Bernie Sanders

I may be the only person who hoped Trump was elected and who also hopes Bernie Sanders is elected, albeit for different reasons. Obama was a master statesman intelligent and articulate he served words like heroin to a population that stood as addicts craving what they wanted to hear. Although Hillary Clinton was less skilled than Obama, she was talented enough to feed the soft left that constitutes the affiliates of the democratic party. I wanted Trump to be elected because I anticipated it would lead to greater interest among the population in matters of the state.

What I did not anticipate is the extent with which greater interest would center on Trump himself and not issues associated with the state. I under estimated the degree with which a president could become the center of attention by twittering falsehoods and making statements so absurd that even the republican party would distance itself from the assertions. Trump provides the perfect cover for the actions of his administration, at least in the first two years, where news centered around his twitter account with minor attention given to policy. Children needed to be separated from their parents and put into detention centers in order for substance to over take the superficial. With a short memory, Trump reinforces the idea of American greatness, not through fulfillment of his slogan, but as the focus of America’s shortcomings. What I mean is the perception becomes the problem isn’t the United States, not the systems and intents, but Trump himself. All that came before was good, and all will be well again once he is impeached, voted out, or reaches his term limit.

There are two reasons I would like to see Sanders elected. The first has more to do with what Sanders won’t do as president. He won’t implement a policy of separating children from their asylum seeking parents and put them in detention. (1) He won’t appoint someone affiliated oil (Pruitt) or a coal lobbyist (Andrew Wheeler) to head the EPA. He won’t appoint a climate denier (William Happer) to head a panel tasked with the question of how climate change affects national security. He won’t push to allow oil and gas drilling on protected public lands, or open up the Atlantic ocean to oil companies.

I was inclined to say Sander won’t punish the populations of foreign countries for the purpose of regime change as is being done most notably in Venezuela and Iran, but his history doesn’t preclude this possibility. Sanders voted for the murderous sanctions against Iraq that killed over a million people, half of which were children under the age of 5, after the effects of the sanctions were understood. In addition to voting to tighten the sanctions, the bill he supported also made it the official policy of the United States to pursue regime change in Iraq and authorized a bombing campaign in Iraq in 1998. (2)

Bernie voted for sanctions against the Palestinians, which was the suspension of international aid and the prohibition of all financial transactions with Hamas. (3) This undertaking was intent on punishing the population for the election of a decisive Hamas majority in Gaza. Principally, Bernie is for punishing civilian populations when they fail to represent US interests, and with this in mind, he is for influencing populations to not exercise their right to self determination if the exercise of that right will undermine US goals.

It is also interesting to note that while Bernie can be quoted as mildly condemning Israel for shooting unarmed civilians and “overreacting”, if you explore the citation from the previous paragraph (3), Bernie has a long history of voting for resolutions that condemn the Palestinians and excuse and affirm support for Israel.

President Bernie would likely seek the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, although Representative Sanders, voted for sanctions against Iran in 1995(4) which is effectively a vote to violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The three pillars of the NPT are nonproliferation which means countries with nuclear weapons do not share weapons technology or weapons with other countries, and countries without nuclear weapons do not develop nuclear weapons. The second pillar is disarmament, meaning nations with weapons should be making a “good faith” effort towards disarmament. The US and every other nation violates this treaty through expansion of their nuclear arsenal and the complete abandonment of any effort towards disarmament. The third pillar states that signers of the treaty have “the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and benefit from international cooperation in this area, in conformity of their nonproliferation obligations.”

In 1995 Iran was in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations, and as signers of the NPT, the United States violates the treaty by imposing sanctions on Iran for their pursuit of a peaceful nuclear program. It violates Iran’s right to nuclear energy, and it is a violation for undermining “international cooperation in this area”. Sanders aside, the Clinton Administration further undermined that cooperation by persuading China and Russia to renege on deals made with Iran to supply reactors and other material related to the process.(5) Of course the United States doesn’t respect international law, much less international treaties.

