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Sanders Campaign has devolved from somewhat inspiring to downright embarrassing

The Sanders campaign is turning out to be keystone cop operation.

At first, he was running what at least aspired to be an inspirational campaign. Though it always left me a little cold, personally, from the beginning. I gave him credit for having his heart in the right place.

But now he is in desperation mode. And it's a very sorry sight.

Just think about the silly Vatican escapade. It seems as though the real story is that he somehow through a series of connections wrangled his way into tiny academic conference in the Vatican. He was added an afterthought, without even a speaking slot.

All the while, he was, either through a misunderstanding (more likely) or mendaciousness (possible but not likely) selling this wrangled invitation as coming from the Pope and offering Sanders a personal meeting with the Pontiff himself.

When that was exposed as an untruth -- I won't say lie, since he may have been led by his aides or intermediaries to believe it -- he and his aides were still acting as if he would be some sort of headliner at said little conference and that it was some sort of great honor to be invited. Turns out not to be the whole story. Otherwise, he wouldn't have had to be shoe-horned in between already and probably long-ago planned sessions. He is clearly an afterthought. There only because of the wrangling of him and/or his intermediaries.

That's admittedly a pretty small thing, in the great scheme of things. But it is a symptom of a bigger rot that seems to spreading throughout his increasingly desperate campaign.

Think of the way he has earned Pinnochio and after Pinnochio over the past month. Think of his baldly sexist attack on Hillary Clinton's qualifications. In all seriousness, if you think that wasn't a bit of implicit sexism, do you think he would have deigned to call a man with a record similar to Hillary's unqualified? There is such a person, you know. That would be John Kerry. He too served as a Senator and Secretary of State (and had a very similar voting record). Would Sanders have thought for an instant to apply the term unqualified to him?

And then there is the flip flop on the super delegate thing. First he declares that super delegates should follow the "will of the people" when he vainly hoped hat the will of the people would be with him. But when that vain hope is dashed he says that the super delegates will follow him and ignore the will of the people

But just to cover his rear, since he knows he isn't going to get more votes or more delegates, he has to diss the voters -- especially black voters in the South.

His whole attack on the 90's and the crime bill for which he voted is just him trying to talk down to black people, again, especially those who support Clinton, as if he knows better than they where their true interests then lay and still lie.

Forget the pie-in-the sky, impracticality of many of his ideas -- which was my original reason for not backing him and preferring Hillary. Whatever the merits of those ideas, his campaign has turned into a sad, ugly, desperate spectacle. I really hope it ends soon.

Bernie Sanders: Too Good For the Real World!

Are you tired of pragmatic, realistic politicians?

Tired of politicians who get up everyday and fight tirelessly for real change in the real world?

Tired of politicians who are willing to take what they can get when they can get it, even while never losing sight of the ultimate goal?

Tired of fighting for hard won incremental change?

Are you the type who wants it all, and wants it now, real world constraints be damned?

Then vote for Bernie!

He's too good for the real world!

Free Trade and Clinton vs. Sanders

I'm a big supporter of Clinton's and think she will be an infinitely better president than anything the Republicans have to offer and orders of magnitude better than Sanders would be. The one area where she has somewhat disappointed me is on the topic of Free Trade. I think that in her heart of hearts she is a free-trader. How could someone who served as Secretary of State not be? How could she not know that for the world as a whole Free Trade is a good thing not a bad thing. It is an essential ingredient in the attempt to alleviate global poverty and essential ingredient in addressing global migration problem. People have to be able to work productively in their nations of origins, to trade productive work for higher living standards that keeps them rooted in their communities.

I am sure she believes such things. But because free trade doesn't sell in certain democratic constituencies or perhaps even with the public at large, she is playing it very, very cagey.

But I wish she would at least not let go unchallenged Sanders simplistic narrative that free trade only benefits the billionaire and millionaire class and is mainly responsible for the decline of manufacturing in places like Michigan and Ohio. it is just not true.

First up in the decline of Detroit was the rise of Toyota and other Japanese automakers in the 70's and 80's -- long before NAFTA. They were producing more fuel efficient cars than Detroit -- during a time when an oil crises was making Americans hungry for such cars. Those Japanese car makers kept gaining market share, despite the fact that those auto were subject to voluntary import restrictions. And Japanese trucks were then and are still subject to a 25% import duty, but the way. This was all way before NAFTA.

