The Journal printed an all-time head-scratcher Friday titled "How Millennials Can Live Bernie's Dream." It claims Bernie Sanders supporters should "feel like [they're] in socialist heaven" because of how progressive the U.S. government already is. "[A] long-running American experiment in socialism is still going strong," it reads. The participants, and their spouses and children, get free health care! Free education! Salaries and benefits! How stupid the millennials are to fight for socialism when it's already here!
There must be a catch, you say, and there's a small one. You have to join the Army to participate.
That's the last line in the article written by Jeremy Stern, a lieutenant in the Army. To my mind, they could have replaced it with a more succinct, "HA! YOU WERE AN IDIOT TO READ THIS!" Because it's not exactly a news flash to hear that America provides Scandinavian Socialist-style benefits to, ahem, PEOPLE WHO WORK. Serious newspaper. Opinion section article. Could have been headlined, "PEOPLE WHO WORK GET MONEY AND BENEFITS AND STUFF!"
But really, the guy is recommending the Army? I wouldn't work at Wal-Mart and they'd let me have Cheetos and fruit punch for lunch. I'd have to wear a blue polyester vest but my boss wouldn't make me clean toilets with a toothbrush if he couldn't bounce a quarter off my bed. And you can claim grade school for children of inductees is "free" but spending your days in Iraqi minefields might be slightly more annoying than paying $214 a month.
I'm not laboring under the delusion that Scandinavia is heaven. I'm not moving there because free health care isn't worth the high cost of bulky sweaters. I don't think it's a fair trade: sure, I'd like a hefty retirement pension, but I also like sandwiches made from two slices of bread. Adios pastrami, roast beef, country ham, grilled chicken or bacon; every day, everywhere it's open-faced whitefish with dill.
It's ridiculous, though, to pretend it's like being in the Army. Swedes don't have to shave their heads. They don't all sleep in one giant room, or shower together. They don't roust themselves out of bed when somebody plays a bugle. And when they're giving PowerPoint presentations about maintaining greenspace around the wetlands, their bosses don't repeatedly scream, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
Needless to say, I don't think competent journalists can pretend being in the Army is close to Bernie's goal. He may be from Vermont but I don't think he'll make anybody move to Pakistan before he breaks up banks that are too big to fail. And he may look crazy but I don't think he intends to fight income inequality by sending poor people overseas. Still, I get how "Bernie's Dream" can be difficult for privileged white folk to grasp, because it doesn't help the rich get richer before the rest of us can go home with the flu.