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Promising the Impossible While Sacrificing Liberty

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However noble-sounding promises of more for you at others’ expense can be made to sound by way of sins of omission, they violate America’s core values.

 

In a June 13 speech, Bernie Sanders offered the clarion call for his presidential run—that solving the problems facing America requires we

take the next step forward and guarantee every man, woman and child in our country basic economic rights—the right to quality health care, the right to as much education as one needs to succeed in our society, the right to a good job that pays a living wage, the right to affordable housing, the right to a secure retirement, and the right to live in a clean environment.

Unfortunately, in echoing both the Soviet and EU constitutions, Sanders is also promising mutually contradictory rights, which logic demonstrates cannot possibly be delivered.

The Constitution of the Soviet Union assured citizens of multiple rights, including to education, housing, health protection, work, “maintenance in old age,” and even “rest and leisure.” But the exercise of such rights was always subject to the condition that they were not “to the detriment of the interests of society or the state.” In other words, individual rights only actually existed where and when the state decided it didn’t get in the way of what it wanted to do. More briefly, it meant citizens’ individual rights didn’t exist except on paper.

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