To be fair, the 1995 sanction imposed on Iran were also for Iran’s support of Hamas and Hezbollah, but it doesn’t exclude that the stated aim of the sanctions was Iran’s nuclear program, and the real aim was to limit Iranian development and influence in the region. This secondary reason for the sanctions also reinforces the assertion that Sanders is for punishing the populations of nations for the actions of their government, even when said punishment won’t prevent the government from continuing action for which the population is being punished.

As I said, I am inclined to write that Sanders would remove the sanctions on Venezuela (presuming the elected regime lasts as long) and Iran, reestablishing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but as I highlighted concerning his record on Palestine, candidate Sanders and President Sanders may do completely different things if history is any indicator of the future. I am actually confident he would reverse the sanctions in both situations. I’m using the current events to mildly direct attention to Sanders record foreign policy record.

The foreign policy of the democrats and the republicans is same despite the rhetoric. In 2016 Sanders repeated the line “regime change has unintended consequences”. Sanders has voted for regime change while in congress, in 1998 to make regime change to official policy of the United States in Iraq, and most recently in 2011.

The issue isn’t that Sanders has been in support of regime change and speaks out against it. The issue is with the statement itself. Regime change does not have unintended consequences, the consequences of regime change are the intended result. Sanders assertion reinforces the misconception that the US intentions abroad are good. Either Sanders is lying or he doesn’t understand foreign policy. Considering his 30 year tenure in congress, the latter is very unlikely.

The first reason I support Sanders presidency is because he would reverse much of what Trump has done thus far which would have an impact on the quality of life for some people and have a positive effect on the environment.

By now the reader probably recognizes I don’t “feel the Bern”. The second reason I would like to see Sanders elected is so people who feel the Bern, can feel the burn, when after 8 years of rhetoric they live in country much the same as it was in 2020.

American politics is like a night club. Some nights your group picks the band and other nights another group picks the band. Everyone affiliated with one group or the other gets to hear music they like, but the owners are still in charge of how the club operates.

Members of the Sanders cult praise his success for roll call amendments to bills, they cite this success as the demonstration of his ability to work with both parties to pass legislation. I frequently ask what President Sanders will accomplish in 4 or 8 years that Representative or Senator Sanders couldn’t accomplish in 30? I ask this question because in 30 years Sanders has introduced 357 bills. Of the 357 bills he introduced only 12 made it to the floor. Of the 12 that made it to the floor only 3 became law. Of the 3 that became law, 2 were changing the names of post offices. The sole bill of any significance that did pass, was The Veterans Cost of Living Adjustment Compensation Act of 2013.(6) It is not an original bill, but a bill that is passed every few years to increase veterans benefits.

Bernie Sanders in 30 years has failed to pass a single bill to represent that righteous indignation against corporate greed, economic inequality, political corruption, and health care for some. Yet there are millions of Americans who think he is going to deliver a national 15 dollars an hour minimum wage, Medicare for all, an end to money in politics, a Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, raising the estate tax on the wealthy, federal decriminalization of marijuana among other promises.

It’s really amazing I’m not rich. I mean given the gullibility of this population, I should be selling magic beans making a killing. Instead, I’m writing about politics to inform, provide insight, and draw attention to myself and my material in the interest of changing a world I am so dissatisfied with, I’m left with no other choice. Money is merely a tool to sustain myself and finance the ambition of realizing a world worth living in and being a part of.

But maybe if your biggest concern is the naming of a post office, Bernie has a proven track record of accomplishing that feat. I can’t say it as a fact because I don’t know if any of the other bills he introduced were post office names, but I think he’s 2 for 2 on those. If you want a post office named, this guy is going to get that fucking post office named.

I don’t know if Bernie is sincere in his intent, but what I do know, is Bernie knows, he will not be able to deliver on his promises if elected. People have this misconception about politicians. They believe politicians are sincere, they take their words and acting at face value. Bernie enjoys the game of politics. He enjoys the attention and the power of performing in front of groups of people. He has been in office for almost 30 years and he is capitalizing on the opportunity to play the game at the highest level.

