Relearning the 20th Century’s Most Important Lesson

I went to the bank yesterday to get a document notarized, and struck up a great conversation with the lovely associate manager, Roxana. Noticing an Eastern-European accent, I asked her about her background, and she said her family came to the United States from Romania in the 80’s, fleeing the Ceausescu regime. I mentioned that I don’t think many Americans know much about Romania, nor how truly evil Nikolae Ceausescu was. I asked her what her opinion was of the rising popularity of Socialism and even Communism in America as we head toward the 2020 election.

She said “So many Americans have a warped sense of Socialism and Communism. I hear romantic talk from several of my American friends about Socialism, but I urge them to go visit a Socialist country.”

With that, she swept her arms emphatically outward. “I tell them ‘You would not want that. You do not know what you speak of. Socialism is sold to the people in a different way, and it never works’.” She told me of her mother, who used to keep a radio under her pillow at night, to listen to Radio Free Europe, deathly afraid of being arrested by the Securitate for doing so. She dreamed of finally making her own break to the free West.

Romania was one of the most paranoid and closely-controlled Eastern-Bloc states, with an estimated half a million informants monitoring the everyday lives of 22 million people. Children informed on their parents, neighbors on neighbors, teachers on parents and more.

In 1975, when Romania’s coal miners were organizing behind the scenes to strike, the Securitate brought leaders in for medical checkups and x-rayed them each for five minutes straight, intending to give them lung cancer; all died prematurely. In the 1980’s, when central authorities became concerned about birthrates, the Securitate sat in on all gynecological appointments, and prevented all abortions. In 1989, Romanians rose up and finally overthrew the regime, and have moved toward a more Western style economy. Their GDP is up fourfold since then.

The most important lesson we should have learned from 20th Century History is that Socialism and Communism, at national scale, are harmful to prosperity, human rights, liberty, national output like Gross Domestic Product and therefore opportunities for advancement, innovation, private property, personal safety, the environment, religious freedom, women’s rights, gay rights (and all human rights), freedom of speech, freedom of movement, better use of resources, and much, much more.

I am not arguing that America’s current balance of laws and distribution is perfect, nor am I arguing against new regulations which should be passed. I am in fact in favor of most of Bloomberg’s aggressive tax plan, which would raise rates on the wealthy considerably.

But a largely free market with private property (i.e., well-regulated “capitalism”) beats Socialism and Communism any day. We should have learned this over the past 100 years of trying it.

Expand Federal Powers Cautiously

Here in the United States, nearly all federal powers, once granted, live well beyond a single administration. They last through D and R administrations, through competent and less competent, through “good” and “evil.” It is therefore a good exercise to ask yourself, before granting central planners more authority and power over our lives, whether you’re comfortable with that authority and resource allocation being in the hands of your worst ideological enemy.

Too many people seem to assume that these new federal powers will be overseen by a benevolent, transparent, uncorrupt agency and executive, forever. It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider the likelihood that there will some day be an administration which is none of these. Do you wish them to be in control of all those powers?

History’s Lessons

Why does Socialism continue to fail time after time? Why does it never seem to work out as well as envisioned, from the days of New Harmony, Indiana to the USSR, to the Cold War Eastern Bloc, to North Korea to Venezuela? I’d say it’s human nature, and human capacities.

One cannot legislate out the human desire to better oneself nor the life for one’s family. If you put agencies in charge of billions/trillions of dollars, it’s not always going to be the case that you get wise, benevolent resource allocators. Further, most people will expect things in return for their efforts and risk, and will work hard to acquire better resources.

Compounding matters — it’s impossible to unlock, or even to know, the full innovative and productive potential of humans in a command economy, nor the hidden demands as revealed by markets.

A centrally-planned, aggressively re-distributive economy saps the motive from productive and risk-taking humans, and moves all ambition to corrupt power positions of the state. Because it runs counter to human nature, vast security states need to be established, travel must be restricted and oppression must be implemented to force people into a system they do not, by nature, desire.

State-sponsored Socialism has played out this way every single time in the 20th century when it’s been tried.

What are Some of the Most Mind-Blowing Things About Communism?

It’s mind-blowing that Communism still has a hold, and an increasing one at that, on the minds of so many in the “progressive” left, despite its dismal record in the 20th and 21st centuries.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 43% of Americans feel that some form of socialism would be a good thing for the country, gaining 18 percentage points since 1942.

People not impressed with Communism: a West Berliner pulls an East Berliner Up on the Berlin Wall, 1991.

It’s mind-blowing that so many in America, particularly our youth, continue to think Communism and Socialism are somehow preferable, more Utopian, romantic, more efficient, more green, more compatible with human needs and the human condition than our existing system of regulated Capitalism.

This despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And no, Denmark is not a Socialist country.

It’s mind-blowing that while Socialism and Communism seem to be universally hated by the vast majority of people who’ve actually lived under it, it’s desired by a growing many who never have. It’s astonishing that the numerous gripping testimonies of those who have suffered under Communism and Socialism — the brutality, famine, loss of freedoms, corruption, shortages and poverty — aren’t more convincing than their own imagination of just how great it could be. It’s the Tide Pod some would like to eat. It’s the outlet some would like to dangerously short circuit. It’s the “Why are you hitting yourself?! Why don’t you stop hitting yourself?!” of twenty first century America.

It’s mind blowing that the same person who makes a compelling case that accidentally calling a transgendered female by their original male name constitutes “oppression,” also think people in socialist Romania, Russia, Cuba or Venezuela didn’t really live under oppressive regimes.

