By Luke Kusic
At this point in the election season, everyone knows the self-described socialist who has made his career screaming angrily at Wall Street, the banks, and even capitalism in general. The left wing, social justice warrior, college liberal loves him for being a “radical” and a “socialist” when in all actuality his plans are not much different from the status quo. The clearest example of his non-radical plans can be seen in his new way to fix the banking system.
Bernie Sanders back in early November proposed his solution to fix the banking system. His plan involves modifying the Post Office to serve as a banking system. Under Bernie’s plan, people could deposit money into their local Post Offices. The intent of this plan is to help low income residents in areas where banks are not as common in order for them to have a place to store their money. According to Bernie, the plan will also help save the failing Post Office.
Let’s make one point absolutely clear: this plan is not radical in any sense of the word. Trying to increase the powers and extent of a government agency isn’t some giant step forward to radical changes. Rather, it is a progression of what has been going on in this country since its inception. This plan at the most is just modifying the status quo. The United States Post office, a government agency that is prone to bankruptcy and corruption, will cause a lot of problems for anyone who risks storing her money in it. For example, how will people be certain that their money will be stored safely and not spent on the bankrupt agency itself? The lockbox idea is obviously a myth that the government has used since the days of Social Security to garner the trust of the masses. And, just like Social Security, there will probably be no lock box in the Post Offices. The problem with the United States Post Office is that it holds a monopoly of control on the delivery of mail. The second problem lies in the actual utility that granting the Post Office banking power would do to serve the American people: nothing. Allowing a federal agency the ability to keep people’s money safe is not a real change at all. The real change would come from ending the Federal Reserve or true deregulation of the banks. Bernie Sanders has said, “It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in this country!” To that I say, “Great! Let’s end the Federal Reserve, the largest financial institution in this country that is systematically impoverishing Americans, devaluing the currency, and allowing the whole too big to fail system to exist!” However, my pleas fall on deaf ears as Sanders gutted the “Audit the Fed Bill” that Ron Paul worked on for months. If Bernie Sanders were a real radical, he would not increase the control and power of the United States Post Office. Instead, Bernie would defund it, deregulate it, and open it up to competition while simultaneously ending the Federal Reserve.
Real radical reform is nowhere to be found in this new Post Office idea. Instead let us learn from history with a real “socialist,” 19th century American Anarchist Lysander Spooner. In 1844, Spooner opened up the American Letter Mail Company in order to compete against the high prices of the Post Office. His goal was to lower prices, which he was able to do as competition forces monopolies to now compete against other market forces. Although the government shut down his business in 1851, Lysander proved that one individual, one market actor, could effectively lower the prices of a monopoly. This is real radicalism at its finest. Bernie should listen to the “socialist” ideas of Spooner and talk about ideas such as the abolishment of the government control of the Post Office, and the abolishment of the government control of pretty much every market operation. Spooner died before the Federal Reserve was established, but he too certainly would have seen it as oppressive an institution as he saw the government granted monopoly of the Post Office.
The young progressives on college campus are drawn to the ideas of Bernie because they are economically illiterate and they want to appear“radical.” In the same way as it was cool to be a leftist in the 1960s, it is now fashionable to be seen as a “radical” or “socialist.” However, all of Bernie’s inexcusable and economically misguided reforms are not radical at all. Real radical reforms come from the deregulation of the economy, the end the government control over spheres of the economy, and the adoption of a proper approach to capitalism. A real radical right-wing approach does not involve expanding government power of the market, but dissolving it.