Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Higher taxes are not the only economics implications of a Sanders presidency, especially when you look at some of the governments Sanders has praised over his career. A better tax structure is necessary and the easiest thing to do, but I don't trust Sanders to figure that out. Even Warren comes up with a wealth tax instead of just fixing the income and capital gains tax brackets.

Hint: add three more brackets with 4mm+ at 50%, 20mm+ at 65% and 100mm+ at 80% and do the same relative adjustments for capital gains. No need for the government to seize the means of production when you haven't tried the obvious thing. Our current tax brackets are a joke, topping out around 500k when some people make 10,000 times that.

> especially when you look at some of the governments Sanders has praised over his career.

Can you be more specific here?

I mean, there can be praise for some governments without saying we advocate for everything they do. It's possible for instance to praise Cuba for health care outcomes without wanting to become Fidel Castro. There are also some ridiculous insinuations that Sanders is some kind of Chavista, which to me is a bit of a flag that someone isn't serious about their anti-Sanders discussion. I would say he advocates for more of a European type of safety net.

> No need for the government to seize the means of production

I do not believe Sanders proposes that.

From Wikipedia (prior to elected office): advocated for nationalization of major industries, including those in the manufacturing, energy and banking sectors. In 1974, he advocated for a marginal tax rate of 100% on income over one million dollars, saying that "Nobody should earn more than a million dollars"


I doubt Sanders still advocates for most of these positions, and he is of course a millionaire now.

You're confusing wealth with income

You can advocate for nationalization of some industries and high income taxes [like we had in the 50s] without going Full Communist or even pulling a Hugo Chávez.

Check out this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nationalizations_by_co...

Amtrak was the one that came to mind for me. Nationalizing rail service has been pretty common in multiple countries over time. Sometimes private utilities also get absorbed by local governments. The history of fire departments in this country has a lot of that. The UK has an even longer list, you will note. Mexico nationalized gas stations in the 20th century.

I want to address your points re Cuba and Venezuela.

I'm going to start with Venezuela since I am a Venezuelan-American and you might not like what my views are on the topic. First of all, I always assume good faith, even when it comes down to Sanders, unlike Michael Moore, for instance.

- Venezuela

Sanders expressed his support of Chavez in many of his writings. So, you might not consider him a Chavista, but he's definitely praised Chavez at least up to 2011 [1].

I know this is anecdotal, I visited Venezuela many times: 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013. Believe me, anyone with good faith could not have praised whatever was going down there in 2011. 2000? I can give you the benefit of the doubt. Chavez had only been in office for ~3 years by the time and hadn't shown what an awful dictator he was going to become.

- Cuba

Have you been to Cuba? Again, this is anecdotal, but nothing like first hand experience on a matter to make some people understand what the ugly reality is outside whatever some organization states on what the state of those countries are.

Trust me, you don't want to be in a Cuban hospital.

>> No need for the government to seize the means of production > I do not believe Sanders proposes that.

Here's a video [2] where Chavez is seizing the means of production on national TV.

I find deeply sad when some Americans try to justify certain candidates who have supported awful governments, like Chavez's or Castro's.

[1] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaigns/sanders-di...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-zfD5SKeVQ

I am not a fan of Chávez or Maduro or Evo Morales and that sort. There was some more optimism when that political wave started, and I in particular used to be more optimistic about them than I am today. This is probably true of a number of American left leaning people.

I have not been to Cuba. I hope to some day. (I speak fluent Spanish btw and hear about these places in their original, local non-US sources.) I do understand that they are said to have good health care outcomes, which is especially remarkable given how the rest of their economic system is going. The United States health care system is very terrible.

> Here's a video [2] where Chavez is seizing the means of production on national TV.

Yeah he does look kind of like a dumbass appropriating buildings on a whim without investigation or any kind of review (for the TV cameras and that silly applause), that was pretty much his way, but it's important to note that Bernie Sanders is not Hugo Chávez and can't be held responsible for the actions of another person, living or dead.

Why do you think the media focuses on acknowledging on this and not the official US policy of support of a monarchy like Saudi Arabia?

