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Sanders writes: "The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Why are we so far behind so many other countries when it comes to meeting the needs of working families and the American middle class?"

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Drew Angerer/Getty)
Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Drew Angerer/Getty)

Why Not?

By Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

01 July 15


ur job is not to think small. It is to think big.

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Why are we so far behind so many other countries when it comes to meeting the needs of working families and the American middle class?

Why doesn't every American have access to healthcare as a basic right?

Why can't every American who is qualified get a higher education, regardless of family income?

Why can't we have full employment at a decent living wage?

Why must many older Americans be forced to choose between paying for food, shelter, or medical care?

Why can't working parents have access to affordable, high-quality childcare?

We should be asking questions like these every day. We have more billionaires in this country than any other nation on earth. We also have more child poverty than any other major industrialized nation. We have the highest rate of student debt. We have more prisoners, more homeless people and more economic inequality.

It doesn't have to be this way. These conditions are the result of deliberate policy decisions. We provide outrageous tax loopholes for billionaires and large corporations. The top tax rate is less than half of what it was during the postwar economic boom. The real minimum wage has fallen dramatically since the 1960s.

We can make better choices. Let's look at some of the issues that matter most to the American people:

Health Care for All

35 million Americans still lack health insurance. Millions of others are under-insured, with high deductibles and copayments that can make needed medical treatment unaffordable.

We are the only major industrialized country in the world that does not provide universal health care for all its citizens. Medicare is much more cost-effective than private insurers, and could serve as the foundation for a single-payer system like those in Great Britain, Spain, Norway, Italy, Iceland and Portugal. Other countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Canada and Denmark, provide universal coverage without a single-payer system but with better controls on costs and service.

If these countries can provide universal health care, why can't we?

Tuition-Free Public Higher Education

Student debt has reached crisis proportions in this country. 41 million Americans are burdened with student debt. Student debt has surpassed credit card debt and is now the second-largest source of personal indebtedness in this country.

People who graduated in 2014 with student debt owed an average of $30,000 each. That's unsustainable, and unforgivable.

College tuition is free in Germany, even for citizens of other countries. It's also free in Denmark, Norway Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and Mexico. If they can do it, why can't we? Why do we accept a situation where hundreds of thousands of qualified people are unable to go to college because their families don't have enough money?

Paid Family Leave

We are the only major nation in the world that doesn't guarantee paid time off for new parents. Of 182 nations that do provide paid leave, more than half guarantee at least 14 weeks off.

In Great Britain, new mothers get 40 weeks of paid leave. 70 percent of countries offer paid leave to new fathers as well. Dads get two weeks of paid leave in Great Britain, Denmark, and Austria.

We are a nation that prides itself on its dedication to family values. Why can't we ensure that new parents have time to bond with their children?

Sick Leave

Even when working Americans face a serious disease like cancer, they have no guarantee of paid sick leave.

The average worker in other developed countries is guaranteed paid sick leave for long-term cancer treatment, for periods that range from 22 days in Canada to 44 days in Germany and 50 days in Norway.

We are the only one of 22 wealthy nations that does not guarantee some type of paid sick leave. When will we join the rest of the world in ensuring that ailing workers can get well without going broke?

Paid Vacation

We are the only advanced economy, and one of only 13 nations in the entire world, that doesn't guarantee workers a paid vacation. Workers in France get an entire month of paid time off every year. Scandinavian workers are guaranteed 25 paid vacation days per year. In Germany the figure is 20 days, and Japan and Canada each guarantee 10 paid vacation days per year.

It's common (although not guaranteed) for higher-paid American workers to get some vacation time. But half of all low-wage workers in this country get no paid time off at all.


Americans are overworked in other ways, too. Despite huge increases in productivity over the last 100 years, Americans continue to work some of the longest hours on earth. Vast majorities of working people (85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women) work more than 40 hours per week. Compare that to a country like Norway, where only 23 percent of males and 8 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.

Every year Americans work 137 hours more than Japanese workers, 260 hours more than British workers, and 499 hours (62.3 days) more than French workers -- despite the fact that productivity has risen 400 percent since 1950!

Other countries are moving in the opposite direction. Spain, Norway, and the Netherlands have all shortened their workweeks to 35 hours. Interestingly, those countries have higher productivity than those with a 40-hour workweek.

