Headline: Millionaires and Billionaires and Bernie
Sub-headline: The Vermont socialist is suddenly rich. Is he any wiser?
On the top of Bret Stephens’ political agenda are War with Iran and Russia, to be most effective for his destructive nihilism, those wars need to be waged simultaneously. In a lower position on this agenda is to wage a concerted propaganda campaign against Left Wing Social Democrats, and in particular Bernie Sanders who has become rich through the sale of his book. Here is a key paragraph from his not so carefully modulated screed:
With Sanders, I won’t get my hopes up. But his experience of sudden wealth ought at least to temper the hard and ugly edges of his class-war politics. Getting rich is not a form of theft. As often as not, it’s the result of a service. Being rich is not a sin. Typically, it’s the result of long labor, patient saving, prudent investment, gutsy risk-taking, and some stroke of originality.
Is Sanders the first author to become rich by means of his literary endeavors? Popular taste is hard to predict, but in the face of an utterly collapsed Neo-Liberalism a politician who offers some real hope, to an electorate weary of the ‘solutions’ presented by both Republicans and New Democrats, has been offered by one politician in literary form. In his last three sentences Stephens recites The Puritan Ethic as key to his attack on Sanders sudden wealth. In sum, that wealth compromises him, but in very particular ways.
As an object lesson about the dangers of clueless entrepreneurship Stephens quotes from a 1992 essay by George McGovern from The Wall Street Journal. In it McGovern recites the perpetual complaint, or just call it whining, of the small business person about the interference of the regulations imposed on them.
“My business associates and I,” he wrote in a memorable 1992 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: ‘Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.’ It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.”
As Stephens employs it, this declaration by McGovern renders null his politics, Left Wing Social Democracy, aide by a quotation from Felix Frankfurter:
The op-ed began with a line from Justice Felix Frankfurter: “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” For McGovern, wisdom came at the price of bankruptcy. For Sanders, maybe it will come with the rewards of wealth.
One has to wonder at Stephens’ underestimation of his readerships knowledge of very famous Americans, like Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain, who attained great success but were utter failures in the business world. But that is not the point of Stephens’ attack on Sanders. It is about the public shaming of a dangerous Political Apostate, as conceived by a Neo-Conservative Theologian, steeped in the art of Staussian mendacity.