Bernie and Socialism and how to Pay for that Stuff

First off, let me say I’m glad Bernie is running for president. Even if he doesn’t win the nomination, it gives the grownups a chance to talk about substantive issues and debate what economic path the US could pursue if it wasn’t being run by crooks and about to be overrun by crazies.

Bernie likes to talk about the ideal socialism, which is, more or less, everybody in a group making sure that everyone else in the group is taken care of. Families do it all the time. It’s not inherently a bad thing. But it’s expensive from a traditional government-does-it point of view, and we have to figure out how to pay for it.

Also, Everybody Knows™* that Socialism enables lazy people. More on that another day. Bernie’s supporters point to reasonably successful socialist governments over in Europe and say that it could be that way here, too. After all, they seem to be able to afford it. What’s the difference?

There’s something no one mentions. Not even Bernie. Your tax dollars and mine are supporting those lovely socialist nations in Europe. We pay for much of the defense and security of Europe, top to bottom, east to west. We took on the burden in a grandiose, “I am the king of the world!” period at the end of World War Two. And we did a damn good job of it, too. When was the last time Europe went seventy years without a major war? Never, that’s when. Seriously. Never.

Mission accomplished. You’re welcome, Europe!

But now as the economies of Europe become ever more integrated, maybe the mission isn’t the same as it was. Maybe those happy prosperous nations can pay for their own defense. Maybe we can turn some of that military money to achieving our own paradise. The simple fact is that we already help fund prosperous socialist countries. They’re just not this country.

I propose a fundamental change in mission for our nation’s military. For the last seven decades we have tasked ourselves with maintaining world peace, and we’ve done a pretty damn good job, overall. There are exceptions, but remember: seventy years with no major war in Europe. Boo-yah! High-five, all you who have served. But it’s time to let Europe and Japan look after themselves. It’s time stop subsidizing Toyota and Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz by lifting a load off their governments’ obligations. The money they don’t spend on tanks is money they spend on day care and gaining an advantage in the marketplace.

So we stop paying (as much) for their security. We take the money we save on tanks and airplanes, and spend it on day care, and health care, and veterans’ benefits. We have the money to put everyone through college. We can get homeless servicemen, the ones who achieved this incredible period of peace, and find shelter and medical care for them. The United States is wealthy enough to give everyone health care. It’s just that right now we spend the money on other stuff. On an obsolete military mandate.

But Bernie, EVEN BERNIE, can’t bring himself to suggest this out loud. He can’t even suggest that we might cut our losses on terrible weapon systems whose only mission is to cost money. (Watch this space for a special feature on the F-35 ‘Flying Turd’.)

And that’s why I have a hard time contemplating voting for Bernie. If he was really who he says he is, he’d have the balls to take on the completely corrupt defense procurement machine. If we only paid for the weapons that worked, we could cut our budget by hundreds of billions. HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS! And our military will still be just as mighty, because it would be using functional equipment! And Bernie should have the huevos to suggest that maybe Japan could pay for its own army. But he doesn’t. And until I find a candidate who has that resolve, I can’t take any of the other social reform promises seriously. Because until we stop spending so much on defending other countries, and we stop pouring money into flawed weapons, we simply can’t afford the other stuff, much as I wish we could.
* Many of the things that Everyone Knows are in fact false.