Friday, June 05, 2015
Take a look at this photo. Do you recognize it? Don't worry, these aren't people you'd know. Then again, if you know your American history, you'd know who these people are. Not who they are, but maybe what they are. If you don't recognize them, they're Dust Bowl farmers. And if you don't know what the Dust Bowl was, allow me to explain:
In the 1930s, the American Midwest was ravaged by drought and winds that blew away thousands of square miles of topsoil from America's farmlands. The country was still reeling from the Great Depression and what came to be known as the Dust Bowl pretty much eliminated any hope of farmers making a living. Banks foreclosed on family-owned farms, rendering good, hard-working people homeless.
You may have read about the Dust Bowl in John Stenbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. It's a depressing story based on even more depressing facts. It was during this time that a peculiar character appeared throughout the drought-stricken region: The Rainmaker. Roaming from town to town, the Rainmaker gathered up the down-trodden Dust Bowl farmers and convinced them that for a fee, he could make it rain. The rain would tease their crops out of the ground and all would be well.
While this may sound fantastic to you and me, to a group of gullible, desperate, trusting men and women, the Rainmaker seemed like their one last hope. So they paid the fee with the very last money they had and looked toward the skies. The Rainmaker proceeded to do whatever he did and rode out of town, promising rain within a few days. Of course, the rain never came and the farmers lost their farms.
It's a sad story. You'd think people would learn from it. But the temptation of easy, simple solutions is almost impossible to resist when you tell desperate people what they want to hear. And thus we have Bernie Sanders, running for President of the United States.
Read any social media platform and you're sure to find someone, somewhere posting a meme about Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed Socialist from Vermont. Usually, it has something to do with taking the money spent on a foreign war and spending it on jobs here in America. Or cutting military spending in favor of giving everyone a free college education. I'm pretty sure his most ardent fans like his proposal of raising taxes on the wealthy and simply giving the proceeds to everyone else.
Like the Rainmaker, Sanders' pitch sounds pretty cool, especially to young people who have nothing to show for themselves yet: free stuff for everyone at no cost to anyone. But when you look a bit closer, it becomes apparent that Sander's proposals hold just as much water as the Rainmaker's.
To the desperately poor and unemployed, anything is better than nothing -- and they live with plenty of nothing. No doubt, it's very difficult for many people to live, even with the so-called "economic recovery" that nobody seems to be enjoying. So Sanders tosses out remedies that have no basis in reality. Take cutting military spending, for example. To the uninitiated, it sounds great. After all, who's really going to miss one or two stealth fighters?
I'll tell you who: the people who want employment. Here's how it works:
Every jet fighter is composed of hundreds of thousands of parts. Each of those parts has to be designed, created, manufactured, inspected, tested, shipped, billed, accounted, assembled, tested again and delivered. And that's just for a stealth fighter. That's not even a complete list. Every step of the way, people are paid to do those jobs. You cut delivery of those jets, tanks, missiles, aircraft, launchers, guns, bullets, drones, avionics and everything else, you're actually going to create more unemployment, not less.
Free college educations? To whom? For what? America is already flooded with college graduates whining about their student loans which they can't pay back because their college degrees didn't deliver the jobs they assumed they would.
Starting to get the picture? It doesn't matter what the Rainmaker promises. All he cares about is getting his fee so that he can move on to the next group of suckers. Sanders is branding himself as the patron saint of the working man. And they're desperate enough to believe him.
Unfortunately, this Rainmaker will leave them high and dry, too.