Even with a house and senate controlled by the democrats the promises of his platform will not pass. The majority of democrats by a wide margin represent the interests responsible for electing them. The best case scenario is a 15 dollar per hour minimum wage, but even the passage would be minimally impactful as it would no doubt be stipulated that the increase will be implemented incrementally, probably over a 10 year period or longer.

Decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level is very possible. It is possible because tobacco companies are interested in Marijuana.(7) Meaning any bill introduced for the decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level will likely receive support from tobacco. With the private prison industry moving away from housing inmates into immigration detention centers and rehabilitation programs, the decriminalization of marijuana does not adversely affect that interest. The only real interest that is adversely affected is bureaucratic, being the agencies responsible for the enforcement of marijuana laws who may see a reduced budget or cut backs in personnel, but more likely reassignment.

Medicare for all will not pass. Medicare for all deeply imposes on the market share of private health insurers and could mean the end of private heath insurance altogether. I say imposes on because although the same service is offered for 15 to 20% less through Medicare (8), the version of Medicare for All authored by Pramila Jayapal, is an undertaking to reduce the cost of health care in general through negotiating costs. Meaning some hospitals and doctors may refuse to provide services at a reduced rate which will ensure private insurers for exclusive care facilities.

Beyond the health insurance industries ability to influence the voting habits of congress, is the ability of the health insurance industry to influence the opinions of the public. Before lobbyists had the public option removed from The Affordable Care Act, there were senseless discussion of government death panels, and worrying about the government deciding what would be covered. The ability for critical analysis has long been absent from this population. Whether a person works for the government or whether they work for an insurance company it is still a person who is making the decision. Would you rather have a person working from guidelines directed from an entity that is incentivized by profit in denying coverage, or, a person directed by an entity that is not incentivized by profit to decide what is covered?

Opposition will exist from within through lobbying, and it will be strengthened from without through the manufacture of dissent from people fooled into being opposed to their own interest.

I won’t speculate on the Green New Deal because the GND is nothing more than a list of goals, vague guidelines, and the creation of a committee.

Bernie intends to break up the banks by imposing a limit on the size of a bank. First, the financial sector is the number 1 contributor of campaign contributions with virtually no party bias: 52.5 percent of their money going to republicans and 47.2 percent going to democrats.(9) You have a better chance of finding ice in a lava pool than you do of breaking up the banks. Imposing size limits on the banks cannot be done exclusively through the executive branch which requires the approval of numerous people tied to the financial sector for Bernie to use the provision he has cited within the Dodd Frank. (10)

Second, which relates more to this series of articles, is how does breaking up the banks improve the lives of most people? For the woman working for 9 dollars an hour cleaning hotel rooms in the south, the size of the banks have little to do with her quality of life? Little to nothing even if such action prevented another financial crisis precipitated by dubious practices.

If the size of banks were capped prior to 2007 in regard to the value of assets it is unlikely to have prevented the 2008 mortgage backed securities crisis. In all likelihood it may have made the crisis more difficult to address being spread out across more firms. The crisis begins with loans made to clients who would become unable to repay the loans. Prior to reaching arrears the mortgages are packaged with other mortgages, given falsely high ratings, sold, and insured. When the loans cannot be repaid the insurers of the loans cannot pay the amounts they insured and the holders of the loans have worthless paper defaulted on by the borrowers. The housing market is flooded with homes driving down the value of the collateral and the banks and insurance companies involved in the process are ruined. Instead of too big to fail maybe you have too small to be saved and you have collapse of the financial sector. Or more likely, you have a bail out of more firms, which is more costly because you don’t have banks of the scale required to acquire other failing banks.

Does a cap value on the size of banks and insurance companies prevent the crisis? I don’t see why the crisis wouldn’t have occurred regardless if it was a few large firms that were too big to fail, or if it was spread out among many smaller firms. The fault of the crisis rests with ratings agencies. If the loans in these bundles were properly rated they will go unsold and uninsured. When the loans default the bank that issued the loans will bear the cost of the default which will cause the bank to change lending practices, but will probably also lead to increased flexibility within the terms of the loan to prevent default.

