Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


“Free Stuff is a Terrible Argument Against Bernie”

Oddly, the worst argument U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is one of the most common.

The terrible argument is the charge that Bernie’s democratic socialist agenda consists of a giveaway of “free stuff.” The argument is that Sanders’ agenda is wrong because it gives people “something for nothing.” Specifically, Sanders plans to provide more government services such as health care and college education without pay for them.

On the surface, this argument sounds moral. However, “free stuff” is a ridiculous argument because everybody who makes it receives “free stuff” from the government.

Free Stuff Our Government Gives Away

The truth is that our government already gives away vast amounts of goods and services. The free stuff our gives away includes:

  • Public roads and highways. Most of these have no toll booths, so anybody with a vehicle can drive on them.
  • Public trails.
  • Public parks. Most of these are free to enter and use.
  • The fire department. It provides free rescue and fire-fighting services to all citizens.
  • Law enforcement. The local, state, and federal governments provide police forces and agencies that provide free protection to all citizens. These forces and agencies also provide free law and order for all citizens.
  • Ambulance services.
  • K-12 Education. (Elementary, middle, and high school)
  • Public libraries
  • The military. The protection the armed forces provide is free for all citizens.

This is a small sample of the free stuff our government provides. All the people making the free stuff argument against Bernie take advantage of at least of these services. Thus, those people are hypocrites.

How to Argue against Bernie

If you want to argue against any part of Sanders’ agenda tell us why it is a bad idea.

If you think Medicare for All, Free College, or a $15 minimum wage is a bad idea. Tell us why. There are many legitimate arguments against those policies.

Likewise, if you have an ideological case against Bernie. Believing that socialism is wrong, for example. Say so and tell us why.

Free Stuff is a Dumb Argument

In the final analysis, free stuff is a dumb argument for several reasons.

First, free stuff makes Bernie sound good. To explain, Bernie’s critics claim that Sanders can give away services such as college and health care. That gives people a reason to vote for Sanders.

I suspect such clumsy attacks increase Bernie’s popularity. To clarify, I think Conservatives make Bernie’s case by telling voters what Sanders claims he will do for them.

Second, free stuff is a positive argument about Bernie. The word free is a positive word that people respond too. Businesses use the word free in advertising because it attracts buyers. Thus, critics make Sanders sound better with the free stuff argument.

Third, the free stuff argument has no substance. There is no practical, ideological or political case in the free stuff argument. In particular, free stuff does not explain how or why Bernie’s proposals are bad.

Free Stuff is a False Argument

Fourth, free stuff is a false argument because the stuff is not free. For example, we will still need to money to pay college professors and health-care providers under Sanders’ system. Instead, tax increases or new taxes will be necessary to pay for Sanders’ proposals.

Thus, the sensible course for Bernie critics is to concentrate on the taxes. Taxes are negative and unpopular. Free is positive and popular. A good argument against Bernie is to ask Sanders where the money will come from.

Free stuff is a terrible argument. Hopefully, Sanders’ foes will stop making it.