Moreover, when the factories did start moving out of Detroit -- again long before NAFTA -- they started out moving to the South, not to foreign shores. In the South not only were unions were weaker, but States were throwing tax incentives around like candy. Lots of Northerners moved South in those days chasing the fleeing manufacturing economy.

Eventually the move South were followed by moves out of the country. But Sanders gets things wrong about the current incentives to build factories in Mexico.. Mexican auto factories actually pay pretty well -- not by old UAW standards -- but not close to 25 cents an hour as he says. More like $8 to $10 dollars an hour.

In addition, Mexico is a heavily export depended economy. It has free trade agreements with many more countries than the US does. o if I am a manufacturer and I want to trade with the world, building my factory in Mexico makes it much easier to do that. Making the US less trade friendly would therefore only make matters worse.

Sanders also doesn't address the effects of automation on manufacturing jobs. A long time ago, when i was a young man, I actually worked as a spot welder in an auto assembly plant. It was back breaking work, but it paid very well. But that kind of job no longer exists in any auto assembly job in the world. Spot welding is done by spot welding robots on completely automated spot welding bays. Lots of manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of technology and they are NEVER coming back.

The point is that the decline of manufacturing in the US has many cause. Free trade may have played some role, but it is an infinitely more complex subject than Sanders in particular makes it out to be. And on the upside free trade has played a significant role in reducing world poverty and contributing to the gradual but steady rise of a global middle class. And that is a good thing for everybody.

Yes free trade contributes, as one factor among others, to economic dislocations here in the US. And those dislocations need to be addressed by serious progressive policies.

What I don't get is why Clinton -- who usually happily acknowledges and openly embraces such complexities in other spheres -- has been so silent on this subject. I have no doubt that she has a much more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of all this than Sanders -- for whom nuance is a dirty word, it seems.

I guess our politics is not made for dealing in nuance and complexities. It's made for simplifying grand narratives, painted mostly in black and white and maybe a few shades of gray here and there. That's what mobilizes people, I guess. Depressing thought though.

The Point about TARP, the Auto Bailout and Sanders

I actually find it really amazing that people insist that Sanders voted for "the" auto bailout. The auto bailout that actually happened, happened because part of the TARP funds were earmarked for the Auto industry. Sanders definitely voted against that Auto bailout -- the one that actually happened. So did a few other Dems.

But in a cover their rear, symbolic vote -- of the sort that Senators often make -- there was a stand alone auto bailout that didn't become law. He voted for that.

But in no sense was that "the" auto bailout -- you know the one that actually bailed out the automobile industry. It was merely "an" auto bailout that might have happened but didn't.

What this shows is not so much that Sanders was against the automobile industry. And that wasn't Clinton's point. What it does show is that he was so opposed to the TARP legislation -- which stopped us from going into a depression -- that even the prospect of saving the auto industry at the same time wasn't enough to win his vote for it.

You can debate what that shows about his priorities. The point I take away from it is that he is an ideological purist who doesn't let the messy real world get in his way. If staving off a depression and saving the automobile industry means you have to get your hands dirty and save the evil banks whose misjudgments and malfeasance caused potential depression, count Sanders out. He'd rather have the collapse of the entire economy, including the auto industry, than sully his clean hands.

That's the point Clinton was making. And I entirely agree with her that I don't want to put that kind of guy in office.

When it's Grievance Politics vs Success Politics, won't "success" always win?

Sanders preaches a politic of grievance. We, the 99%, have a grievance against the 1%. And we are going to seize the reins of power and take back from them what they have taken from us. And we are going to make them like it.

Clinton preaches a sort of center-left politics of success. We are going to tear down all the barriers that stand in your way (that's the left part) so that you can live up to your dreams, make the most of your talents -- i.e succeed. (that's the center part).

Now you can do either grievance based politics or success based politics from either the left or the right. Grievances are not confined to one side or the other. And everybody loves to succeed. Success, as such, has no real enemies -- though success won unfairly, at the expense of others is another matter.

Trump, for example, preaches both a politics of grievance and a politics of success. He's going to make the country great again, by kicking out and kicking the asses of our enemies, domestic and foreign. They have ripped our country off, beaten it down. blah, blah, blah. Though Trump illustrates that a politics of grievance and a politics of success are not mutually exclusive, his own particular grievances are based on hatred and prejudice and ignorance, and his formula for success is a sham.

