The mad doctor

The mad doctor

Bernie Sanders wants to heal our economy.  As a socialist, he is the last sort of person who should be playing doctor.  It's not his diagnoses.  Those are sometimes close to the mark.  It's his prescriptions.  They have an astounding history of causing more illness, not less.  By voicing them on the national stage, Sanders is already feeding poison to his patient.

Sanders believes that "large corporations" do not "pay their fair share in taxes."  It is true that many large corporations have astoundingly small tax bills.  In fact, many of the largest even receive refunds.  Sanders's solution is to "stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas."  This is not a solution to the problem, nor would it make healthy policy.

Our government does not have the authority to dictate where a corporation takes its post-tax profit or hires its employees.  Even if it did, to start dictating those decisions would strongly encourage business to flee.  It would damage American commerce at all levels.

The big problem with corporate taxation is not profit-shifting or outsourcing, as Sanders suggests.  Profit earned in the U.S. is taxable in the U.S., and that's reasonable.  Jobs move overseas because labor is cheaper overseas, and that's also reasonable.  The problem is loopholes.

Thousands and thousands of loopholes have been tied into our tax system over more than a hundred years of lobbying and political dealing.  Corporations with good accountants and tax attorneys can often loophole themselves into tax bliss.  Without loopholes, corporations would pay the established corporate tax rates (which, by the way, are the highest in the world).

It's simple.  If we want corporations to pay their "fair share," we need to close the loopholes.  As an added benefit, a simplified tax system would allow Americans to save some of the 6.1 billion hours they waste on tax preparation every year.  Closing loopholes is obviously the healthy move.  What Sanders wants is obviously not.

Sanders' litany of bad economic ideas rolls on.  We've heard them all before.  Sanders wants to:

  • Make "tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America."  Under what authority would the federal government hand out free money on this scale?  Given that our national debt is already well above 100% of GDP, where would this much money possibly come from?
  • Increase "the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020" because "no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty."  Why 15 dollars and 40 hours?  Why not 100 dollars and 10 hours?  Or just a guaranteed income for nothing?  If we're going to pretend this economic voodoo doesn't hurt anyone, why not take it to its logical conclusion?
  • Guarantee "healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system."  First of all, isn't Medicare already in serious trouble?  Medicare's Board of Trustees says that even with the Affordable Care Act's heavy-handed cost-reduction measures, "projections indicate that Medicare still faces a substantial financial shortfall that will need to be addressed with further legislation."  Further, as a result of those same heavy-handed cost-reduction measures, physicians will increasingly refuse to accept Medicare patients: "the Trustees expect access to Medicare-participating physicians to become a significant issue in the long term."  Far more importantly, wouldn't free healthcare be an entitlement, not a right?  A right is inherent and universal, and may not be infringed upon by others.  An entitlement is an invention of politics, and must be fulfilled by others.  If healthcare is a human right, then aren't things that contribute to good health?  Wouldn't organic food, gym membership, and a weekly comedy show be human rights as well?  After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Sanders's collectivist proposals are both practically and philosophically absurd.  They are also exhausted.  In human history - including in the United States - his ideas have been repeatedly proposed, implemented, carried to ruin, and abandoned.  They are obviously bad ideas.  They confuse and impoverish our national discussions at a time that we are in particular need of clarity and good sense.

"Doctor" Sanders's prescriptions will cause illness, not alleviate it.  Common sense predicts it, and human trials have confirmed it.  Sanders may have a place on the national stage, but there is no reason we shouldn't treat him as the mad doctor he is.