We're also spending more years of our life at work. Millions of Americans are delaying retirement -- and, in some cases, working until the day they die. Polls have shown that a third of Americans are afraid they will never be able to retire.


We're lagging behind in other areas too, ranging from childcare costs to internet access. We can and must do better. That means addressing the great economic, political, and moral issue of our time: wealth and income inequality. We have more inequality today than at any time since 1928. That is unacceptable.

We must send a simple message to the billionaire class: You can't have it all.

They will argue, of course. So will the politicians who serve them. They will insist that we can't do better, that we can't have the same basic rights as citizens of other countries.

It's time to ask them, and ourselves, a simple but very important question: Why not? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+107 # Dongi 2015-07-01 14:16
Why not? Because a small number of people are fabulously rich. They are able to buy a goodly number of those who make the laws, the so called legislators, by giving them huge campaign contributions. Because the Supreme Court allowed this arrangement thus requiring a constitutional amendment to change things. The Republican Party also shows an incredible disposition to favor big wealth although Democrats have also succumbed to the temptation of election money. Clinton and Obama certainly know which side their bread is buttered on.

So go Bernie, go. The hopes of the middle and lower classes ride with you. Your questions are terrific.
+34 # Inspired Citizen 2015-07-02 04:59
A group of us formed a Bernie or Bust write-in campaign to twist arms and apply leverage for him during the primaries as a way to fight the moneyed candidates like #CorruptClinton.

Take the pledge to the new American revolution.
+10 # ritawalpoleague 2015-07-02 10:03
GO, BERNIE, GO - into being the Dem. nominee, then elected POTUS. You are sooooo correct, Dongi.

Bernie Sanders, unlike Hillary Clinton and all the bought off, pol. puppet whores who are endlessly declaring: "I'm running for president.", is not into politics for greed and need for power over all. Instead, for forty years (and then some), Bernie has proven by his actions that he is a real McCoy people server. He is brilliant, ethical, and compassionate plus, and, he's our ray/ocean of hope, in that he praises dear Pope Francis and clearly means it, as his massive numbers of supporters at his numerous gatherings (i.e. approx. six thousand in Colorado and ten thousand in Wisconsin, etc., etc., etc.) stand up and cheer for his and the Pope's firm stands on saving Mother Earth and all life on it, caring for and assisting vs. enslaving and/or slaughtering all the poor and suffering, et. al..

SANDERS PANDERS NOT, TO THE 1% (and neither does Pope Francis)
+60 # tswhiskers 2015-07-01 14:19
It's obvious that other countries aren't as interested as U.S. businessmen in squeezing as much money as they can out of labor to pad their own pockets, and are not about to change their attitudes. The federal govt. and the courts will have to change labor and tax laws. I don't see how CEOs et al can be forced to grow consciences. The only things that will change their attitudes will be HUGE public outcry and the 3 branches actively working for the public goof. Can corporations be shamed into doing the right thing? Unfortunately the virtue of personal honor has been dead for a century or more, and many in our very cynical age would laugh at the very notion of doing the "honorable" thing for employees and the retired. there are things to be done: pressure from the media and individuals (like Bernie), mass movts. like Occupy in front of large banks and investment houses, and of course, mass voting regardless of age, race, or party. Dems. should be working NOW to get potential voters registered and encourage them to vote every 2 years, not just every 4.
+44 # cymricmorty 2015-07-01 22:01
I believe I will die in the harness. It's not a pleasant prospect. In fact, it makes me very angry. That's the way the kleptocrats want it. Help, Bernie Sanders!
+56 # Walter J Smith 2015-07-01 22:24
Thank you, Bernie, Sanders.

Now, please help us retire Pentagon boondoggles, cancel the Pentagon's entire boondoggle budget, and immediately cease funding for programs we know cannot ever function as envisioned. Like the F-35

Thank you.
+15 # lewagner 2015-07-01 22:47
First, I'll tell you why I think "why not".
It's because our tax dollars, plus moral AND MILITARY support are going to Israel and its political situation in the MidEast, rather than to the actual defense of the United States of America, ITS infrastructure, and ITS people's well-being.
Now, I'll ask "WHY?"
-17 # pagrad 2015-07-02 05:35
It's Boobs, as this "lewagner', who practice their nonsense to reduce 'thinking'. That is why.
-28 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-07-02 00:20
The U S is the richest country in the world only based on GDP. NOT after the GDP is divided by population.