Hillary too illustrates that you can combine grievance with success -- and in a much more appealing package than Trump does. Talking about "breaking down all the barriers," as Clinton now likes to do, gives you a place to hang a list of grievances, while also articulating a formula for success. Some of the barriers have been unfairly placed in our way by other people and on the behalf of some at the expense of others. She can talk of "ending systemic racism, mass incarceration, etc..." -- unfair barriers all -- not merely out of a sense of grievance - but as instrumental to greater human flourishing and success. Breaking down the barriers enables those unfairly held back by them to flourish and succeed. And we are not just going to bring greater fairness, "We are going to build ladders of opportunity."

I don't really want to overstate the differences between a politics of grievance and a politics of success too much. A politics of grievance and a politics of success might actually opt for the same or at least overlapping concrete policy prescriptions. But they would probably frame them differently.

Grievance based politics frames the policies that it seeks to justify in terms of demands for fairness and equality, more or less as ends in themselves. But again, that's not because grievance based politics is intrinsically anti-success. Grievance based politics just tends not to take success as it's immediate goal. Grievance based politics wants first to restore or institute anew fairness and then ensure that it is maintained. But a grievance based politics can embrace success too, as long as the success of some isn't achieved at the unfair expense of others.

Similarly, success based politics isn't necessarily opposed to fairness.

Of course, you CAN have a success-based politics that dismisses fairness as an important goal. That's what success based politics tends to do when its played from the right, rather than from the left. Right wing, success based politicians tend to dismiss calls for fairness as something only losers care about. My point is just that that's not a feature of success based politics as such.

When I say that Sanders practices a politics of grievance and Clinton a politics of success, I don't mean to say that Sanders is unconcerned with success and Clinton unconcerned with fairness.

Staying on the progressive side, and not concerning myself with the right wing versions, I do think, that a politics of grievance will lose out to a politics of success almost every time. A politics of success can co-opt and reframe in a more uplifting, less divisive way the legitimate points made by the politics of grievance. A politics of success has the potential to appeal simultaneously to the struggling, the striving, and the successful, as Clinton likes to call them, without dividing them from each other.

We will remove the (unfair) barriers that stand in the way of the struggling so that they too can strive and achieve success. We don't hate the successful, we don't begrudge or envy their success. We demand only that they pursue success within a system that is fair and gives opportunity to all. Indeed, we celebrate and enlist the successful, at least to the extent that they play by the rules, and join us in building ladders of opportunities for the struggling, so that they too can strive and succeed. This is something that we all can do together. This is not a zero sum game. It is a win-win-win game.

The politics of grievance has a much harder time wrapping us all up together in a common mission. In the hands of the inept or outright demagogues it can devolve into something extremely divisive -- calls to narrow, identity based, classed based, grievances, pure us vs them stuff.

Don't get me wrong. It needn't do that. If a politician is broad-minded enough and skilled enough at threading the needle, without sounding wishy-washy or devoid of conviction, he or she might be able to weave back and forth between a narrative of success and a narrative of grievance.

Bill Clinton was sort of a master at that sort of thing. He talked about a new covenant, rewarding those who "work hard and play by the rules," but were getting screwed. He wasn't excessively focused on fairness as such, as an end in itself, but more on calling all to a common national mission -- that's what the new covenant and the third way, was all about, at least in theory. What it became in practice, well, that's another matter.

Hillary is trying to learn to do more of that. That's what the combination of "breaking down barriers" and her talk of the "struggling, striving, and successful" are aimed at enabling her to do -- address grievances, without denigrating success. Indeed, it enables her to celebrate fairly won success.

Bernie needs to find a way to get more success based talk into his narrative. The dominant themes are fairness and grievance. He does have his optimistic tropes. But not enough of them. The grievances stand out above all.

To my mind fronting grievances, at least in national elections, is mostly a formula for failure. Not saying a politics of grievance never wins. It wins often on a smaller scale. But when you're talking to all the people and trying to build broad-based coalitions, grievance only goes so far.

Now some of the Sanders folks on this board are ready to trash the entire democratic party

See, I was right when I said a couple of weeks ago that Sanders is attempting a hostile takeover of the party.

