On Monday evening, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Moore, and economist Darrick Hamilton hosted a townhall on inequality in America. This makes sense, since they should know an awful lot about it: Sanders owns three homes, Michael Moore owned nine homes as of 2014 and was worth $50 million then, Warren lives in a $2.4 million home and is worth between $3.7 and $10 million herself. All three of them are intent on rectifying the financial imbalances in America by taxing people who make less than they do to pay people who make even less than that, presumably.
All in all, 1.7 million people engaged with the live townhall, at which the participants whined about the terrible fate of people living in the freest, most prosperous country in world history. The participants also ripped into the media for covering Russia and Stormy Daniels but not the downtrodden, with Sanders spitting, “What I would say to our friends in the corporate media: Start paying attention to the reality of how many people in our country are struggling economically every single day — and talk about it.”
Several guests joined during the course of the evening to talk about issues ranging from environmental regulation to campaign finance reform. Elizabeth Warren touted unions: “Unions built America’s middle class. It’ll take unions to rebuild America’s middle class.” This isn’t even close to true, but it makes for a good campaign talking point for her 2020 run (in point of fact, America’s middle class was burgeoning long before the advent of the union movement, and in the aftermath of the downfall of private unions, Americans have been moving into the upper middle class at a rapid rate). Moore, meanwhile, directed his fire at the Democrats: “It’s so important that we hold the people who say they’re for the people — hold their feet to the fire! And if they’re not going to do the job they say they’re going to do, let’s get somebody else.” Never mind that Moore backed Hillary Clinton, the essence of the establishment, in the last presidential cycle.
And, of course, there was Sanders’ usual economic illiteracy: “In recent years, we have seen incredible growth in the number of billionaires, while 40 million Americans continue to live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth.” The billionaires are not, of course, stealing from small children; America has a rich welfare system for childhood poverty. And America does not have the highest rates of childhood poverty — we have higher rates of relative poverty than other countries (meaning the number of children living at 50% or below a country’s median income, which is still relatively rich by global standards). Even Politifact, a left-wing outlet, has rated Sanders’ statements along these lines “mostly false.”
If these rather rich central-planning advocates want income equality, they can begin by taking out their checkbooks. But that’s not the agenda. The agenda is political power, and demagoguery in its pursuit.