“Feeling the Bern” has become a rallying cry for the Bernie Sanders presidential primary effort. It seems appropriate and has a nice ring to it. Few would suggest “Thinking the Bern” sounded as good. Perhaps even fewer Sanders’ supporters would recognize the contradictions between feeling and thinking.
“Feeling the Bern” reminds me of my first encounter with what I considered a strange approach to evaluating things. Somewhere about twenty or thirty years ago my two sisters-in-laws from California visited. They were transplants, growing up in Michigan but apparently instantly adapted to the “foreign” culture of CA. Whatever the fad, they bought it. Whatever the drink, they drank it. EST and Kool-Aid were atop their intellectual environment.
Their conversations always began with “I feel … .” Evidence, not feelings, dominated my training and my occupation. Objective evaluation was the coin of the realm. After several days of nauseating New-Age gibberish, I began to counter each such introduction with “You feel. Others think!’ My response earned me no love from the in-laws but the message got through.
Bernie Sanders represents the Californication of our educational system and America itself. It is impossible to “think” Bernie; he must be “felt.” Nothing that he espouses can stand up to “thinking” or empirics. He is the embodiment of the muddled mindset that began in California decades ago. He is the political equivalent of “drinking the Kool-Aid.” FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) reported:
Bernie Sanders, for instance, looks at nations such as Denmark and Sweden today and says that America should copy their expansive welfare states.
FEE also provided the table below which contradicts the notion that European Welfare States are superior to the US, at least in terms of prosperity:
… Europeans would be more prosperous if the fiscal burden of government wasn’t so onerous. … debunking the argument that we should copy nations such as Denmark by allowing a larger government in the United States …
Socialism has thousands of years of history and not one example of success. Defenders of this perfectly abysmal record argue that the wrong leaders were in charge. But a system must be able to function with imperfect leaders for that is all that government attracts. Beyond the damning empirics, there is a theoretical reason why Socialism cannot work. Ludwig von Mises argued, almost a century ago, that capital could not be effectively allocated without a real, functioning price system. Mises’ argument showed that even with intelligent angels as leaders Socialism would fail.
Sadly, the primary difference between Bernie and other Republican and Democrat candidates is the rapidity with which they want to travel down Hayek’s road to serfdom. The Welfare State is political dessert for government but arsenic for prosperity.
It is not difficult to see Bernie being a quaint footnote in political history. Bernie’s goal seems secure with or without him. The political class benefits from Bernie’s blueprint but not the speed he wants to apply it. Bernie wants to throw the frog into the boiling pot of water. The rest of the criminal class believes the frog will jump out and prefers to put the frog into water that gets hot slowly. Either way, the frog dies. You and I and other hard-working citizens are the frog in this scenario.
History provides little evidence that the process can be reversed via the political process. That might be considered the best reason to support Old Bern. Throw the frog into the boiling pot and see what happens. It won’t be pretty and it won’t be political.