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Los Angeles Times: Relax: Bernie Sanders isn’t trying to turn the US into Venezuela

February 22, 2019

Judging from the dire warnings emanating from Republicans, the Cold War didn’t end when the Berlin Wall fell. Boy, will historians be surprised.

For example, witness President Donald Trump declaring during his State of the Union address, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country” — a vow that echoed the Red scares of the 1950s and ’60s. Or take the reaction from Trump’s campaign committee after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, announced Tuesday that he would run again for the White House: “Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism.”

A true socialist government takes over the means of production in a country, owning all the factories, employing all the workers and dictating prices and wages. There are few purely socialist societies around the world today — Venezuela and Cuba may come closest — just as there are few purely capitalist ones. But far more governments favor free markets and free people because over time they’ve been far more effective at generating wealth and prosperity than centrally planned economies. Which doesn’t mean that free markets invariably produce the desired results.

The Democratic Party’s liberal wing, which has become more assertive since Sanders’ 2016 campaign, often argues that the government ought to do more to solve such problems as climate change, rising healthcare costs and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Some problems, they argue, simply aren’t addressed by the market. Republicans are free to retort that pushing the federal government more deeply into those arenas wouldn’t be helpful or cost-effective. But exploring these ideas is hardly a step down a slippery slope that leads to ruin — or Venezuela. The free market still rules in this country, at least when it works.

— Los Angeles Times