Former Vice President Joe Biden denies he’s a socialist or even looks like one. Before accepting this on face value, skeptical voters might want to recall what then California Gov. Ronald Reagan told a journalist in a 1967 interview: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
Joe Biden is no duck. But the Big Government programs he and his Democratic socialist collaborators have hatched look a lot like socialism. Voters will decide how much they resemble socialism on Nov. 3.
Following the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Biden partnered with self-described Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to create six “Unity Task Forces” to develop policies agreeable to both camps. The environmental task force was co-chaired by another self-described Democratic socialist, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the lead supporter of the Green New Deal, a multi-trillion-dollar government takeover of the economy camouflaged as a check on climate change.
Biden supports the framework of the Green New Deal, but most voters don’t understand how it would work in practice. They need look no further than Democrat-controlled California — where the governor already has set a timetable for banning the sale of traditional automobiles and the state’s transition to “renewable energy” has resulted in rolling blackouts and power shortages. That’s the Green New Deal in practice.
Another socialist idea to emerge from a Biden-Sanders task force is a government-run banking system operated by the Federal Reserve and U.S. Postal Service. What could possibly go wrong with two government bureaucracies, one problem-plagued and perpetually in the red, operating a massive banking infrastructure with control over your money? “Postal banks” would undermine private banks, moving the U.S. closer to the socialist ideal of a nationalized financial sector.
There’s more. Biden also has promised to placate Sanders supporters by expanding Medicare and canceling college debts. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of Congress’s Democratic socialist “Squad,” said Biden is “going to be responsive to the policy positions we are advocating for.” One of Omar’s favorite policy ideas is to cancel all rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic and to seize the property of any landlord who doesn’t cooperate — a Mafia boss would be envious.
If Joe Biden is as committed to the well-being of ordinary middle-class Americans as his staged “speeches” and campaign ads imply, he would spend his evenings in his basement hideaway reading the 2020 Economic Freedom of the World report published recently by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada. The report identifies Hong Kong (pre-China-crackdown) as the most economically free political entity in the world (for now), followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia and the United States (for now).
There are reasons for this. Research has shown that higher levels of individual economic freedom in a country result in higher personal income and improved outcomes in such areas as child mortality, education, life expectancy, business startups, and upward mobility of women and the poor. More economic freedom allows people to flourish with dignity.
The authoritarian countries in which the people have the least economic freedom — Iran, Angola, Libya, Sudan and Venezuela — are all weak in these areas.
Americans who think a socialist-driven collapse could never happen here should look at Venezuela. Venezuelans once had the fourth-highest income per capita in the world — 12 times higher than China’s. The country was ranked 10th best in the world in economic freedom. Today Venezuela is an economic basket case thanks to the socialist policies of Presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, who nationalized key industries, destroyed the currency through hyperinflation, and imposed confiscatory taxes to pay for bloated social programs and handouts to cronies. What’s to keep Joe Biden’s proposed multi-trillion-dollar tax increase from doing the same?
Socialism inevitably ends in ruin wherever it’s applied. Joe Biden is working with socialist cronies to craft massive government programs that would further strip away fundamental economic and personal freedoms. Voters have good reason to keep these realities in mind.
Lawrence J. McQuillan is a senior fellow with the Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif., where Douglas E. Koehler is a policy analyst.