Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …
Sanders: Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal.I'm not so sure the Koch brothers thought that up but to Democrats and socialists who vote with the Democrats the Koch brothers are the root of all evil.
Sanders: Of course. That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States …Then the old socialist, Sanders, lets it be known he is an American first.
Klein: But ... it would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn't it?
Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer — you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.No. It's not the right wing that advocates for open borders it's Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. One would ruin the country to maintain political power and the other because he evidently has not yet made enough money. In spite of his political dementia Sanders is an inveterate populist. If Sanders wants root out corruption he should follow the money. The mutual love between Washington and Silicon Valley is downright scary.
Sanders: You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?Then why did he vote for the gang of 8 bill? I never thought men such as Eugene Debs, Bob La Follette or Bernie Sanders were bad people but I certainly think there were and are terribly wrong. The notion that government should run the economy assumes that people in government have the competence to do so. In a market economy decisions are made by millions of bright, half-bright, and stupid people not a few hundred thousand unimaginative bureaucrats. Bernie Sanders may be wrong headed but he is not stupid. Klein, on the other hand...
I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.
Klein: Then what are the responsibilities that we have? Someone who is poor by US standards is quite well off by, say, Malaysian standards, so if the calculation goes so easily to the benefit of the person in the US, how do we think about that responsibility? We have a nation-state structure. I agree on that. But philosophically, the question is how do you weight it? How do you think about what the foreign aid budget should be? How do you think about poverty abroad?
Sanders: I do weigh it. As a United States senator in Vermont, my first obligation is to make certain kids in my state and kids all over this country have the ability to go to college, which is why I am supporting tuition-free public colleges and universities. I believe we should create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to at least 15 bucks an hour so people in this county are not living in poverty. I think we end the disgrace of some 20 percent of our kids living in poverty in America. Now, how do you do that?
What you do is understand there's been a huge redistribution of wealth in the last 30 years from the middle class to the top tenth of 1 percent. The other thing that you understand globally is a horrendous imbalance in terms of wealth in the world. As I mentioned earlier, the top 1 percent will own more than the bottom 99 percent in a year or so. That's absurd. That takes you to programs like the IMF and so forth and so on.
But I think what we need to be doing as a global economy is making sure that people in poor countries have decent-paying jobs, have education, have health care, have nutrition for their people. That is a moral responsibility, but you don't do that, as some would suggest, by lowering the standard of American workers, which has already gone down very significantly.