market contribute that improvement of the human condition—not just because 23 choices of deodorant mean more jobs than one choice of deodorant but because in a very real sense more choices mean more wealth. Bernie Sanders and those attracted to his economically illiterate, anti-capitalist rhetoric live in a world where working conditions haven’t changed since the 19th century, where the United States is perpetually one tax or spending cut away from collapsing into Mad Max style chaos.