On January 30, a geology professor at the University of Oklahoma named David Deming published an article attacking the economic and political system of socialism and condemning the use of socialist policies in the United States.
This article was primarily aimed at targeting Bernie Sanders and his supporters; the opening line being “It’s disheartening that an avowed socialist is a viable candidate for the president of the United States.” He goes on to proclaim that the education system in the United States has failed to educate the youth about the dangers of socialism and the perils that will be wrought on any nation that attempts to implement socialist policies. According to him, “Socialism is a dead-end. For hundreds of years it has failed everywhere it’s been adopted.”
There are several glaring faults with his argument, starting with the statement above being blatantly false. Socialism has been employed very effectively for decades in the Scandinavian countries. These countries boast far less income inequality and reduced poverty rates relative to those in the United States.
In terms of the Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the highest amount of income inequality possible), Sweden has one of the lowest coefficients in the world at 25, while the United States has a coefficient of 41.1. To put that in perspective, the country with the highest Gini coefficient is Brazil with a 53.1.
Professor Deming cites the fall of the Soviet Union and the current status of Venezuela as examples of the inadequacies of socialism. The economic and social downfall of these countries is apparent, but these countries were not prototypical socialist countries. They employed communism, which is one of the most extreme forms of socialism.
“Socialism” can refer to a fairly wide range of economic policies. You cannot compare the policies of the Soviet Union to those of Bernie Sanders. There is an enormous difference in Sanders wanting to raise the minimum wage to reduce income inequality and Stalin creating a command economy with himself at the helm.
The types of policies Sanders is proposing are incomparable to those used in the Soviet Union for both the reason stated above, and the fact that Sanders is a democratic-socialist, not a full-fledged proponent of socialism.
The economic system of the United States would not change under Sanders’ policies. We would continue to have a free market economy, but Sanders would take steps to improve current social issues, such as the poverty rate and income gap. As of now, the top twenty percent of Americans hold more than eighty percent of the total wealth in the country. This rate is growing every year, and Sanders wants to implement policies to bridge the gap.
Professor Deming does make one point in his article that is hard to argue with: the education system is obviously failing. If someone can draw comparisons between the policies of Bernie Sanders and those of Joseph Stalin, there has been an extreme lack of adequate education somewhere down the line.
The way Professor Deming has lumped Bernie Sanders in with entities such as the Soviet Union and Venezuela is representative of the misguided view of Bernie Sanders that is held by many Americans. Sanders has no intention of turning us into a country like the Soviet Union, or even Sweden for that matter; he simply wants what is best for the American people.