Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has attracted a significant following among young blue and white collar democrats and independents during his run for President. They like his messages about income inequality and about holding large banks and Wall Street accountable for the recession and subsequent low employment. Those who are struggling to make a living in this uneven and slow growth economy and those who can not find a job or start a business are attracted to his ideas about helping low and middle class gain more wealth. Essentially, Sanders is arguing the first counterclaim against a monopoly of wealth in the hands of the top 1% as described by Michael Walzer in his article Complex Equality, in Property, Profit and Justice. The dominant good is wealth, and it should be redistributed because wealth in the hands of the few is unjust.
Two concerns struck when hearing the message of Bernie Sanders. The first is why politicians find it necessary to demonize the wealthy in order to create greater wealth for the middle class. Why can’t the middle class gain wealth along with the wealthy? Sanders says the following in his campaign website under “Income and Wealth Inequality”: The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class has rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country. He goes on to state how he would reduce income and wealth inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, a tax on wealthy estates and a tax on “Wall Street speculators”. This money would then be spent on a variety of programs to provide better pay and job programs. We are not told exactly what rules he means or how the rules were rigged. Instead the need to demonize or make the rich unpopular is required so that unhappy people believe the middle to upper class are responsible and should pay up. I don’t really see how one group of people could be responsible; Wall Street has always been regulated and capitalism and the desire for wealth drives everyone to get rich whether or not they work in the financial industry. I doubt very much there is any grand scheme by rich people on Wall Street specifically trying to keep money out of the hands of the many.
My second concern is that since 2008 the government has run the show on Wall Street and at large banks and that income inequality is really due to the federal government’s own policies. In other words, the middle class is not gaining wealth because the government has made it too hard to open or run a business, get a bank loan or mortgage, or take more cash home because so much must be paid on transportation and health care. I’m for scraping all government rules and regulations and starting over.
I live in an affluent area outside New York City where the housing market was greatly affected by the financial crisis, those on and off Wall Street took a hit and higher priced homes stood still and do not sell. To the this day the housing market will not be where it was prior to 2008, which is scary to think about all those people never getting their money back if they bought right before the downfall. To tie this point in, if Sanders view is used then those people who have earned their life savings and now trying to get the money on their homes back, will not be able to. This is because funding and other financial ventures will be spent on those who are struggling. It could be argued that this will create an even bigger problem and even more people will be struggling and not thriving.
While in terms of inspiring change the ideas of Sanders is something to think about and put into place but on the financial end we must keep in mind that being so freeing has its negative effects on the people who are being taxed and paying the most for everyone else.