His true colors are shining through and so are the colors of many of his supporters

Check out this locked thread for some of their confessions:

Sanders supporters fess up -- not democrats at all

He's been hating on the democrats for years, as just one of the two parties of the ruling class

(see: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/02/sanderss-party-problem/460293/)

I know, I know he's caucused with them in the House and the Senate for decades now, but he's obviously been holding his nose all that time.

I said it then, and I'll say it again. Sanders is trying to remake the party in its own image. The only reason he isn't running as the socialist he really is because there is no infrastructure to support it. The e Democratic Party has a lot of intact national political infrastructure. If you could seize that infrastructure, and turn it into a militantly leftist party, you'd have your socialist party. Presto! Chango!

It's a long shot, to be sure, but that's clearly what Sanders is up to. He's trying take the Democratic Party and remake it in his own socialist image. Pretty daring move. He's gotten farther than you might have thought he would at first. But it's pretty clear that the powers that be within the democratic party don't want to see the party become an outright socialist party. Otherwise, they would have become that long ago. I said then and I'll say it again, I bet they believe such a party is not likely to be a majority party anytime soon.

That's why the Super delegates are flocking to Hillary and fleeing Bernie. That's why they won't be cowed by the press or Sanders supporters into abandoning her, even if by some Sanders like miracle he manages to get more pledged delegates.

Stand your ground Democrats, you have nothing to lose but your Party.

Why Can't America Be like Europe?

Europe has lots of good things that America doesn't. Why not?

Americans aren't taxed like Europeans

Europeans are taxed MUCH more heavily than Americans, at every single turn. And it's not just the rich who are taxed heavily. , the middle class is heavily taxed and the taxes aren't all progressive. To be sure, Europe has progressive income taxes and taxes the rich more than the middle class, but it taxes the middle class a lot more than America does. And then there are value added taxes -- which hits practically everything and everybody and raise a LOT of the dough that supports the Welfare State.

Consider this from an article about where US tax rates stack up relative to nations around the world.

Unlike most advanced economies, the U.S. don't supplement personal income taxes with a national sales tax, or value-added tax (VAT). Consumption taxes accounted for about a fifth of total U.S. revenue in 2008 (mostly at the state and local level) compared to an OECD average of 32 percent. In other words, the U.S. relies uniquely on personal tax rates to raise revenue -- and we have relatively low personal tax rates.

How Low Are U.S. Taxes Compared to Other Countries?

Here is a striking statistic from that article. In Denmark, which Sanders often takes as his model country, taxes represent 50% of the total GDP. In America, taxes represent 27.3%. So it seems right that in order for America to support a European style social welfare state, taxes would have to be raised an enormous amount.

Are American's willing to do that? Are we collectively wiling to pay such high taxes in order to have the things that Europeans have and Americans don't?

Ethnic, Racial Divisions constrain what is possible in America

Do you remember the days when places like Cleveland or Detroit were vibrant cities? When I was a kid, back in ancient times, Cleveland had a population of nearly 1,00,000. It's now practically a ghost town in comparison. And don't get me started on Detroit. Lots of things contributed to the decline of many what were once great American cities. The first nails in the coffin of our cities may have been the riots of the 60's and the subsequent white flight from the cities. As the white middle class fled the cities, taking the tax base with them, the infrastructure of many of our cities began to decay and decay. And hardly anybody, except the declining inhabitants care. The cities where places for the black other. And whites in general were not really willing to pay taxes to alleviate the plight of the black other. Indeed, whites in general, and their fear of the black other, and their desire to contain the black other, is what led to a politics that insisted that politicians demonstrate how "tough on crime" they were in order to get elected.

Europeans are proving themselves just as capable of xenophobia and racism as Americans have long proven themselves to be. But fortunately for them, they started building their massive welfare states, long before the dark-skinned other was knocking so incessantly at their doors, clamoring to get in. For too many Americans the transfer of wealth through taxation to support a welfare state is transferring wealth from the deserving "us" to the undeserving "them." And that, I think, explains a lot of American resistance to the welfare state. Not all of it, by any means, but a lot of it.

And by the way, that's one thing Clinton's "third way" was intended to be about. That's why he set out to end "Welfare as you know it." He wanted to de-racialize the American welfare state. That's why he started with national health insurance - it was a Universal benefit, not aimed at this or that class or this or that ethnic group. Unfortunately for him and us, Democratic Hegemony lasted only for his first two years. And his failure to get healthcare during that two years, set the cause back.