OK, Bernie. I like you. Just a fact check.

If a big dog has a bone, a big one, the biggest on the block, that dog is the richest dog on the block. But, suppose that dog has a litter of 7 dogs plus his female friend who birthed the litter, the big bone shrinks a whole lot when split up by 9 dogs.

There are many factors which determine how rich a country is. Almost never do the economists use educational level as a factor. The U S is (sorry folks) listed as having a national average I Q level of 98. Hong Kong, while not a country, is listed as having the highest average I Q. Believe it is 113.

Thus, the U S is listed as a very rich, but not the richest country based on natural resources. Some other factors such as "is the GDP rising faster than the population?" If it is, workers are becoming more productive. The question is, "are the workers sharing in the increased productivity?'

The U S has a disgraceful minimum wage relative to some other major industrialized countries. Australia has a $16.00+ per hour minimum wage (US dollar based) which is approximately double that of the U S. Now, if Australia, on one measure of wealth per person greatly exceeds the U S, are we saying the U S wealth is based on mostly natural resources?
+39 # backwards_cinderella 2015-07-02 02:35
Puppies don't eat bones. They get suckled by the mother. To extend your idiotic analogy further, the US is a bitch who is refusing to suckle her pups while chewing her very own big bone. A bone that has plenty of meat & grizzle & even gravy on it.
-8 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-07-02 08:23
"Puppies don't eat bones." I do appreciate your "relevance" to the conversation. Next time I see my puppy dog eating a bone, I will tell her, backwards_cinde rella said, "don't do that!. Not right".

Well, I'm glad you got that figured out. Thank you very much. I didn't figure in the gravy tho. Possible! Also, I might add, don't forget that grapes are bad for dogs and chicken bones. Not that that that comment has any relevance to the conversation. Also, not all bones have meat and grizzle and gravy on them.

You think the litter is still called puppies. Last I looked, they were fully grown.

Thank you Bernie and staff for all the red.
+9 # Charles3000 2015-07-02 07:06
I don't believe GDP is the measure of a country's wealth.
+10 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-07-02 08:26
Depends on who gets what. I tried to explain that idea, but apparently, the analogy was not that good. I got shot down. See my comment above yours.

Actually Qatar is the richest country in the world and that needs to be based on how the GDP pie is split up.

Based on certain standards, the U S is no longer the richest country in the world. Pride, which is a debilitating emotion, keeps us believing we are still the richest country in the world.
+14 # elkingo 2015-07-02 03:00
Isn't it morally obvious?
+37 # pagrad 2015-07-02 05:24
In most northern European nations, Health Care is free; a four-year University Education is free. Republican political dogma dumbs-down the American Citizenry. GOOGLE it. As long as American boobs vote ‘Republican’, it will deprive them of a contented life.
-43 # MidwestTom 2015-07-02 06:24
The poorest 20% in this country would be considered way above average in half of the countries on earth. We are the richest country on earth because of capitalism, no socialist country can come close to the wealth pf our average citizen. Unfortunately we have chosen to try and run the whole world, and that is bankrupting us.
+10 # Charles3000 2015-07-02 07:17
A corporation cannot be created under the US Constitution. They are not recognized in the constitution. We are wealthy in spite of capitalism.
+12 # pop2 2015-07-02 08:17
The fact that "the poorest 20% in this country would be considered way above average in half of the countries on earth" is not something to feel OK about. Neither is it a paean to capitalism. Half of the people on earth live on less than $2.00/day.This fact is the root cause of most of the troubles we face, is collateral damage from capitalism and is a disgrace to our species.
+11 # Bruce Gruber 2015-07-02 08:42
More comparative bullhockey, M.T.
FIRST: Poverty (sub-standard existence) doesn't get weighed comparatively. It just IS. We can do something about it or not - to our peril.

SECOND: "Wealth", as demonstrated by the accumulation of 'capital' - money and stuff - is not a measure of value. Consider if our 0.01% of billionaires (representing almost 3/4 of our nation's riches) all caught bubonic plague from fleas on rats from ghettos in our 'abandoned, for profit cities', how "rich" would they be? The idealistic description of 'capitalism' (ownership of stock in the MEANS of production) is not democratic or representative in the exploitative, residual capitalism of today. Take off your FAUX blinders and consider HOW the rich got that way ... as they steal pension funds they've "hedged" against while dodging taxes that could be used to 'enrich' the lives of all of us.