On education, Bernie has expressed intent for free 4 year college for anyone who comes from a family earning less than $125,000 per year. I am definitely for all people having the opportunity for higher education. When I talk about the distinction of interests between the have and have nots, the bulk of what I am talking about is the spending of public funds. For wealth and industry the concerns are subsides, government contracts, and lower taxes. Social spending does not serve their interest because they do not need the assistance. The general societal gains achieved through social spending are of little consequence to them as well because they are largely insulated from the harmful effects of economic inequality, poverty, and ignorance.

Institutions of higher education would be for this measure both on ensuring maximum attendance and to continue the trend of increased tuition rates which are in part a result of subsidizing higher education. This support however has no impact on the chances of Sanders promise of higher education to lower and middle class students because universities do not contribute to political campaigns or lobby. They contribute nothing to the money required to represent the interest in the federal government. This is another promise of Sanders that will go unfulfilled.

In terms of impact, there is another issue concerning education that goes unaddressed. Despite the constant claims of a lack of human capital among the workforce and a workforce lacking skills, only 27 percent of people who graduate college find careers in their field of study. (11) This means the benefit of the opportunity to attend college will not translate into substantially better opportunities for the people who attend college in terms of a fulfilling and prosperous career.

The appeal of Sander is he says things that people want to hear that other politicians won’t say, but he is still a politician. The presidency is an opportunity for Sanders for the advancement his career, not an opportunity to implement a strategy and pass legislation that is going to have the dramatic effects he promises. He enjoys the attention and the opportunity to perform. If he is elected he will play ball and be allowed to pass something, which is why I wrote the best to hope for is the minimum wage increase. The other significant aspect of his presidency would be the degree with which he chooses not to exercise power on behalf of the directors of power, as outlined in the beginning of this article, but it remains to be seen how much ball he will play if elected.

Lastly, I’m not of the opinion that Bernie cannot win the general election. He raised 240 million dollars from primarily from small contributions in the 2016 primary. Not small contributions like Obama that proved to be large contributions broken up into smaller contributions for the appearance of small contributions, but actual small contributions.(12) It is unprecedented, and speaks to his mass appeal. He’ll have to raise 3x that amount to be competitive in the general election, but it certainly isn’t beyond his ability given the fact he raised 6 million in the first day of his campaign.

I do not believe he is the best choice to win from the democratic party in 2020, but he could be. The reason he probably isn’t the best choice is the degree with which people will be mobilized against him. But he could be based on the degree with which segments of the population with low voter turnout like poor people and young people will be encouraged to vote for him. His chances in the general election are determined first and foremost by his ability to raise funds, and the encouragement of voter turnout for him verses the encouragement of voter turn out against him. The latter seems obvious but I make the statement in consideration of Sanders himself, where his positions inspire non-voting segments of the population as well as create ease by which other non-voting segments or undecided segments of the population can be mobilized against him.

I don’t care who you vote for, and as I said, Sanders is probably the best candidate in the field even if BS is mostly bs. The reason for this article isn’t to slam Sanders, but to encourage interest and support for a Center for Economic Planning.(13) Because no matter who is elected president, Centers for Economic Planning are the only way to significantly increase individual opportunity, prosperity, representation in government, and to ensure the planet remains habitable for future generations.