Sanders proposes a wealth tax as well. Not knowing that, coupled with ludicrous fears about him “seizing the means of production”, strongly indicates a questionable origin for your impression of Sanders.

The same thing goes for governments that he’s praised, a completely manufactured controversy. It is not condoning authoritarianism to say, for example, that China outperforms the US in infrastructure. People get hysterical about insufficient condemnation of the Cuban regime; I wonder how many are even aware of the murderous right-wing military dictatorship that the US installed and the communists replaced. It’s a very similar situation with respect to Nicaragua. Somehow the outrage about authoritarianism is missing as long as the US is directly profiting from the oppression. See Saudi Arabia vs Iran.

> Sanders proposes a wealth tax as well. Not knowing that

This is my point. They propose a radical new tax that requires measuring people's entire net worth, instead of fixing what's broken using our existing infrastructure which measures forms of income and money flow, because they are clueless, and it's good politics right now. The guy is a self proclaimed socialist, and that means socializing things [0].

I'm not interested in getting deep into another Sanders argument; looks like he is done. Of course, I'd like to see an inventive, creative, data-driven leader -- think Elon Musk, but without a social media presence. But that'll never happen.

[0] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/bernie-sanders-wa...

If measuring wealth is a problem, I'd look into inflation, and Land Value Tax. Inflation would depreciate money, and land value tax would erode physical possession. Then we can redistribute.

Land value tax in particular seems particularly interesting: if generalised to comprise (almost) all of tax, we can expect a drastic simplification of tax collection, and much less paperwork for everyone when doing all kinds of exchanges, paying an employee, selling goods… at least for unregulated activities. And of course, it would make accumulation of wealth more difficult.

Another route, that several countries have partially and successfully taken, is devoting part of salaries to the common good (tax salaries, at it were): a bit to pay for retirement, a bit to pay for hospitals, a bit to pay for unemployment… this could possibly be generalised to outright communism, where the means of productions are no longer owned by capitalists. (I would avoid a command economy however. We most probably want local stuff to be managed locally. For instance, only people living within 1Km of a bakery should have a say about what the bakery should do, and the people working there should probably decide how they want to work.)

The more pressing problem however is handling the coming recession: as energy (oil, coal & stuff) decreases, so will the GDP (it has already started). I don't know how an "ideal" should look like, but it's certainly not a system that assumes growth that isn't there. I'll just note that without growth, inequalities tend to be much less tolerable.

Compare the junior software engineer who spends months writing an elaborate new system, full of bugs, to the senior developer who addresses the same problem with 10 lines of code. Which camp do you think your proposals, or any wealth tax proposal falls into? As opposed to just fixing the tax brackets, and not re-writing any code.

Depends. How big is the rest of the project? I assume the 10 lines of code you are speaking of are a delta. But depending on the rest of the project, the consequences of that small fix could reach further than anticipated.

The new system may be full of bugs, but why would the old system be any better? I've seen old systems. Some of them get their bugs fixed. Many get their bugs worked around, either by the devs, but often by the users themselves: "don't click here, it makes the program crash!"

As for Land Value Tax, do not confuse land with other kinds of wealth. Land doesn't move. Its surface doesn't change. It's market value can change, but it's not wildly fluctuating, like, say, Oil. That makes it much, much easier to tax than whatever property you build on top of it, or goodness forbid whatever precious trinket you might store in that property.

The other proposition, taxing salaries, works today. Taxing more or less salary is just a knob to turn. And at the time such taxes were put in place in France after WW2, the change was swift, and the "new system, full of bugs" worked. Communism (or something close to it) worked, in a Western, democratic country. Okay, it was only applied to school, roads, hospitals, retirement, unemployment insurance, energy… but that's already a pretty big deal, don't you think?


We could "just fix the tax bracket", but then my first reflex would be have a top marginal rate at 100%. I want a limit on maximum individual income. Something like $10M per year to begin with. That may seem ludicrous, to inflict such a brutal end on the American Dream itself. That's it, game over, no one will get rich ever again. But really, that dream is a lie to begin with.

Better yet, we could tether the limit to the median income. Want to get rich? Make your country rich first. That at least should appeal to patriotism, which I believe is still fairly strong in the US.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact