The Smell of Statism
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, now running for President as a Democrat (and thus forcing the Democrats to take some ownership of having had an avowed Socialist in their Senate caucus for the past decade plus) thinks that America’s children are starving due to too many brands of deodorant. No, really – here’s the full Q&A:
HARWOOD: If the changes that you envision in tax policy, in finance, breaking up the banks, were to result in a more equitable distribution of income, but less economic growth, is that trade-off worth making?
SANDERS: Yes. If 99 percent of all the new income goes to the top 1 percent, you could triple it, it wouldn’t matter much to the average middle class person. The whole size of the economy and the GDP doesn’t matter if people continue to work longer hours for low wages and you have 45 million people living in poverty. You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on. People scared to death about what happens tomorrow. Half the people in America have less than $10,000 in savings. How do you like that? That means you have an automobile accident, you have an illness, you’re broke. How do you retire if you have less than $10,000, and you don’t have much in the way of Social Security?
Now, there’s a lot of things wrong with Sanders’ call for a return to the 90% top income tax rate – the best you can say is that he’s running for President because Yakov Smirnoff is getting desperately short on new material – but let’s focus specifically on that deodorant thing.
You know why America has so many brands of deodorant? Because we’re a very diverse country. Bernie Sanders, being a 73-year-old white guy from a 95% white state, may not know this, but women buy different deodorants than men do, and people of different racial and ethnic groups tend to have different needs and wants as well when it comes to deodorant, shaving cream, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. Race is an artificial category because it’s only skin deep, but hygiene is skin deep too, and people with different skin and hair have different needs to care for their skin and their hair and whatnot. (Ask any black man about his shaving needs, or any Irishman about sunburns, and you’ll know what I mean).
And here’s a more serious point about diversity: in a free market, it doesn’t matter if our political leaders don’t know this stuff. You can sell hair straighteners and respiration masks (hello, Chinese immigrants) and all sorts of things that cater to the different needs of different niche markets, and if some guy in a Senate office in Washington has no clue, that doesn’t matter. But the more the government gets involved in the economy, the more those kinds of local, neighborhood needs get forgotten because powerful people don’t know anybody who buys that stuff.
So leave the rest of us alone, Bernie Sanders. Your economic theories stink.