By Richard Colman
There are extremists in both major American political parties.
The time has come to rid ourselves, especially in California, of extremists.
This column will focus on left-wing extremism. (At a future time, there will be a column on right-wing extremism.)
In the Democratic Party, there are extreme elements that want to seize private property, redistribute income, increase taxes, and bankrupt the nation. During the 2020 Democratic primary season, Americans heard from such left-wing Democratic politicians as Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), both of whom called for nation-wide health insurance and free higher education at state universities.
Admittedly, there are needs for reforms in higher education and in the way health care is handled. But the Democratic Party does not, in general, examine the cost of an agenda favoring reform.
The risks of unbridled spending are huge. Just look at America’s national debt. In 1837, there was no national debt. By 1981, the national debt reached a record $1 trillion. Today, the national debt is over $26 trillion and is growing rapidly.
Debt is generally financed by selling what are called U.S. Treasuries, which are bonds that individuals, corporations, and foreign governments buy. Bonds are really loans. The loans pay an interest rate. The loans are generally safe as long as the bond-issuer has a reputation for repaying debt.
As long as American debt can be sold, there should be no problem. But what happens when buyers of American debt say, “No more?” America becomes something like Argentina or Venezuela. Does any serious investor want to buy bonds issued by Argentina or Venezuela?
The consequences of left-wing promises are a weaker dollar and inflation. A weaker dollar makes American goods (like agricultural products) easier to sell to foreigners. For example, if a bushel of American soybeans, which are generally used for animal feed, costs $9 in 2020 and only $5 in 2021, more soybeans will be sold abroad. However, as demands for soybeans increases abroad, prices, because of increased world-wide demand for soybeans, will rise here in the U.S.
As for inflation, the 1970 dollar is now worth 15 cents.
But there is more concerning Democratic Party extremism. Extremists in the party want free child care, free pre-school, and free tuition at state universities. The current $26 trillion national debt could become much, much larger. As debt becomes larger, certain Democrats will want to increase taxes, further impoverishing many Americans.
Democrats, in general, favor gay marriage and abortion. Why not leave these matters to the individual or to individuals? There is no need for government to get involved.
Some states want to ban abortion. These states should not try to control human behavior. (Some people favor a compromise that bans abortion after something like five or six months of pregnancy.)
Extremist Democrats want to redistribute wealth. There is support for higher taxes on billionaires. Why should anyone care if someone like the late billionaire Steve Jobs of Apple, the computer company, made a fortune developing products like the iPhone, the iPod, the i-Pad, the Mac computer, special film animation (Pixar), and other inventions? If burdensome taxes and regulations were placed on Jobs, he might not have developed any new products.
Some elements in the Democratic Party favor what is called diversity. Diversity can mean that groups, not individuals, have rights. Does someone from Group X get admitted to a university because of group membership? Admission should be based on merit and talent.
In the early 20th century, A. Lawrence Lowell, the president of Harvard University from 1909 to 1933, argued that Harvard had too many Jewish students. Lowell wanted Harvard to have a Jewish quota of 15 percent. At the time Lowell made his comments, the Harvard student body was over 20 percent Jewish.
What is the antidote to Democratic extremism? The antidote can be simple. Give Americans a chance to own something, especially a house. For example, on many homes, the mortgage interest payments are tax deductible. This tax-deducibility may not be good economics, but home ownership gives a person a stake in his own community. An owner, as opposed to a renter, will take better care of something that is owned.
Who said the following: “A nation of homeowners, of people who own a real share of their own land, is unconquerable?” The answer is President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, and probably the one politician more Democrats idolize than any other figure.
Another Democrat, Bill Clinton, in 1974, about 20 years before he became president, said, “The people want a hand up, not a handout.”
The Democratic Party needs to embrace centrist ideas. The words of Presidents Roosevelt and Clinton ought to be a model for Democratic Party thinking.
Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company. He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Orinda, California.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.