America's presidential democracy is made for stasis

By design, it is really, really hard to make change in America. Take all the money out of politics and it would still be hard to make change. Think of the power of the Senate alone. The 25 smallest states elect 50 senators -- half of the Senate -- but have in total about 1/6 of the population. California has more people than the smallest 21 states combined -- but gets only 2 Senators. So our system is skewed toward the interest of small, mostly rural states. And it's not just the Senate, the House, though more representative of the people, is still an anti-democratic mess. That's mainly because of Gerrymandered districts, in which politicians get to pick their own voters, making the House almost impossible to change, except in census years. And then add in the Supreme Court, which we have seen recently, acts as a sort of Super legislature, but one with no democratic mandate.

The big thing is that each of these political bodies -- including the president -- has an independent source of legitimacy and a veto over legislation. since their legitimacy is independent they need pay no downside cost in exercising their veto power.

Nothing like this built in tendency toward stasis exist in any European parliamentary democracy.

I feel quite certain that if the Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom (not) had it to do all over again, they would not design the same system of a government. It's no accident, in my humble opinion, that very, very few nations have adopted presidential democracy. parliamentary democracy is a much more optimal form of democracy, at least if you want a government that can be held accountable to the people.

Governmental power is widely dispersed in America.

The federal government lacks the power to just declare, for example, that states and localities shall spend equally on all schools, or that tuition shall be free at all public colleges, or that the states prisons shall disgorges the legions upon legions of captives. Our federal government is actually a pretty weak-kneed thing and has far less control over national life than European governments do. Makes it hard to affect big social change just by changing the Feds -- which is hard to do anyway.

Americans don't vote

We think we're doing great in a presidential election if 60% of Americans vote. In off years, hardly anybody shows up. Sure there are lots of barriers to voting in this country -- way, way to many. Election day should be a holiday. Registration should be super easy. Voter Id laws should be ruled unconstitutional. All those things would help. But Americans are, at bottom, a politically disengaged people -- except when something makes them really, really mad. It could be connected not just to the artificial barriers to voting, but to the fact that it's nearly impossible to make things happen in our stupid system that is designed for stasis.

U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries

Too much Money in Politics in America.
This certainly belongs on the list. Not sure it's THE major determinant. But it is certainly there. I'm for public financing of all campaigns, myself.

Sanders: A Man with A Hammer, Who Sees Nails Everywhere

On another thread, someone wondered if Sanders is "tone-deaf" on matters of race. I think he's not exactly tone-deaf. He's just a man with a hammer who sees nails everywhere.

In particular, he's an economic determinist, who thinks in quasi-marxist fashion, that class antagonism is more fundamental than any other form of antagonism, more fundamental than racial antagonism in particular. That doesn't necessarily mean that he thinks racism isn't real, but he thinks that if you bring about true economic justice, racial justice will somehow follow in its wake -- but probably not the other way around. Indeed, he probably thinks that it would be impossible to achieve racial justice without first achieving economic justice.

I mean that's why he rails and rails against the Billionaire class. He thinks they and their greed are the source of almost all social/political/economic ills. So I wouldn't say he's "tone" death, as much as he is monomaniacal in his singular focus on the billionaire class as public enemy number one.

It's worth thinking how plausible it is that the billionaire class really deserves to be labelled public enemy number one. Personally, I've got no brief for the billionaire class. I do have to admit that I wouldn't complain if somebody dropped a few billions on me and made me one of them. But I'm just not sure that they are the only villains worth fighting or how many of our many woes they are directly to blame for.

First off, if we going to talk the billionaire class, we gotta realize that we're not just talking an American class, but a sort of global international cooperative. Rein in just the American segment of the class and you still got global international capital to contend with. And it's not at all clear how many problems you can really solve just by addressing the American segment of the global class. (That's why some Marxists -- like Trotsky -- thought that the revolution of the proletariat had to be a world wide revolution.)

So here's a question for Bernie, can you really de-rig the American economy, without de-rigging the Global economy?

Now I wouldn't want to deny that there surely some truth to the idea that the billionaire class would very much like to make the US government into its wholly owned subsidiary. But I don't think they've quite succeeded entirely. Miscreants of many types have a piece of the thing -- evangelicals, nativists, racists, old people, the rural folk -- Certainly not all of them are card carrying members of the billionaire class. One of the reasons politics is such a mess in this country is that it's a big complicated sprawling thing with many centers of power, many veto points, with a constitution that is designed to prioritize stasis and conflict over change. Makes it damned hard to get anything done.

