Sander’s “Crazy” Ideas: Most of Which Other Developed Nations Have Already Implemented

BURLINGTON, VT - MAY 26: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) waves to supporters after officially announcing his candidacy for the U.S. presidency during an event at Waterfront Park May 26, 2015 in Burlington, Vermont. Sanders will run as a Democrat in the presidential election and is former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonÕs first challenger for the Democratic nomination. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In this hotly contested primary campaign, we hear Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for U.S. president, promoting social initiatives that most of the other 31 developed nations of the world, primarily in Europe and Scandinavia, have implemented over past decades.

Sanders stands alone among the various candidates, both the Republicans and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in making substantive recommendations to bring America up to the standards set by its fellow Western nations. But the dinosauric Republicans scoff at his proposals and call them unrealistic. Hillary Clinton dismisses them as far too ambitious and challenges Sanders to show how he would pay for them.

Let’s review some of these ideas that Sanders is trying to sell to the American people. He continues to stress that America needs to develop a universal health care system in which all Americans have medical coverage. But that’s the last thing in the world the Republicans want, a world-class health care system, while Hillary says that everything is just fine as is.

Republicans condemn that idea because, in their minds, it would be just another socialist program run by the government; never mind that socialism is alive and well in America as evidenced by the following very important and successful social programs and organizations: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, police enforcement agencies, teachers, and, yes, the U.S. military. In fact, Sanders does not want to add another social program, he simply wants to expand Medicare for all Americans and substantially lower overall costs for everyone.

What else does this visionary, forward –thinking individual want to bring to this country? Well, he also wants to create decent paying jobs, millions of which would come from hiring American workers to repair and rebuild our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure; he wants a living wage for all Americans, he wants to restore the middle class, the heart of America; he says we need to address America’s massive inequality of wealth and income.

And there is even more: Sanders believes that, above all, we need to completely remove Corporate America’s money, power and influence from our government, he wants free tuition for students at public/community colleges, far more assistance for veterans, a greatly improved system of justice, addressing climate change as well as developing solar power.

Sander’s message seems to be resonating with a rapidly growing number of Americans who see his proposals as being a great benefit to this country; positive, constructive measures that will make this country stronger and more advanced. The millennials really like what they hear and are getting behind the Sander’s movement.

Let’s look at some of these areas where America lags behind their fellow Western nations. Check out this article and the map which shows the countries that provide universal health care to their citizens. It looks like the vast majority of the nations of the civilized world provide medical coverage for all of their citizens but America is not one of them. It is on a par with the continent of Africa and parts of Asia.

What about free education for college students? Well, most of these developed nations have free college tuition or offer generous subsidies for their students. Here is an article that lists seven countries that offer free tuition to their own students and, if you can believe it, they also offer it to foreign students, including Americans. Here’s a headline from “Why American College Students Are Flocking to Germany — and Staying; Because they are getting free tuition.”

What a contrast; free education for American students in Germany while here in America our students are weighed down with a total tuition debt of over $1.2 trillion. Something is really rotten and it sure isn’t in Denmark.

We could go on and on with various programs that other nations have and America does not have. Sometimes the truth is too painful to accept and many of us lapse into a state of denial, refusing to acknowledge that these countries are way ahead of us; ahead because they set their priorities first and foremost in line with the needs and wants of their people.

Here in America the many craven politicians embedded in the Establishment will fight tooth and nail to prevent Sanders or anyone else from implementing some or all of these revolutionary changes. They don’t want a living wage, a $15 an hour minimum wage; they have no inclination to create jobs for millions of Americans, they have no interest whatsoever in the development of solar power and they are perfectly content with the power and control that Corporate America holds over this failed government. They are stuck in the quagmire of their own shallow thinking.

Our national priorities are really twisted. Sanders has made it clear that the funding for free college tuition would come from a small tax on Wall Street speculative transactions; and universal health care will involve combining the current Medicare, Obamacare and private medical insurance system into one, which will greatly reduce waste and redundant procedures, resulting in much lower costs for Americans.

There is no question but that America has more than enough wealth to afford the societal advancements that Sanders is recommending. If all those 31 other developed nations can do these things then the richest country in the world should also be able to do so. It’s all about setting priorities for the good of all Americans.

Yes, it’s a matter of priorities; it’s about our country, this society and its people. The big difference between the U.S. and the other developed nations is that none of the latter spends huge amounts of taxpayer dollars on their military establishments. Many are a part of NATO but, otherwise, their priorities are concentrated on domestic needs and issues.

Now where else could this government find the necessary funding for other Sander’s initiatives? In a recent article, I documented the massive amount of taxpayer dollars that this government spends for the military and for the granting of subsidies and tax breaks to corporations.

Talk about waste! Why did our government spend $500 million for our largest embassy in Baghdad? What a boondoggle. Why has it spent over $400 billion for the problem-plagued F35 fighter jet program, with billions more appropriated? Why does this government continue to allow giant corporations to evade taxation by using overseas tax havens and tax inversions? It’s because the do-nothing, deadbeat members of Congress are too busy groveling at the feet of Corporate America to corral the campaign contributions that it dangles before them.

Yes, the funding needed to implement many of Sander’s recommendations is there for the taking; it just happens to be invested in many of the wrong places; the amount of government waste is staggering. All we need to do is to join the rest of the developed nations in the world by changing our current misguided priorities to ones that primarily benefit this country and its people, not the giant corporations and the misnamed “defense” industry.

This is a critical period in American history. It’s time for the people of this country to use their massive power to turn this country in these new directions.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.