THIRD: We DO run the whole world. We patrol it with our military, as the British built their empire on the ships/pirates that controlled the seas. Our military bases surround and occupy every foreign nation whose leaders we can "buy" (against the interests of their citizens). Those we can't buy, we depose surreptitiously or we attack. THAT cost IS bankrupting us, ... but don't worry, the 1% don't pay the bulk of that cost either. They take it from OUR paychecks to protect and expand the EMPIRE they own.
+16 # Bruce Gruber 2015-07-02 08:44
But, it is strange that while all this happens, we continue to praise our gods for visiting all this upon us. AND, as the Germans under Nazi propaganda, we praise our warriors, salute our flag, decry those who disagree with us, blame the poor and 'others', and buy lottery tickets.

What's new?
+13 # Seadog 2015-07-02 08:52
Why should America be judged up against Bangla Desh et al.? Nobody is saying they want to see Capitalism stamped out, what people want is a better deal then the shitty one being dealt most of them now.
+3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-07-02 19:52
Sorry MidwestTom

Canada now has a higher net worth per household than the U S.
+4 # Charles3000 2015-07-02 07:12
The best action idea I have seen is described in It results in the payoff of the national with a 2T$ surplus using a very old idea from the USA, an idea the BRIC nations have applied to outstrip us in economic development.
+11 # Sunflower 2015-07-02 07:40
The thing to realize is that there are a LOT more people that are middle class and poor than are wealthy. The trick is to take advantage of this potential. The constant media brainwashing keeps all of us from thinking that it is possible to overthrow the plutocrats-- but we DO have the numbers...
+20 # jon 2015-07-02 07:42
Bernie is like FDR all over again.
-18 # WaaDoo 2015-07-02 08:39
C'mon, Bernie,
You've been Senator long enough to know why! No nation, person, company or organization can borrow it's way out of debt.

Return to pre-1913 days before the FED was created. Force Congress to create and manage money. Eliminate graduated tax etc., including most of the IRS. Implement flat tax, operate within the budget and STOP BORROWING MONEY TO GIVE AWAY TO NATIONS THAT HATE US !
+10 # Bruce Gruber 2015-07-02 09:39
Money is one medium of exchange representing 'value'.. "Debt" is a legal term for an obligation owed for a 'value' conveyed. History suggests that 'public' debt represents government pre-investment policy in the exercise of civic responsibility and policies. A 'budget' represents a plan for expenditure to accomplish goals or plans.

Among the job(s) of Congress are the responsibility to determine public needs, establish policy (law) and establish how those costs are to be borne by the people (taxation and fees). Bonds and Treasury Notes are sold and Income and other taxes and fees established to meet the government obligations and accomplish the priorities represented by elected officials' determinations. That's representative democracy in action.