That's why it's sort of silly to think that it's the billionaire class that is wholly responsible for the fact that we don't have single payer health insurance. I grant that a lot of resistance comes form the drug companies and the insurance companies. And these folks are charter members of the billionaire class. But I think you can go a lot further down the economic ladder than the billionaire rung and find a lot of people who are resistant. Most doctors aren't card carrying members of the class. But a lot of them -- especially the specialists -- are highly opposed to "socialized medicine." People who work for big companies with generous benefits always fear they are going to be net losers in any new scheme that at all lifts those below. That's a pretty American thing. And you don't have to be a billionaire to be subject to that particular affliction -- call it "I got mine-ism." American as apple pie.

And, by the way, it was president Jimmy Carter -- no servant of the billionaire class, who actually torpedoed Kennedy's national healthcare bill back in the late 70's, prompting Kennedy to challenge him for the Democratic nomination.

It's less clear to me whether it's the evil billionaire class that is supposed to be responsible for mass incarceration in Bernie's mind. Personally, I tend to blame white people at large and their fear of the black other for that one. I don't think it was the billionaires who insisted for decade after decade that politicians be "tough on crime." It wasn't the billionaire class that got that insane and costly three strikes and your out law passed in California. It was a lot of angry and afraid white people -- a lot of them working and middle class.

Now as a quasi-Maxist economic determinist, comrade Bernie probably thinks their racism is due to "false consciousness." What angry white racists need is a little class consciousness to make them immune from being played against their black brethren in chains by the billionaire class.

Same thing with illegal immigration, I guess. Have to find a way to lay xenophobia at the feet of the billionaire class. That's a little tricky, since you might naively think that the billionaires would be for open borders -- cause, you know, more cheap exploitable labor, and all.

Obviously some of the desolation of America -- the desolation of its heavy industries, the emptying out of rural American -- is due to the GLOBAL billionaire class, at least in part -- cause you know global capitalism, agribusiness, and all that capital moving around the globe at the speed of light. That kind of stuff takes livelihoods with it in the blink of an eye, enriching those over here, while impoverishing those over there, with a brutal and indifferent efficiency.

Dealing with that is tough stuff. One of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. Not sure how to stop it. Way more difficult than saying "Main street bailed out wall street, time for wall street to bail out main street." a la Sanders. Way more difficult even than "breaking down all the barriers" al la Clinton too. But at least she recognizes that there are many distinct and interacting barriers and soaking the billionaires while necessary isn't sufficient to break all the barriers down.

Bottom line, even given the partly destructive force of global international capitalism, and the havoc it has wreaked on the American landscape -- I doubt it's just the billionaire class that's responsible for all of our decay. I mean just think about it, even billionaires have to live and work and do business somewhere. They have to draw workers from somewhere. They have to ship resources here and there. So you would think they would want a highly efficient infrastructure, a highly educated workers and all that jazz. That argues for a lot of public investment in things that we haven't been investing much in for a very long time. Who exactly is to blame for that lack of investment? If it's really and truly the billionaire class that is blocking that investment, then, well they are just stupid and working contrary to their enlightened self-interest, aren't they?

Long winded way of saying that comrade Sanders isn't tone deaf -- not exactly -- it's more like he's got tunnel vision. He's a man with a hammer, who sees nails everywhere.

Sanders free college plan: Some Thoughts

The US is unlike other countries that have free college in many different ways. One way is having both a private and state Universities. Another is having a highly federal system, in which state colleges and universities are run not by the federal governments but by the individual states, with individual states setting admissions policies, expenditure rates, etc so that universities in different states are funded at very different levels.

So you have to ask, how this plan works and what are its consequences in the peculiar setting of higher education that you find in America.
Once you start thinking about how this actually works and its actual effects and then you take a look at the actual proposal -- at least to the extent it reflects the legislation he introduced last year -- you get the feeling that he has thought through very little of this. Here is his actual bill.


I don't pretend to know the answers to all the questions I raise below. But it does seem that Sanders proposal would be highly disruptive and would vastly alter the landscape of American Higher education in ways that he does not seem to fully anticipate. Perhaps for the good, perhaps not. It's much more than a "free tuition" plan. It's a plan to radically alter the educational landscape in America.

