Eind jaren ’80 werkte ik als reisleider voor Delta Travel in Amsterdam. We deden incoming tourism, en ik gidste vooral groepen zakenlieden die de reis cadeau kregen van hun werkgever, als ‘incentive trip’. Maar er waren ook groepen met relaties van Nederlandse bedrijven. Een van die trips herinner ik me nog heel goed. Potentiële klanten uit verschillende landen, uitgenodigd door Fokker Aircraft, ik denk voor de introductie van de Fokker 70, een prachtig nieuw stukje Neerlands trots. Er zaten inkopers van vliegtuigmaatschappijen bij, maar ook ministers van Afrikaanse landen.
Sinds de uitbraak van de Corona-epidemie in de Verenigde Staten heeft de regering onder leiding van Donald J. Trump weinig anders gedaan dan het gevaar relativeren, feiten onder het tapijt vegen en wetenschappelijke waarschuwingen negeren of ontkennen. Lees verder
Let me give you a European’s view on Bernie Sanders. Or rather, on the changes he wants to bring to your life. His ideas may sound pretty radical to you, but are actually pretty mainstream here in Europe.
Free healthcare for all
He wants to make healthcare free or almost free for everyone with a National Health Care system. We have this here in France, where we currently have a centre/right wing republican government.
If I go to the doctor, I have to pay him or her about 20$ for the visit. But then, the medicine I need is free or almost free. I pay a couple of bucks, at the most.
Last year, when I went into the hospital for an operation, it was all take care off. Anesthetics, overnight stay, the operation itself, all free. There was a waiting period for a couple of weeks, but since my condition was more bothersome than life threatening, that was no problem. Had it been more serious, I would have been helped straight away. For free. The insurance pays.
So who pay for the National Health Care System? Well, we all do. We have a progressive tax system, where poor people pay very little tax, middle class people like myself pay more and very rich people pay a lot. Well… a lot… they are still rich enough to fly private jets, live in sumptuous homes and buy ever more companies to get richer. Plus: they get exactly the same health care for free, as well. And if they want, they can get a private insurance on the side, to pay for a nice private room, better food, cable TV and a much better looking, sexy nurse. Well, maybe not the nurse.
Grammar school and high school (college) are obligatory until the age of 16, and free. If you want to go on to university or some other higher education, it is free or maximum a couple of thousand euros a year. Children from poor families get financial help so they can still study. There are special loans, so students can afford living in a boarding house or sharing an apartment, but at a very low interest rate and with a long payment period.
Bernie wants you to have free tuition as well, because he knows that in the long run, smarter people will make more money and will make the country be more competitive on the world market. Smart citizens is a good investment! Unless of course you are a purely capitalist politician who prefers people to be dumb and illiterate, so he can make them believe all kinds of nonsense.
Decent minimum wage
As far as I’m concerned, minimum wage in Europe – now around 12$ – could be a bit higher to be really decent, but depending on where you live, you can stay above the poverty line. If necessary, you can get rental subsidy and there are plenty of other financial aids.
In the USA, Bernie wants to up the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. That will be better than we get here, but depending on the other types of aid, you actually need that. If you’re working 40 hours a week, that is 600 dollars a week or 2400 a month. Enough for a decent living (again, depending on the size of you family and the rental prices in your area). Plus… free healthcare and free tuition, remember?
Taxing the rich
Another thing many Americans are getting their panties in a bunch about, is Bernie’s idea of making the big corporations pay taxes. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft… they all find ways of redirecting their income streams to other countries to avoid paying their fair share. I can’t think of one single reason why they should not pay the same percentage as a small private business. Except that the government is letting them get away with it. Bernie wants to stop this and I think that is only right.
Who owns your country?
The big corporations? The NRA? The pharmaceutical industry? The oil companies? The DNC? Bernie Sanders? None of those. YOU own your country. So elect a president who will give you back the power to grow and your children to flourish.
Saving the earth
I almost forgot… Bernie has plans for fighting climate change and loss of biodiversity as well. The green new deal will be a revolution with an energy conversion towards sustainable sources that will also create a lot of jobs. And hopefully in the long run turn back the dial on the extreme weather conditions we’ve been seeing. Our world is creaking in its seams and we need to act quickly!
Where does Bernie find the money?
Free healthcare costs money, but will also earn money as less people will get seriously ill, so they can stay productive for the economy. And pharmaceutical prices will drop to the same levels as Europe (sometimes 40x less expensive for exactly the same medicine!). Free tuition and forgiving the student debt will cost a lot of money. But Bernie wants to tax financial transactions on the stock exchange. Even with a very small tax like 0.5% trillions of dollars will pour into the governments coffers. This money is not taken out of the economy though. Students will be able to buy stuff, like a home, a car, better food… all this spending is an enormous boost for the economy.
And remember, this ‘debt’ is just numbers in computers. Forgiving it, is like directly subsidizing the economy by giving people back the power to buy stuff in stead of giving their money directly to their banks.