1: Thankfully a Democracy Now broadcast coincided with the detail related to this citation which informed me and allowed me to inform you. According to the author Greg Grandin who wrote “The End of Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” that family separations is not something that began under the Trump Administration. Juan Gonzales: “I wanted to ask you about the family separations, because one of the things that—points in your book is that this tactic of separating families is not new, but, actually, the Border Patrol was doing it back in the ’80s and ’90s and decades ago.” Greg Grandin “Yeah. I mean, there’s nothing that you’re reading about now, under Trump, that is new. The Border Patrol has been on the vanguard of some of the worst, most brutal policies that one can imagine. It just hadn’t been covered. I mean, there were certainly families separated. There’s certainly the tactic of separating children from parents in order to make parents break or confess. There was the releasing of children back into Mexico without any supervision, including U.S. citizens that were accused of not being U.S. citizens. There was sexual terrorism. There was violence and brutality and abuse and beatings and corruption. The INSwas riddled with corruption through the 1970s and 1980s. You know, there’s nothing—Trump politicized the issue. Trump turned it into national spectacle…” I may be wrong about Sanders changing a policy that he somewhat presided over as representative and senator that has been occurring for 30 years or more. Democracy Now. “Greg Grandin “ The End of Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” Broadcast 3/7/19.

2: CounterPunch “Blood Traces: Bernie’s Iraq War Hypocrisy.” By Jeffery St. Clair. 2/16/16

3: Mondoweiss “Bernie Sanders’ Record on Palestine” Nicolas Sawaya 4/8/2016

4: New York Times “Clinton to Order Trade Embargo Against Teheran”, by Todd S Purdum, – 5/1/1995 Sanders vote yea

5: The Nuclear Threat Initiative “Iran” May of 2018. Iranian leaders began refocusing on nuclear technology acquisition in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Iran signed long-term nuclear cooperation agreements with Pakistan and China, in 1987 and 1990 respectively. …the U.S. government has actively pressured potential suppliers to limit nuclear cooperation with Iran. As a result, China did not ultimately supply Iran with the research reactor, the two Qinshan power reactors, or the uranium conversion plant it had previously offered Iran. The United States also blocked Iran’s agreement with Argentina for uranium enrichment and heavy water production facilities. Russia and Iran signed a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement in August 1992. President Bill Clinton expressed concerns about the technology transfers to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who eventually agreed to scale back Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation at least until Bushehr’s construction had been completed. Sources: Joseph Cirincione, Jon Wolfsthal and Miriam Rajkumar, “Iran,” in Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats (Washington, DC, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), p. 303, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005), p. 13. Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005), p. 13.

6: Wafflesatnoon How Many Bernie Sanders Bills Have Passed? 2/4/2016

7: Forbes “Potential Big Tobacco Acquisition Causes Cannabis Stocks to Soar”. Sara Brittney Summerset, 12/8/2018

8: “insurers skim off 15-20 percent of premium dollars for administrative costs and profits” (Health Insurance Industry Fudges Data to Downplay its Astronomical Profits. Think Progress, by Igor Volsky) which is also confirmed by 2009 SEC filings of 5 of the largest health insurance firms which report medical loss ratios of just over 81 to 85 percent, ( Page 7)

9: Center for Responsive Politics “Totals by Sector”. source: FEC

10: VOX “Bernie Sanders Break Up of the Banks Explained”. By Matthew Yglesias. 1/21/16.

11: The Washington Post “Only 27 Percent of College Grads Have a Job Related to Their Major”. By Brad Plummer, 3/20/2013 The source was not cherry picked as the date may suggest being nearly 6 years and is likely not completely representative of the trend today, although I doubt whatever increase that has taken place is more than a few percentage points. I searched a number of pages and this was the most recent source I could find on people finding employment in their field of study.

12: Industrial Structure and Party Competition in the Age of Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Election. Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgenson, and Jie Chen. “Sanders stands out not only for the high percentage of small contributions, but the minuscule totals of large contributions in the aggregate. Later in this essay, when we consider the sectoral breakdown of contributions, we will see that the handful of small donations scattered among our counts of big business contributions to Sanders clearly derive from many lower level employees, not top management. The few large contributions arise from aggregated contributions from a handful of unions (the official union leadership of most unions supported Hillary Clinton, see below). In 2016, Bernie Sanders was sui generis – not at all comparable to Ron Paul, whose 2012 campaign was hoisted aloft in part by a Super PAC funded by Peter Thiel and other mega-donors (Ferguson et al., 2013). He was exactly what he appeared to be, something truly new under the American sun.”