Getting "out of debt" is NOT the public goal. Accomplishing solutions to public needs IS the goal. Defense expenditures (half our budget) includes lots of "BORROWING MONEY TO GIVE AWAY TO NATIONS' NATION"S whose leaders "LOVE" us - so long as they buy our (often obsolete) military hardware - which we can then control in a way that makes "enemies" who then "HATE US".
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2015-07-02 09:39
Perhaps the "graduated tax" you deplore should, instead, be a graduated insurance policy on the "wealth" of our citizens (including corporations) for the protection of their stuff ... since we are ALL equal in personal 'value' as humans. with little of "money" value for the poor to need 'protecting and defending' their 'graduated' contribution from minimum wage makes no good sense.
+22 # Seadog 2015-07-02 08:44
Here's the thing Bernie wants to represent the 99% and isn't interested in getting rich off the largess of the 1% like Obama , Clinton and most of the rest of the political class. That's what is needed someone in the Oval office that works for US not the tiny elites or even the top 20%. Those folks don't need his help they have their's. FDR was just that and that's why he was loved. He wasn't perfect mind you and he made plenty of mistakes , but the bottom line was he cared and worked for a better life for the masses not the elites. He knew all about the greed and the avarice of his own class having lived among them his whole life. He knew they didn't need his help.
+8 # Vardoz 2015-07-02 11:41
We should not be fooled by Hillary. She is already in bed with Wall St and many corporations. She has not opposed the corporate coup, the TPP. I think she will be a big disappointment. Sanders is a savvy and experienced politician who knows what's the game inside and out in DC. The people of VT keep voting for him because they know what he stands for. So why not give him a chance? What do we have to lose? Many point out the F35 in Burlington as a bad decision but I spoke to his office about it. First VT is a poor state and there are many rules about where and when the F35 can fly. Like it can fly over Maine but not VT. I don't know all the rules. But on the big decisions he has come through on the side of the majority. Just like FDR was not perfect, he may have even arranged for Pearl Harbor to take place to get into the war. But Sanders, in my opinion, is as good as it can get us at this time and I know he will surround himself with the best people and minds to work the system to benefit the majority. A richer nation for all means a richer nation for the top too. But we do not want an Oligarchy, we want a Democracy and as Warren said if you don't fight for what you want, you won't get it. So to me the hopeless odes are closed.
+8 # pop2 2015-07-02 14:53
People in VT have overwhelmingly voted for Bernie across the political spectrum because he articulates problems as they really exist, gets out to meet and talk with his constituents and advocates tirelessly for veterans, the working poor and the otherwise downtrodden. He can do this nationally as well if the media do not marginalize him.
+1 # Pearlbell 2015-07-02 15:43
Bruce Gruber ... your my horse. Team up with Bernie for a solid run for it. You will get mine and I can safely say many other votes. There is nothing better than someone who makes sense.
-3 # Corvette-Bob 2015-07-02 20:19
I agree with Bernie but I support Hillary since I believe she is the one to win the White House. I voted for McGovern and that did not go well.
+3 # Merlin 2015-07-03 02:48
Corvette-Bob 2015-07-02 20:19
"I agree with Bernie but I support Hillary since I believe she is the one to win the White House."

I suggest you think about this some more. This early in the game, you are for sHillary even though you know she does NOT represent your thinking or beliefs?

Bernie does represent you but you are NOT going to fight for him or vote for him?
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2015-07-03 08:12

Democratic 'political' opportunists smell the money surrounding Hillary's coronation. They belly up to the BAR of potential largess in the mega-machine of government and/or government contracting (like the kid in class who brings the teacher flowers rather than 'considered' inquiry).

They did not see it coming when Obama's campaign implied a progressive conception of hope and community based political organization. Hillary's 'investors' were blindsided by the intensity of the public's NEED for change. They still don't get it.

Their new prescription for success is the tried-and-true 'personal' interview with adoring citizens who get to 'lead' Ms. Clinton to an understanding of the nation's priorities she has somehow failed to grasp in the busy schedule of 'resume enhancement' that frog-jumping to New York and Foggy Bottom offered.

Those who worked for McGovern were devastated by the war hero, progressive leader's media crucifixion for his choice of Thomas Eagleton as VEEP.partner. But they have continued their public concern and involvement. I suspect their allegiance is likely 85% for Bernie. Hillary proposed none of the legislation she now "implies" she would support - but STILL does not offer "leadership", whether through ideas or organized promotion

Instead we see the contrast of Bernie's specific solutions of where he would like to take us as our leader. From Hillary we hear what she thinks people want to see be discussed.

Not enough for me!
+1 # Robbee 2015-07-03 15:34
re : The poorest 20% in this country would be considered way above average in half of the countries on earth. We are the richest country on earth because of capitalism, no socialist country can come close to the wealth pf our average citizen.

- tom, i think i know what your problem is, you can take the boy out of the midwest, but you can't take the midwest out of the boy

alot of countries that run on socialist principles do alot better for their citizens that we do for ours, they are healthier, live longer and live better quality lives than we do - you need to get out more!

also note that one thing you write makes little sense : you write : no socialist country can come close to the wealth pf our average citizen

- tom, our problem is we have no average citizen, not one - moreover our median citizen, and we do have one of these, owns very little
-1 # tanis 2015-07-04 08:00
FDR saved the country. Well, the war helped, the people were better off with SS and all the other things that were embarked upon at the time. However, when USA was finally in the clear economically, FDR said Capitalism was preserved and healthy.
So, as shown many times before, capitalism survives and a few get rich and down goes the economy. Is that what is needed now?

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