All in all,
I can’t think of any negative effect of Bernie’s plans. For the economy, for health, for education. The only ones who will marginally ‘suffer’ by becoming a teensy bit less superrich are the banks and the super rich. They will survive.
PS: Also, under Bernie the military spending will probably go down.
The USA at the moment spends more money on military than all other big countries (including Russia and China) combined! Surely there are better ways to become poor?
I’ve been following the discussions in some Bernie and AOC groups for a while now, and it strikes me that Biden-supporters are defending their candidate without ever using real arguments. “Joe is a nice guy”, they say, “He can beat Trump.” If you point out the strongly right wing decisions Biden has made over the years, they strike back with: “Yeah, but… Joe is relatable. He can beat Trump.” Explain that it is hard to beat Trump if you can’t seem to hold a train of thought, keep slurring your words, think Super Tuesday is a Thursday and call your opponent ‘Mr. President’, they smile and say: “Maybe, but everybody likes Biden. He can beat Trump.” Then – a bit exasperated – finally you give a list of proven accomplishments and positive social policies Bernie Sanders has been fighting for during the last 4 decades. Like free healthcare for all, $15 minimum wage, equal pay for women, black rights, free education. Peace! All things Biden has voted against. After your compelling argument-filled plea, the Biden supporters will tell you you sound like a Bernie Bro and that nobody likes Sanders. Plus… “Sanders can’t beat Trump.”
I’m sorry, but why can’t they take a step back and look at the the reality of the situation? Biden is a liability. He has too many skeletons in the closet and weak points, real or imagined, that Trump can attack. Mentally, he is certainly not Trumps superior. He’ll be massacred in one-on-one debates.
So why do so many democrats keep touting the virtues of mr nice guy Biden? I think the powers that be (republican and democrats) are pretending Biden is the best choice because they are pawns of big money. They want to hurt the chances of Sanders, who is going to upset their apple cart. They don’t want equality, power for common people, free healthcare and education for all. They just want to preserve the status quo and their jobs.
Dear Joe-fans, please realise… if you go for Biden and by some miracle of technical intervention (probably involving a ventriloquist and an intricate set of remote controls) he does beat Trump, you’ll be dealing with an incompetent corporate puppet for at least four more years. With every government decision, you’ll be wondering who is pulling the strings and calling the shots. You can be certain that with Biden behind the wheel, the real drivers will be big business banks, oil companies, chemical multinationals and pharmaceutical giants.
The truth is, between the two democratic candidates, Sanders is the only one with the resilience, the real world knowledge and the wit to actually beat Trump. Bernie is not in the race for money, glory or personal power. He is sharp as a tack, can debate rings around Trump AND wants the best for the people of the United States. If the DNC steps back and allows him to win – by simply letting the people decide without tampering with the election – Bernie will bring democracy and honesty back to the White House. And then maybe, just maybe, the world as a whole might have a chance to survive these difficult times.
In many of the pro-Bernie and AOC groups I see lackluster comments, often as first post under a wide range of articles about the primary election. Things like;
“I don’t think it matters anymore sadly.”
“Seems over for Bernie, which sucks…”
“It’s over!!! 4 more fuckin years of Trumpkins.”
“Bernie has ZERO CHANCE of beating TRUMP”
“We’ve been cheated. No chance in hell I’ll ever vote for Biden!”
“The DNC can forget my vote. If they won’t let Bernie in, let Trump win!
If I read these, I can’t help but think: “Yes, let’s lay our heads on our laps, let our shoulders droop and our hands fall listlessly to our sides. Let us not invest any more in this already run race because Biden is going to win, and Trump is going to win and we’re all doomed and what a shame for Bernie that he has irrevocably lost this foregone race in the already distant past. We’re all going to die anyhow. So let’s order pizza and beer, curl up into a feudal position and submit to the kings of capital and their subordinate horde of demoncrats.”
I’m certain many of these dampening, negative reactions are put there by Republican or Russian trolls. And if not, by stupid people who don’t know that a lack of energy and drive is more dangerous than the obvious opposition of the republicans and less obvious but still undeniable counterforces from within the Democratic establishment.
The most important quality of a resistance is its resilience. You’ve got to keep resisting, keep pushing, keep going out there convincing doubters to pick a side, and choose for change! This spirit of ‘YES WE CAN!’ got a coloured guy into the white house. So why not a real socialist?
So every time you see someone trying to convince the followers in a group to let go and give up, point out the fact that there is still time to affect change, that there is hope as long as the primary is not done. Expose the listless killjoys, the dampeners of spirit, the lethargic mopeheads, the promotors of mental flaccidity. Because we can change the world, beginning with the USA.
PS: I’m not American, but as a citizen of the world, I feel heavily invested in the future of the United States. If you guys can’t get Trump and his capitalist friends out of the way of progress towards a healthier society and a cleaner earth, all will be lost. So go get them! The world will be forever in your debt.