WASHINGTON, January 18, 2016 — In the 150 years after its birth, the United States went from insignificant nation on the fringes of the known world to the greatest military, political and economic power the world had ever seen. It easily surpassed nations and empires that were centuries older.
This was accomplished because of American exceptionalism.
American exceptionalism has many definitions, but according to scholar Ian Tyrell, it “refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty.”
We could add free market capitalism to that definition.
Our economic system is one where individuals are paid according to the value of the output that they produce. This contrasts to other economic systems, where people are paid partly according to their need rather than their contribution.
Our system provides an incentive for workers to increase their contribution to the economic life of the country. The increased contribution is generally rewarded with greater income. In systems that pay according to need, workers have no incentive to increase output, since that will not result in increased income.
Economies that practice the “to each according to his need” philosophy have a hard time matching it with, “from each according to his ability.” They often experience little or no growth; they stagnate and have a much lower standards of living, as we see in Cuba and North Korea.
Bernie Sanders’ policies are all designed to see that people are paid according to need rather than contribution.
That is un-American.
Sanders wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, because unskilled workers “need” more. Paying $15 per hour for 40 hours results in a $31,000 per year cost. Add in the firm’s social security payment of $1,900 per year and the required health care cost of at least $3,000, and the total cost of a completely unskilled worker is $36,000 per year.
If a worker isn’t worth $36,000 per year, a company doesn’t have to pay that; it can pay nothing. The $15 minimum wage would increase unemployment for unskilled workers from the current level of 20 percent to at least 30 percent.
Besides, the policy is un-American.
Sanders wants to make the income tax more progressive so that those who make the greatest contributions to the economy are taxed as much as 70 percent on marginal income.
This reduces the incentive to make investments for those who have capital to invest. This would slow economic growth.
Overtaxing anyone is un-American.
Sanders wants to reverse free trade by tearing-up free-trade agreements and discouraging U.S. companies from producing goods in countries like China. He believes that this would bring jobs back to the U.S. and give them to American workers.
He’s wrong. His policies would drive up prices. Higher costs would mean Americans would purchase less and see a decline in their standard of living.
This too is un-American
Sanders wants to expand “tax and spend” policies to provide free college tuition to every American who “studies hard.” “Free tuition” means that students who receive the education do not pay, but rather, taxpayers foot the bill.
We consider primary and secondary education to be a public good, so it is paid for by taxpayers. Higher education is an investment that primarily benefits the one receiving it, so it should be the responsibility of the individual to choose and invest in that education wisely.
Sanders’ policy is un-American.
Sanders wants to modify the Affordable Care Act to create a Medicare-like single payer system and continue to force all Americans to purchase insurance they may not want or need. The single payer system would eliminate competition, which would result in poorer quality care and higher costs.
This idea is un-American.
Sanders wants to break up big banks. That means that, when companies need to raise large amounts of capital to expand, no financial institution will be big enough to handle the need. This will slow growth.
Besides, it is un-American to punish banks simply because they are successful.
Sanders is appealing to people who are not contributing to the economy and are not receiving any income. He also appeals to workers with few or no skills who may worked hard, but produce little output and receive little income. Safety-net programs can help them learn new skills and move to new industries, but we should not keep buggy makers in the business of making buggies or blacksmiths making horseshoes.
This is not a rigged system, but rather a system that awards contribution.
Sanders’ appeal is un-American.
The American solution is to stimulate growth in the economy. The American solution is to encourage and create avenues for Americans to contribute more to the economy to increase their income and reduce income inequality.
The American solution encourages individual responsibility rather than extended social responsibility.
The American solution would promote the exceptionalism that made America great.