By Anthony Ramirez
The 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders captured the hearts and minds of young American adults—well at least from the looks of it on social media. The talking points of the campaigns supporting free healthcare, free college tuition, debt forgiveness, and $15 minimum wage were popular with young adults who were starting their careers or struggling with college tuition.
However, these challenges can be disputed using resources that currently exist, but require more effort. NerdWallet found that in the 2018-2019 school year, about $2.6 billion in Financial Aid went unclaimed by high school graduates. 1 The study found the numbers after seeing that 1,144,644 students did not take Pell Grant aid for college, meaning those students did not take advantage of roughly $4,000 on average. College Board Research found that in the 2019-2020 numbers, the average 2-year-in-district college cost $3,730, as well as $10,440 for 4-year-in-state. 2 As far as the job market goes, CNBC reported in August of 2019 that we had 1.4 million jobs available. 3
We can see many issues with the policies being praised by Sanders. He is one of the current senators of Vermont where he has also been mayor for the city of Burlington from 1981 to 1989. During this time, he praised practices of authoritarian regimes 4, took a short trip to the Soviet Union with his wife 5, and said that lining up for bread lines is "a good thing". 6 In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, he also considered that we should learn from physicians in Cuba going to help in other countries, as well as their education system is "pretty good". 7
In an article by STAT, it found that doctors in Cuba make about $40 a month. 8 Because of the heavy investments in science by Castro, there are 90,000 doctors, which they say is the most per capita in the world. Thanks to the overabundance of doctors, Cuba sends them to other countries to make money not for themselves, but for the Cuban government. Cuban taxi drivers make more in a day ($60) than doctors do in a month ($40). 9 This is because taxi drivers have a private license, meaning they have to pay higher taxes but don’t work directly for the government. These taxi drivers, pay $20 a day in taxes but can make around $1,500 a month. 10 This means taxi drivers could make a $900 profit after taxes, compared to doctors making $40. On top of this, female doctors sent by Cuba overseas have allegedly been raped while abroad. The government job creation is also an idea found in Sanders' campaign, right down to the “create millions of healthcare jobs”. 11
It’s also likely Cuba lies about its education system. In an article by EducationNext, it found that education didn’t seem to improve from grade level to grade level like other countries: “In Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, 4th graders score 22 to 25 points higher than 3rd graders, indicating learning gains of about a half a standard deviation in the course of one year. 12 But the students attending Cuba’s marvelous schools gained only 5 points, not enough to achieve statistical significance… An alternative explanation for this unusual phenomenon is that teachers were correcting the answers so that many students, in both 3rd and 4th grades, were obtaining perfect or near-perfect scores.”
The article concludes that cheating is likely “to deceive credulous sympathizers is in the national interest, as understood from [Castro’s] point of view.”
Sanders continued to praise Cuba’s literacy program in an interview with "60 Minutes". 13
To add more to his history in supporting the Castro regime, Sanders said in an interview with the University of Vermont’s college newspaper The Gadfly in 1987 that a speech by John F. Kennedy and his disdain for the Cuban revolution made him nauseous. 14
The main points he puts forth that seem to catch the eyes of young adults are universal healthcare and free college tuition. To be able to fund these ideas, Sanders has said he would tax all income above $29,000. Considering median household income in the US hovers around $60,000 each year, this would mean the tax hike to fund such a plan would affect a large number of citizens. He believes they "would be delighted to pay more in taxes" in exchange for health insurance. This is a difficult claim to make because: 1. People making above $29,000 will most likely have health insurance as over 90% of citizens already have health insurance, 2. People would not want to willingly pay more in taxes just for their neighbors to have it, otherwise, they would donate the money and 3. The top 5 health issues in America today are preventable through proper nutrition and exercise, meaning higher taxes are likely being used on nutrition issues that could have been prevented. 15
Sanders supports the free healthcare provided in the UK. A study by Reuters Health found the severe differences in care between the private medical centers of the US and NHS service in England. 16 Based on the information gathered between 2006 and 2012 for abdominal and intestinal surgeries, the 136,047 in England vs 1.8 million admissions in the US showed England patients were 4x more likely to have noncorrective care on ruptured aortic aneurysm and 8x more likely with appendicitis than patients in the US. Hospital mortality rates for a perforated esophagus was 11% in England, 5% higher than the US’s 6% mortality rate at that time. The article concludes: “The researchers say limited resources in England’s socialized healthcare system could explain a more “frugal approach to utilization of interventional treatment,” but they note they did not look at the role of doctors’ choices about care.”
Wait times are also a big issue with universal healthcare by the NHS. In an article by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, it’s stated that: “Figures published today [March 14, 2019] show there were 227,569 patients waiting over six months, and 36,857 patients waiting over nine months, to start planned NHS treatment in January 2019, according NHS performance data published today. This is an increase of 30.7% and 38.7% respectively on the same period last year.” 17
Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, covers in a Forbes article that these waiting times cause deadly situations: “Wait times for cancer treatment -- where timeliness can be a matter of life and death -- are also far too lengthy. According to January NHS England data, almost 25% of cancer patients didn't start treatment on time despite an urgent referral by their primary care doctor...British cancer patients fare worse than those in the United States. Only 81% of breast cancer patients in the United Kingdom live at least five years after diagnosis, compared to 89% in the United States. Just 83% of patients in the United Kingdom live five years after a prostate cancer diagnosis, versus 97% here in America.” 18
Free college tuition caused professors to leave their jobs in Venezuela because the government-paid jobs weren’t paying enough and the budgets for education were cut. Free college also decreases the value of all college degrees as more people will have them in the job market. Degrees are seen by employers as a measure of cost and time the individual is willing to put into something. This would mean that, over time, an associate degree would be worth in the future about as much as a high school diploma is worth today. 19
Sanders looks to Nordic countries as models of socialism: "We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people." However, they are not socialist countries. The Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen has said because of Sanders’ comments: “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” A former Swedish prime minister also warned Sanders about the dangers of socialism.
On the topic of jobs, Sanders claimed that “Millions of Americans are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive” when people holding more than one job is about 5%. Let’s not forget the controversy Sanders had when he was found to not be paying his staffers $15 minimum wage, despite having a $15 minimum wage being one of his biggest topic discussions during campaigns. As a side note, California has shown why raising the minimum wage is a bad idea.
Sanders has a long history of praising communist regimes, dictators, and even suggesting the US should adopt practices from these governments with failing economies and poor citizens who were once promised wealth. As a closing statement as to why his ideas modeled after these regimes would never work, remember that you constantly see people fleeing socialist countries like Cuba or Venezuela to come live in America, not the other way around.
Anthony Ramirez is a proud Latino Texan who has worked with his community on physical fitness to better their hearts and writes articles to better their minds. Anthony writes and researches to get out the facts and disprove misinformation. Anthony has researched, and debunked myths regarding Herbalife, student loan debt, UBI, and he looks to do the same with socialism.