Sunday, January 24, 2016

Setting Bernie Sanders Straight on the So-Called 'Billionaire Class' Problem

Don Boudreaux writes the Washington Post:

Charles Lane usefully reveals that what Bernie Sanders calls “the billionaire class” does not exist in any ideologically meaningful sense (“Actually, the ‘billionaire class’ might be more progressive than Sanders says,” Jan. 21). But a deeper criticism of Mr. Sanders’s politics is warranted: he’s shooting at the wrong target.

Mr. Sanders aims his venom at billionaires because he wants to prevent (in the words of his adviser Tad Devine) “the use of wealth and power to intervene in the political system for one’s own economic self-interest.” This goal is indeed noble. But it is best achieved, not by attempting to ensure that only the ‘right’ people control state power, but by reducing state power itself. Put differently, the fundamental problem is not in the identity of those who wield power but, rather, in the very existence of power.

To suppose that the vast and awesome state power that Mr. Sanders clamors for will not soon be seized by special-interest groups and demagogues who have no qualms about using such power for their “own economic self-interest” at the expense of the populace at large is a fantasy as dangerous as it is na├»ve and historically unwarranted.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.

RW note: Rand Paul needs to read this also. SEE:Rand Paul: Power in the Wrong Hands is a Dangerous Thing


  1. Bingo. And such a tempting avenue of common cause between libertarians and liberals. This has potential to get them to wake up to the folly of their methods toward achieving their own goals.

  2. That last paragraph is so well written it should be on bumper stickers and t-shirts.

    Well put Prof. Boudreaux!