First, start with the fact that it's a plan for public Colleges and Universities only.

Here's a chart that shows the relative number of students who attend public and private Universities and Colleges both historically and projected out to 2024.


Obvious point, since Sanders program applies to PUBLIC universities and colleges only, the cost (to students) gap between public and private universities is bound to significantly increased. And that suggest that the DEMAND for spaces in public universities will significantly increase. Unless SPACES in public universities increase as well, that means COMPETITION for spaces in public universities will become more intense.

How will that competition be managed? Will admission standards go up? Will we become like European Countries in which you have very restricted choices as to where you go to school. Part of the "bargain" that you get in Europe from free college is often that a single test determines if you go to college and where you go to college. America, by the way, has a MUCH more free and open University system than any country in Europe.

The analogy with public secondary education is a false one. We GUARANTEE places in a public school (supposedly an equally good public school, but that's a fantasy we all know) to every single child. Will we really guarantee a place in a public University to EVERY SINGLE STUDENT OF AGE? Doubt it. But if we do and if we lack the capacity, we must then develop the capacity to educate all students. States won't be able to ship excess students off to another state. And won't be able to say to some -- out of luck you have to "pay for a private school." (although some students no doubt still will, but you can worry about whether this will drive many especially lesser and financially precarious private schools out of business -- is that the plan, perhaps?).

We don't currently make such guarantees for colleges and universities -- though with the multi-faceted but highly tiered system in America (elite research universities, public and private, large state U systems that are multitiered, junior colleges, etc, most people can find a place.. Here in California, though, many, many, campuses in the Cal State system are "impacted." That is, they MUST turn away many many eligible students. So that's a big question, how do we manage the likely to be much increased competition for spaces in public colleges and universities? To every qualified student? How will we determine who is qualified and who is not or who among the qualified gets in? Is that to be left to the states? Will the be federal constraints on how states manage the increased competition? Sanders bill is silent on this.

One thing to note is that Sanders proposal only requires that states guarantees free tuition to In State students. States must, according to bullet point (2) of the legislation:

(2) ensure that tuition and required fees for in- State undergraduate students in the State’s public
higher education system are eliminated

I suppose that they are free to do the same for out of state students. But the proposal doesn't require them to do so and doesn't really incentivize them to do so either, as far as I can tell.

This is another thing, then, that seems to have the potential to significantly alter the incentive structure for students. It will incentivize more students to stay in State. Not only will it will make staying in state a a much more attractive option to both parents and students, but it will make it harder for state Universities to attract the much desired "out of state student" unless they can afford to make tuition free to out of state students too. But since the taxpayers of each state are still asked to kick in much of the cost of this, it is not clear that they will want to do this. In California, those already impacted Cal State campuses -- which accept almost not out of state students anyway (indeed, they accept almost no students from outside of what's called their local service area) -- will perhaps be even more impacted, as competition to get in them is only intensified.

Currently, some states, like probably Ohio, which was many, many more Universities than California, with many fewer students to attend them, may have a relative under-capacity. But California clearly has an under capacity. California exports lots of its students to public and private universities around the country. Ohio imports lots of students from other states. What will happen to this flow of students from state to state? Will Ohio have to cut capacity, while California grows capacity?

And what, more generally, about controlling costs? With greater demand and increased competition, you either have to grow capacity or restrict access. Growing capacity costs money. Sanders proposal makes no mention of this. Restrict access seems to be against the spirit of the proposal. We could go down the European route -- indeed there seems to build in pressure to go down that route from this proposal. Students are heavily tracked into college vs. vocational options. Mandatory entrance exams basically determine their entire fate. A high degree of government control over access is the cost you pay for having the government foot the entire bill.

Notice that what Sanders actual bill requires states to do along the line is the following:

(1) ensure that public institutions of higher
education in the State maintain per-pupil expenditures on instruction at levels that meet or exceed the
expenditures for the previous fiscal year;

(2) ensure that tuition and required fees for in-State undergraduate students in the State’s public
higher education system are eliminated;

(3) maintain State operating expenditures for public institutions of higher education, excluding the amount of funds provided for a fiscal year under this section, at a level that meets or exceeds the level of such support for fiscal year 2015;

(4) maintain State expenditures on need-based financial aid programs for enrollment in public institutions of higher education in the State at a level
24 that meets or exceeds the level of such support for fiscal year 2015;

