When Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary last week, one of the commentators talked about how the senator believes there is a conspiracy afoot. He argues that the reason we have so much income inequality is due to the fact that the billionaire class has “rigged” the economy.
He makes it sound like this is a uniquely American problem. It is not. You can find similar gains by the “one percent” in places like Canada, the U.K., and some other European countries. And we might mention that most of the increase in income inequality over the last quarter century took place when fellow Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were president.
His conspiracy is rather paranoid, don’t you think? There are only a few hundred billionaires in America. We are to believe that this small, secretive cabal rigged the system so they can get ahead, but you cannot.
These billionaires made their wealth by designing software you use on your computer, by buying land and developing it, by building stores that sell goods at the lowest possible price, and by developing new and more efficient ways to extract oil and gas from the ground.
Bernie Sanders ignores most of these billionaires but talks about people and banks on Wall Street that speculate. As I mentioned in the previous commentary, that is why a movie like The Big Short helps his campaign. It tells the story of some investors who bet against the housing market because they concluded it would fail.
So far the opponents of Bernie Sanders (Hillary Clinton or the future Republican nominee) have not critiqued his billionaire class conspiracy. The response has generally gone like this: “That’s fine Uncle Bernie. No go back to your bed in the basement, and we will call you when dinner is ready.”
It’s time for some candidates and some pundits to address his billionaire class conspiracy with some facts and common sense. The voters need to know the flaws in this conspiracy.