The Blessings of the Free Market vs. the Alternative Universe of Bernie Sanders

The free market alternative advocated by Sanders amounts to little more than the seizure of private income to be redistributed by radicals.

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on November 27, 2017

In 2006, I bought an HD television with a 30 inch screen. It cost about $300.

In 2008, I bought another HD TV with a much larger screen. It cost about $300. 

We are moving in a few months, and will have some high-fallutin’ wiring system in our new house. We plan to buy a big TV to mount on a wall. Over Thanksgiving weekend, there was a 55-inch screen Class 4K (2160P) LED TV on sale at a big retailer.

This miraculous device has more than eight million pixels. It holds “four HDMI ports (that) allow you to connect up to four devices at once, so you can stream, browse and listen to all of your favorite multimedia.” It can also probably walk the dog.

Its costs about $300.

A far better television, much larger and with a crispness of detail only imagined a few years ago, for sale at the same price as a much inferior product only about a decade ago.

Rising Income, Affordable Products

This story illustrates a basic fact of American economic life: We are enjoying a boom of high (and ever higher) quality and generally very affordable goods and services. 

However, in the last election, Bernie Sanders preached a message of woe and injustice, highlighting disparities between “the wealthy” and the rest of America. As he said on his 2016 campaign website:

Despite huge advancements in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is $783 less than it was 42 years ago; while the real median income of female workers is over $1,300 less than it was in 2007.

How does this bleak picture relate to the realities of our economy? Consider the following.

In 1985, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median income in the U.S. was $23,620; using the BLS’s Consumer Price Index inflation adjustor device, that amount would be worth almost exactly $53,800 today.

As of September of this year, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the median income in our country was $57,617.

So, there’s been a bump in real income for most Americans. But there’s more — a lot more — that people like Senator Sanders consistently omit.

2017 is Better Than 1974

Let’s start with his date of reference: In 1974, smartphones did not exist. Neither did microchips, laptops, hybrid cars. Or cars with DVD players, Bluetooth connections, high-efficiency engines, or built-in GPS systems. Or the world-wide web, email, text messaging,

Or “radical fibers,” including the “revolutionary materials” that have produced “lighter tennis rackets and stronger planes” and “a fiber of ultrapure glass that transmits light well enough to be used for telecommunications.”

Or DNA gene sequencing, which enables scientists to identify certain genes that cause disease. Or adult stem cell research, which has led to treatments for 26 types of cancer, 16 auto-immune diseases, and dozens of other maladies.  

Do we really want to go the way of countries like Argentina and Brazil, resource-rich nations that should be thriving but instead are actually experiencing economic chaos?

The list goes on and on. Then there are other benefits aside from compensation. Johnson and Johnson became the first firm to begin implementation of a 401(K) plan in 1979. Since then?

As of June 30, 2017, 401(k) plans held an estimated $5.1 trillion in assets and represented 19 percent of the $26.6 trillion in US retirement assets, which includes employer-sponsored retirement plans … individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and annuities. In comparison, 401(k) assets were $3.0 trillion and represented 17 percent of the US retirement market in 2007.

Employer benefits also include all kinds of health insurance plans. Paid vacations. College education and advanced work-related training reimbursements. Incentives for higher productivity.

The Blessing of a Free Market

Are some people at the very tip-top of the earning scale clawing-in money on the backs of underpaid workers? Yes. But those who do are few in number.

Is the market economy, one based on the idea that human beings are resourceful and do best when free from undue government interference with their lives, perfect? Of course not. Man’s fallenness and limits mean nothing will ever be perfect.

But the alternative advocated by Bernie Sanders and his allies amounts to little more than the unconstitutional seizure of private income to be redistributed by radicals who despise the free market.

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Do we really want to go the way of countries like Argentina and Brazil, resource-rich nations that should be thriving but instead are, in the case of Argentina, actually experiencing starvation and, in both nations, economic chaos?

I vote for the free market. Where innovation cannot be planned. Where income that is earned fairly should be kept by those who receive it. Where injustices are corrected by law and exposure and opportunities occur through courage and risk. Where jobs are created as companies invest, improve products, serve their customers well, and grow.

I’ll take 2017 over 1974, Senator Sanders. How about you?

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