(5) ensure public institutions of higher edu- cation in the State maintain funding for institutional need-based student financial aid in an amount that is equal to or exceeds the level of such funding for the previous fiscal year;

(6) provide an assurance that not later than 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act, not less than 75 percent of instruction at public institu- tions of higher education in the State is provided by tenured or tenure-track faculty;

(7) require that public institutions of higher education in the State provide, for each student en- rolled at the institution who receives for the max- imum Federal Pell Grant award under subpart 1 of part A of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a et seq.), institutional stu- dent financial aid in an amount equal to 100 percent of the difference between—

(A) the cost of attendance at such institu- tion (as determined in accordance with section 472 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087ll)), and
(B) the sum of the amount of the maximum Federal Pell Grant award; and
(ii) the student’s expected family con- tribution; and
(8) ensure that public institutions of higher education in the State not adopt policies to reduce enrollment.

Nowhere are the tradeoffs -- which are many and I have highlighted just a few of them -- addressed.

Here's another one. Administrative cost in universities keep increasing -- and not just to pay for presidents salaries. Think of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title IX and whole host of mostly FEDERAL regulations that impose significant administrative costs on Universities and colleges. Sanders proposal doesn't allow states to use federal money to meet any such costs. Will his proposals make administrative costs go up? Not clear. But I'd be surprised if not.

One way that public universities have tried to control cost is by the use of part-time and adjunct faculty. Sanders proposal requires that at least 75% of teaching faculty at state universities be tenure and tenure track. Currently about 41% of faculty at all American Universities combined are adjuncts (i.e. not tenure or tenure track.) So this would be a major and costly sea change. And by the way, those adjuncts are much more likely to teach at underfunded state universities. Perhaps for the best, that's not what I am saying. But it's an increased cost. How will that cost be paid? By putting downward pressure on regular faculty wages, perhaps? Again, that's IS one of things that happens in Europe. European academic salaries are SIGNIFICANTLY lower, on average than American Academic Salaries.

All in all, not really sure what to make of this bill. It seems like a sort of half-baked, half thought-out proposal to remake the American Higher educational landscape in the image of Europe. It's kind of what you'd expect from a Social Democrat of European vintage though. The dude has a serious case of Europe envy, I'd say.

Bernie's African American Endorsers

Don't like Obama much.

Harry Belafonte on Obama:

uring the Television Critics Association Press Tour, where he was promoting his upcoming HBO documentary "Sing Your Song," Belafonte told reporters, "Barack Obama and his mission has failed because it has lacked a certain kind of moral courage, a certain kind of moral vision that we are in need of." According to the Wall Street Journal, he later added, "There is still a lot of opportunity for that corner to be turned."

"When he said, 'Yes, we can,' it may have been politically clever," Belafonte continued. "He never defined for us what he said ... So those of us who felt that we needed change filled in that space with our own images of what we thought he meant only to find out we are all disappointed because none of those things have been satisfied."

Cornell West on Obama

"A niggerized black person is a black person who is afraid and scared and intimidated when it comes to putting a spotlight on white supremacy and fighting against white supremacy," West explained. "So when many of us said we have to fight against racism, what were we told? 'No, he can't deal with racism because he has other issues, political calculations. He's the president of all America, not just black America.' We know he's president of all America but white supremacy is American as cherry pie."

"The First Black President Has Become The First Niggerized Black President"

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama

The irony of President Barack Obama is best captured in his comments on the death of Trayvon Martin, and the ensuing fray. Obama has pitched his presidency as a monument to moderation. He peppers his speeches with nods to ideas originally held by conservatives. He routinely cites Ronald Reagan. He effusively praises the enduring wisdom of the American people, and believes that the height of insight lies in the town square. Despite his sloganeering for change and progress, Obama is a conservative revolutionary, and nowhere is his conservative character revealed more than in the very sphere where he holds singular gravity—race.

Fear of a Black President

Now I doubt the predominant view of Obama in the African American community is the Belafonte-Coates-West view. And I think that fact will be used adeptly by Clinton and her many black surrogates to draw a wedge between Bernie and the black community.

"So Bernie, do you agree with your supporter, Cornell West, that Obama is .... I can't even say the word ... but do you know what he said. he used the n'word to describe Obama. Did you call him out on that? Will you? Why have you accepted his endorsement?"

and on and on
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