Bernie's no clue about his signature subject, poverty

If Bernie Sanders here were just repeating useful political rhetoric we might cut him some slack – lying in pursuit of a political goal is hardly unusual now, is it? My problem is that I’m convinced that Bernie actually believes this rubbish:

The rapid rise of oligarchy and wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic, and political issue of our time. Yet, it gets almost no coverage from the corporate media.

How often do network newscasts report on the 40 million Americans living in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation on earth?

The US poverty – and child poverty – numbers are calculated before near all the things which are done to reduce said poverty. Everyone else not only uses a different standard they also measure them after the effects of taxes and benefits. That’s why those US poverty rates look so high. For example, when we look at the child poverty rate it’s about 20% or so before what is done to reduce it. It’s some 2 or 3% after all that is done. One thing the American welfare system is pretty good at being the reduction in child poverty.

Bernie should know this, if he does he should be pointing it out. As I say, my strong suspicion is that he simply doesn’t know these basic facts. There’s also this:

Until we understand that the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and that people cannot make it on $9 or $10 an hour, we’re not going to be able to pass a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

Hmm. That $7.25 an hour for a working year of 2080 hours (about right for Americans) puts you in the top 7.8% of the global income distribution. Yes, that’s after we adjust for different prices in different places. You’re in the top half billion of the 7 billion of us. That’s not a starvation wage. $15 an hour puts you into the top 1.1% of the world. Around 66 million in that distribution of incomes over 7 billion people.

There’re 160 million working Americans. They can’t all be in the top 66 million, can they?

It is actually quite fun to point out that $15 an hour is a top 1% income. It’s much more worrying to know that Bernie Sanders is either ignorant or lying about his signature subject, US poverty. But, you know, politicians.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. ‘For example, when we look at the child poverty rate it’s about 20% or so before what is done to reduce it.’

    What is this child poverty you speak of?

    I never knew a kid who had anything but some clothes and toys, and was completely dependent on others, usually his parents, for food and shelter.

    Child poverty is nonsense.

    Contrast with child wealth.

  2. Senator Sanders has been in office for a long time. He understands that his stock in trade is manipulating people, achieving permanent tenure, and supporting the world-view he has chosen, the leftie one. Thus, he knows backwards and forwards that the message is that everyone’s “misfortune” is the cause of someone else’s “fortune,” everything is “fortune,” that is, luck, or unknowable, and so there is no great harm to having government redistribute more deliberately.

    Details have always been sketchy on Sanders’ acquisition of yet another spare dacha on the shores of Lake Champlain. But details are totally absent on whether Sanders ever lost sleep worrying about whether the new home came at the “expense” of anyone else. Everyone in Washington has moments of awareness that backslapping and power-brokering is less valiant than the real work being done in Hillary’s “backwards” districts. But they snap out of it, or order another double.

    PS – If we had “solved” child “poverty,” Sanders would effortlessly shift to touting the success of the welfare system and arguing for a larger budget and an increased mandate, possibly to solve obesity. That is who his constituency is, and who his suckers are.

  3. Some border-jumpers with minimal skills work under-the-table for less than $7. (Thereby out-competing citizen workers with legal jobs at legal pay.) They do not starve. They economize, sleep several-to-an-apartment, and make do until they improve their skills and their situation.

    Sanders has evidence of this, but again, one doesn’t go to Washington to study or measure but to work on a sales pitch, and he has a damned effective one, with millions of college students thinking he is the one who can shake all that money loose and gift it to them.

  4. I tend to think that the whole point of the inequality meme is to change the argument over taxation away from the traditional one of what do we want government to do and how much tax should we pay for that, towards one of government should be able to take what it wants simply to limit what people might have.

    • I again cite the decade-old Massachusetts state income tax rate reduction with that little box to tick if you wished to continue paying at the old, higher rate. Sanders is not subject to this (Elizabeth Warren is, and hasn’t). The drafters knew it would produce marvelous statistics on how many redistributionists prove your exact point by only putting your money where their mouth is, and they have not been disappointed.

    • It is possible that Bernie does give to the poor (we know that Murphy refuses to tithe or to encourage his readers to do so). However most of those I know who use their own money to reduce inequality are Christians and/or right-of-centre.

  5. Sanders–like the Fat Accountant–is a deceitful old shithouse clerk who needs 18 kinds of deodorant to cover the stench of his corruption.

    I did like James Wood’s Tweet about Sanders and Warren standing in 2020 –as The Loan Arranger and Tonto.

  6. Sanders is often praised as a great speaker, using rhetoric to make his point. For some reason Rhetoric is highly regarded in the USA – yet one definition of rhetoric is:

    “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content”

    There you have it. He could have been an actor, or a comedian, but his act is rhetoric.