America isn't as bad as Bernie says
Point/Counter-Point: To see the other side of this argument, read “Bernie Sanders is the good kind of radical”, here.
Bernie Sanders is the presidential wet dream of every individual stuck in the quicksand of the 21st century's entitled, idealistic, entertainment-seeking mindset.
There's a reason he has the youth vote. This audience is composed of individuals with skepticism that they’ll never end up as rich as their parents or the people they see on Instagram, who want some kind of insurance that they’ll be able to keep buying iPhones and brand name sneakers, even at entry level jobs. People disguise this sentiment with phrases like, “leveling the playing field” and reducing the income gap. Really, they want to be able to maintain the lifestyle of a doctor while being a high school teacher.
It’s no coincidence that this sense of entitlement is surging in the midst of an increasingly materialistic society. Keeping up with life is getting a lot more expensive. It also doesn’t help that becoming extremely wealthy doesn’t just happen to middle-aged people anymore. Now our generation has Youtube stars and the Jenner family to compare themselves to.
They don’t want to work 30 hours a week to spend it on things like healthcare and school. They want those things taken care of, preferably by someone else.
Sanders often throws around phrases such as “free college” and “free healthcare,” which seems appealing but it's important to recognize that nothing is actually free. If the money isn’t coming out of your pocket, it’s coming out of someone else's. The government doesn’t just magically pay for these programs. The only way to pay for these programs is to raise taxes, particularly taxes on the one percent and upper middle class, which Sanders has explicitly said he plans to do.
A lot of people, particularly young people, think this is freaking sweet but then again, we’re inclined to see only the receiving end of this deal.
Now it’s absolutely true that tuition prices are out of control and we pay heavily for healthcare. However, that doesn't mean that we should just stop paying for it altogether. The lack of accountability for our own welfare is a total cop-out.
This is capitalist America, not socialist Denmark. We have the unique feature of being a melting pot nation. This country operates on an entirely different set of values — a very diverse set of values. We can’t come together as a nation and say “we want everyone to go to college” because that's not necessarily an accurate depiction of our population. We have a lot of people who really don’t want to go to college or take on some sort of apprenticeship.
As far as healthcare goes, individuals need to take at least some personal responsibility for their health. Granted, the government should absolutely ensure that healthcare is affordable for people but we've already done that with the Affordable Care Act.
Sanders presenting the possibility of this American utopia where we get free education and healthcare limits the discussion to a gut reaction, whether or not we want to help people. Now, no one wants to see fellow Americans without healthcare or with limited opportunities but we need to have thoughtful discussions about whether "free" is the best way to go about addressing these issues.
Sanders plays on the "stick-it-to-the-man" attitude that encompasses our youth to promote this revolution of free stuff. His battle cries that demand the dismantling of corporate dragons echo our generations' incessant obsession with the Illuminati and “the system."
It's a compelling story- the youth rises up and defeats the evil One Percenters. However, it's important to assess our reality for what it is and not blindly accept a sensationalized storyline.
Income inequality is real. The rich are no doubt getting richer. But most people aren't just born rich. Even if they are, it takes a lot of work to keep it that way. The top earners already pay a disproportionate amount of income tax, which largely goes to programs that do not benefit them. It's important to at least attempt to distribute some of the wealth that pools toward the top, but the wealthy shouldn't hold the burden of paying for the entirety of the population's welfare including education. This is America, not Nicaragua. We already have unemployment benefits, EBT and now we have national affordable healthcare.
For all the millennials out there swept up in the ideas Bernie Sanders and conspiracy documentaries have sold you that America is some poorly working machine because it’s not giving things out for free, think again. There is no reason for us to think that we're entitled to higher education or healthcare. It's not as romantic of a notion as a political revolution, but in the end, this is still 2016 America. We are a capitalist nation and if that doesn't work for you, move to Sweden.