Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


There Will be Others after Bernie Sanders

By Rob Tenery, MD on April 5, 2016

Even though he has won six out of the last seven state primaries, few, if any, pundits give Bernie Sanders a serious chance of winning the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. To stack the selection process even further in Hillary Clinton’s favor, virtually all of the Super Delegates have committed to supporting her from the start. In case her email scandal and inappropriate ties to the Clinton foundation when she was Secretary-of-State derail Clinton, Vice-President Biden and Elizabeth Warren seem to be prepping in the wings. Even the traditional Democratic Party doesn’t seem to want to support Sanders as their candidate. If he did get the nomination and somehow wins in the general election, the chances of getting much of his socialist agenda through Congress is very slim.

Why the concern? Because, the electorate is angry and increasingly liberal, since more and more voters are dependent on government entitlement programs, which feed into the socialist mantra that Sanders advocates. Add to that, a younger population that is being brainwashed by many of our very liberal institutions of higher learning.

The problem socialism doesn’t work or doesn’t work for this country, if we are to maintain our standard of living that has made the United States the envy of the world. Our democratic republic was established on the principle of capitalism--- the opportunity for those who are willing to work harder to advance their status. Private ownership and the profits that are derived from that property are directed back to the owner(s), except for any levied taxes.

Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has garnered unprecedented support espousing his socialist beliefs. In the system Sanders proposes, most major industries would still be privately owned, but would have to stand on their own without handouts from the government. The tax burden previously funneled to the wealthy corporations would be used instead to improve the lives of the citizens, by enabling the government to fund improvements to public services. One can make an argument that this form of governance would benefit this country’s infrastructure. But what would it do to the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation and work ethic that has built this country?

The contrast between capitalism and socialism is more a conflict between the principles of individualism and collectivism, which long predates the rise of Bernie Sanders. Outlined in a compilation eBook, Objectivism, the author, Craig Biddle, lays out the conflicts that face America. He raises the question, does the individual’s life belong to him, or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state.*

Biddle’s description of individualism is where the individual has the inalienable rights to live as he sees fit and act on his own judgment, while pursuing the values of his own choosing. Whereas, under collectivism, the individual’s life and choices belong to society, which serve the ‘greater good’, as determined by the state, rather than the good of a given individual.*

From the earliest of man’s occupation on this earth, some elements of collectivism were essential for protection and sustenance. But as man’s needs and sophistication grew, so did the need for independent thinking--- making choices that would enrich the efforts of one over another. Someone who was willing to work harder or had a better idea could expect rewards over those that didn’t. It was the birth of capitalism.

Those who gained more from their extra efforts also grew in their control of those who had less, creating a dichotomy in society. Thus, a rift occurred between the haves and those with less. Early on, there was an acceptance by the majority of those with less. But, as their numbers grew, so did their desire to have more. The founders of this country based the Constitution on the premise of freedom from oppression and opportunity. But, in the twentieth century, for those who could not or would not advance, came the transfer of wealth in the form of the entitlement programs--- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, etc.

This country has dealt with funding to pay for this wealth transfer by taxation and creating more debt. At some point, these methods max out and the country becomes vulnerable to be taken over by an alternative system--- socialism.

Excluding overthrows, wars and national disasters, all societies exist in a state of flux.  Capitalistic systems move to the left to insure those with less have the opportunity to move upward. Socialistic states move to the right to encourage innovation. However, it is the societies’ citizens who, either go along or bring about change. An example of where this country seems to be headed is to examine the microcosm of health care delivery. In particular, the physicians, who in the past, had prided themselves in their individualism, are, in rapidly growing numbers, voluntarily being subsumed into collective systems.

Independent physicians appear to be going the way of the dinosaurs.  One study found that only 17 percent of today’s physicians are in solo practice, a figure that stood at 54 percent in 1980.  Moreover, the percentage of physicians who describe themselves as independent practice owners has dropped from 62 percent in 2008 to just 35 percent last year, manifesting acceleration in the pace of decline.  Conversely, over the same period, the percentage who say there are now employees of a hospital or medical group has increased from 38 percent to 53 percent.**

What does this say about Bernie Sanders, who makes promises to give away even more, while making light of the freedoms that will be taken away in return? Although he probably won’t be elected next November, as this country evolves from individualism into collectivism, the time for his socialist pronouncements may not be too far away.

*   Biddle, Craig, Objectivism, eBook. Shared by JD Burleson

** Gunderman, MD, R, Albin, MD, M., Will Independent Physicians Go Extinct?, April 1, 2015.





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