Finley: Sanders and Warren, the reluctant capitalists

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduces the Medicare for All Act of 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, America's most famous socialist, delivered a succinct and powerful lesson on the virtues of capitalism.

In trying to explain to critics his new-found millionaire status, the Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator said:

"I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."


That's how capitalism works. Individuals are rewarded for ambition, hard work, creativity, talent and, sometimes, even good luck. And those rewards belong to the person who earned them. As Sanders indirectly noted, it's what incentivizes people to strive for success.

It's a far different ideology than Sanders' beloved socialist system, where the goal is equalizing wealth regardless of individual contributions. Remember the Marxist motto: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Notice that Sanders didn't toss the riches he gleaned from his book deal into a common pool to be distributed for the common good.

And if he ever gets around to releasing his tax returns, as he's demanding President Donald Trump do, we'll find out if he voluntarily paid the confiscatory tax rates he's proposing for wealthy individuals like himself.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn't. The Massachusetts senator and one of Sanders' rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, also had a huge payday in 2018. Her financial disclosure indicates she and her husband brought in more than $900,000.

But she paid just $200,000 in taxes, for a 22 percent rate. That's well short of the 37 percent rate for her income bracket. And it's nowhere near the 70 percent wealth tax she advocates to fund her new social welfare proposals. The couple, with a net worth of just under $8 million, minimized their tax obligation by taking advantage of a variety of tax deductions and credits. 

Both she and Sanders are members of an exclusive club they constantly vilify on the campaign trail. Sanders' rants about "billionaires and millionaires" who distort the economic system are almost as tiresome as Warren's lectures about income disparity.

The best way to close the income gap, apparently, is to win an elected office.

Sanders and Warren got theirs from the capitalist system. Now they'd keep everyone else from cashing in by scrapping that well proven path to wealth. 

Thinking about it, neither the capitalist or socialist label fits them best. Try hypocrite.

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