Carl Hiaasen's article has this title in the Miami Herald : Free tuition? Bernie, what are you smoking?
I'm sure it's not politically correct, especially in the nervous nelly writing community, to take on a popular bestselling author, but when one states political talking points that reek of conservatism and abject cynicism, he or she should be challenged.
Talk about misrepresenting a position … If I’m not mistaken (and I sure could be), Hiaasen is an environmentalist, at least the protagonists in the few novels I read of his were (entertaining and funny). I found it interesting that his column in the Miami Herald didn’t touch on that issue at all. In fact, it was one cheap shot after another at Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and it couldn’t read more like DNC/GOP talking points. Unless, of course, they were. And maybe they are?
Hiaasen was basically playing Hickey from The Iceman Cometh, relentlessly implying that Bernie Sanders political goals are nothing but pipe dreams. He cites figures as if he has the vital information at his fingertips, but minus the movement and all its potential. I think most of us know that the figures sprouted by candidates, never mind their pundits, are as useful as their rhetoric in solving problems. Numbers are always manipulated, but let’s give him his figures and assume they're all accurate.
“Bernie’s free-college plan is the liberal equivalent of Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexican border — a crowd-rousing campaign promise that is utter fantasy.”
First off, when did Bernie Sanders EVER promise ANYTHING? Obviously, Mr. Hiaasen hasn’t made it through any of Sanders' campaign speeches.
FIRST MISREPRESENTATION: “On his website he offers more financing details than Trump ever does, but the calculations are wishful thinking. A “Robin Hood Tax” on Wall Street investment houses and hedge funds would supposedly raise $47 billion of the estimated $70 billion that it now costs students to attend public colleges and universities … Bernie says the remaining $23 billion would come from the individual states themselves. Seriously? In what bizarre parallel universe would 50 state legislatures (30 of them controlled by Republicans) raise or redistribute taxes to subsidize this program?”
Of course Hiaasen’s claims, like Clinton’s talking points, ignore what was mentioned above: Sanders has repeatedly stated that no one person/president can get anything done by themselves. Bernie has stated at every rally that it would require a political revolution; that it would require the help of Congress, and that the political revolution would have to continue. While pundits and their sycophants continue to poke fun at Sanders, going back to when he was 60-70% behind Clinton nationally, they ignore where he’s come (and without ANY help from the DNC and/or the bribes of big business). Personally, I think that scares them into the typical claims against lefties: we're all seeking Utopia. It's the same kind of attack rednecks from both the north and the south once thought about a female and/or African-American vote.
The assumption that a progressive Congress, say after the mid-term elections if Bernie manages to energize the same voting public he did thus far, is also a pipe dream is way too cynical. I say: says who? If a Progressive could become President, why couldn’t Congress muster enough progressive seats to push through some of Bernie’s legislation? Bernie wouldn’t use the bully pulpit the way Barry did (for photo ops). He’d use his grass roots movement to get the clogs in the system (blue dogs) out of the way the same way the Tea Party took out so many moderate Republicans. Easier said than done, no doubt, but again, he was supposed to be a fringe candidate. Who knows what he might’ve accomplished if he had the DNC working with him rather than against him.
SECOND MISREPRESENTATION: “Given Wall Street’s enormous clout in Washington, there’s a better chance of the House and Senate legalizing heroin than approving Bernie’s proposed “speculation fee” on all stock and bond trades.”
See answer directly above (it applies). The other side of this coin is: I guess Hiaasen is fine and dandy with the system as is. I guess he’s fine with it getting worse. Maybe his fictional environmentalist is more fiction than we had hoped? I mean, what does he (Hiaasen) think about fracking? Good idea? Let’s do more? Hillary sure doesn’t have a problem with it, and we know the Republicans can attain wood over the mere mention of fracking. Is he aware, for instance, that the system in place he's so anxious to defend, just provided BP with a $15.3 Billion Tax Write-Off?
THIRD MISREPRESENTATION: “More importantly, the prospect of free tuition would attract many more young people to enroll in state schools, hiking the cost of the program way beyond Bernie’s $70 billion model.”
First off, what's wrong with that? I'm sure we could find the cash, assuming we have the willpower and the right Congressional makeup. Think about the waste in the cost of wars, wars Bernie wants no part of. That's $4-6 TRILLION, Hojo. Way more than enough. And it isn’t an open door policy, and Bernie NEVER said it was. He’s not advocating daycare for college age people. Bernie has stated over and over that it applies to students who are academically eligible. If they work hard and can make the grade, they shouldn’t be turned away because of insufficient finances. HUGE DIFFERENCE.
# 4: “Their most hardcore fans have in common a fervor that’s doomed to be deflated … There will be no free college for all Americans. The more jaded primary voters know this, and some of them don’t care.”
If public education from grades 1-12 is a given, why shouldn’t public colleges and universities be included? Of course they should and will be some day; it’s just a matter of time. But what a pair of tiny balls Hiaasen shows here. First of all, none of Bernie’s supporters think for a second that what Bernie proposes would happen overnight. It’s a political start and an extension of the Occupy movement, and maybe that frightens Hiaasen and his ilk. But let’s position his cynicism against similar cynicism of the past. To wit: “Oregon followed a similar path, but gave only white males the right. Their constitution specifically stated that “No negro, Chinaman, or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”\
One has to assume he’s never heard of Gandhi either. As for his jaded primary voters, we're not in this just to elect Bernie Sanders president. Very much like the Trump voters, we're in this to shake up a corrupt political system. A system that has destroyed the middleclass, or are those numbers (the ones showing middleclass decline) too far from the reach of his fingertips?
To be fair, Hiaasen does state the following, although he neglects to point out that it’s what Sanders has been stating all along: “The fact is, no president can tackle those problems without Congress and the courts, or even begin to try. Movements start with big and improbable ambitions, but to succeed they need a political pathway.”
Does he feel silly yet? He should.
He ends his piece with this extra cynical twist: “Maybe the only way to bring everyone together is to pay college students to build that wall.”
No, Mr. Hiaasen, we’re all looking forward to letting two parties that are OWNED by special interests not only continue to appoint our politicians, but we’ll expect them to hand out parcels of land so we can do away with public education altogether. We can learn to farm and become sharecroppers, just like the good old days. Or was that Mao’s Cultural Revolution?
One thing for sure, should we become sharecroppers, we’ll have to import that water unless we intend to use our hoses like flamethrowers when watering the crops. All that extra fracking methane, you know …
Wonder if he’s ever seen one of the two Gasland documentaries? Nothing quite like the free market system, eh?
Or Gasland 2 ...