Bernie Quadruples Down on Cuba

Bernie Quadruples Down on Cuba

There he goes again.

Bernie Sanders participated in a Fox News town hall last night, in which he was given yet another opportunity to distance himself from his past praise of Cuban socialism, and decided instead to take the opportunity to praise Cuban socialism.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported: Bret Baier asked Sanders whether he regretted his praise of Castro’s “literacy program” in an interview on 60 Minutes, since it appears those comments hurt him in subsequent primaries. Sanders replied, “No.” “Look, I have spent my entire life fighting for working people and fighting for democracy,” Sanders said. “If you check my record, I have condemned authoritarianism, whether it is in the Soviet Union, whether it is in Cuba, whether it is in Saudi Arabia.”

“I know it’s hard given ‘gotcha’ questions,” Sanders said. “Given the media that we deal with and everything else, you say something and people can beat up on you. I think you’ve got to tell the truth. So, if in China they’ve reduced extreme poverty, does that make me a communist who supports China? No, I’m just telling you a simple fact.”

Sanders has been wise enough to at least attempt to distance himself from the mental image the word socialism conjures, and calls himself a “democratic socialist.”  “When I talk about democratic socialism, I’m not looking at Venezuela. I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden” Bernie has said previously in response to the undeniable fact that socialism has failed everywhere.” Of course, the Scandinavian nations he listed aren’t socialist, they’re capitalist countries that tax and spend like drunken sailors.

As I noted elsewhere, it would require massive tax increases to fund a Scandinavian style welfare state, and not just on “millionaires and billionaires.” In 2017, all three Scandinavian countries had levels of taxation exceeding half of every dollar earned. Taxes as a percent of GDP were:

  • 50.7%  in Sweden
  • 53.5%  in Denmark
  • 54.7% in Norway

For reference, in the U.S. taxes at all levels of government averaged 26% of GDP in 2016 (and have since been cut). Note that U.S. taxes would actually need to be higher than Scandinavia if we were to mimic their government programs, because health care is more expensive in America than it is there.

While the Tax Foundation found that in 2017 the top 10% of American households paid 70.6% of the taxes, there is no Robin Hood in Scandinavia. In America, an earner isn’t subject to the top tax bracket of 37% until they earn over $510,000. While an American would need to earn eight times the average income to be subject to our top tax bracket, the figures are only 1.5 times average income in Sweden, 1.6 in Norway, and 1.3 in Denmark (source: pages 30-31).

Furthermore, there’s overwhelming evidence that Scandinavians are successful despite their governments’ excessive taxing in spending, not because of it.

There are over 10 million Americans with Scandinavian ancestry (most of which are the descendants of immigrants, not new arrivals), and they far economically outperform their counterparts across the Atlantic.

There is, unfortunately, a lack of global household income data, and thus, the most recent information available is from a 2013 Gallup study of global household incomes. They found the median household incomes, adjusted for purchasing power to be the following in 2012:

  • Norway: $51,489
  • Sweden: $50,514
  • Denmark: $44,360

The and the median incomes for households of Americans with Scandinavian ancestry in 2012 are as follows:

  • Norwegian American $62,155 (21% higher)
  • Swedish American $62,295 (23% higher)
  • Danish American $63,630 (43% higher)

Additionally, the Census listed a group identifying themselves as “Scandinavian Americans,” who earned a median household income of $67,421 in 2012. The median household income of all Americans in 2012 was $51,371.

And the real kicker? These figures are not adjusted for differences in taxation. Not only do Scandinavian Americans far outperform Scandinavians economically, but they also get to keep a larger chunk of a larger pie.

So there’s a lesson we can learn from Scandinavia – but I don’t think that’s the one Bernie wanted us to learn.

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