It’s mind blowing that the numerous people risking their lives and those of their own family to flee from these societies, and conversely essentially zero fleeing to them, isn’t signal enough.

It’s mind blowing that Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in South America, blessed with more copious oil reserves that even Saudi Arabia, and within just twenty five years of Socialism, has a starving people literally eating zoo animals.

It’s mind blowing how quickly socialist supporters parrot some version of the No True Scotsman fallacy when any of this is ever pointed out.

It’s mind-blowing that literally millions of Americans seem to favor Socialism and its close sibling Communism without understanding that it’s never worked out well for those that have had to live under it.

It’s mind-blowing that the same people who regularly label the federal and even local governments as too-authoritarian, out-of-touch with the population’s needs, systemically racist, or much more would also like to hand the federal government much MORE centralization of decision-making, and seem oblivious to the fact that such federal powers, once granted live well beyond one administration.

It’s mind-blowing that 92% of Americans wrongly think that global poverty rates have increased or stayed the same over the past 20 years.

They haven’t. 92% of Americans are dead wrong in that belief. Global poverty rates have dramatically fallen. And why? It’s thanks primarily to movements AWAY FROM, not toward, Communism and Socialism, notably the opening up of private property ownership and some forms of markets in China.

It’s mind-blowing to me that so few of us know the most important lesson from 20th Century History.

The most important lesson we should have learned from 20th Century History is that Socialism and Communism, at national scale, are harmful to prosperity, human rights, liberty, national output like Gross Domestic Product and therefore opportunities for advancement, innovation, private property, personal safety, the environment, religious freedom, gay rights, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, better use of resources, and much, much more.

Mankind has tried it. Numerous times. And it always ends badly. Yet we still have people selling it as some kind of better vision of society than well-regulated market economies.

Neither Communism nor Socialism eliminates greed, nor the “selfish” human desire to better oneself or one’s family. And as long as at least one human being seeks more power for themselves, communism will not be a utopian society. And it ultimately leads to police states and far more corruption than we see in the free enterprise system.

I am in favor of a well-regulated market (capitalist) economy. I think we can and should continue to adjust the regulations we do have. But that doesn’t mean that “abolish capitalism” is a direction we should head. There’s this classic moment with Phil Donahue and Milton Friedman:

“In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty… it’s precisely the places where you’ve had capitalism and largely free trade.” – Milton Friedman

Let’s take a quick trip around the globe in the twentieth and twenty first century at our experiments with socialism and communism:

North Korea vs. South Korea

Same basic ecosystem, same cultural history, one ruled under Socialism, one went with the free market. After only 70 years’ time (just two generations!), here’s a satellite photo at night of how well these two societies are doing. One is an innovation marvel with nearly the highest per capita GDP in the world, the other is a police state that goes through regular famine.

Cuba before Castro and afterward

Venezuela prior to Hugo Chavez’s socialism and afterward

East Germany vs. West Germany

Poland under Soviet/Socialist rule and afterward

China before its openness to market reforms and after

source: China Lifts 85 Million People from Extreme Poverty in 6 Years

What happened which changed this? China moved from full Socialism to the embrace of markets and some forms of private ownership, which China called “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. Listen: The Secret Document That Transformed China (NPR).

Romania

Roxana’s family fled one of the most hated regimes of the 20th century. If you’re interested in learning more about the Ceausescu’s regime of terror in Romania, here’s a 45 minute documentary from the History Channel:

Nikolae Ceausescu was one of the most hated people in history.

Learning from History

We will never have pure “controlled experiments” in the way we organize ourselves as a society, but these are about as close as we will ever get.

In every single one of the “semi-controlled experiments” we have, freedom and free enterprise has resulted in much greater prosperity, much lower poverty and more overall happiness. The record is 100% for the benefits of freedom, free enterprise and well-regulated capitalism, and 0% for nation-state Socialism.

And yet, young Americans continue to find “Socialism” favorable. THAT is the most mind-blowing thing to me about Communism — its allure to some, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


Redistribution For Thee, Not For Me

The most mind-blowing thing about Communism and “from each according to his abilities, to each according to their needs” is its continued romantic appeal, which generally lasts until people are are confronted with the idea of fully redistributing that which they feel they’ve worked hard to earn:


Recommended Books

The Staggering Costs of Sanders, Warren Federal Plans

The costs of the Sanders and Warren Plans are staggering. Sanders and Warren Would Each More than Double the Size of the Federal Government.

Sanders and Warren Would Each More than Double the Size of the Federal Government

It’s January, and Election Season is in full swing. There are many remarkable aspects to the 2020 Presidential Race. Lost in the shuffle of impeachment news, the DNC nominating horserace and the latest juvenile presidential tweets, is the sheer size and scope of the expansive spending proposals of both Senators Sanders and Warren.

When you lay it all out in total, it’s breathtaking. The American voting public deserves to know more about its scale, and I don’t think very many do have a sense of the scale that’s being proposed.

How well do you know the scale?

Try this quick quiz (no Googling just yet!):

  1. What is the approximate amount of money the United States spends on the military per year? It’s a large sum, right? What percentage do you think it represents of overall federal spending? If we zeroed out all that spending and redirected it toward the Sanders or Warren proposals, how many times over do you think it might pay for the things they’re promising? How much would be left over if we just zeroed out everything we spend on the military?
  2. The population of the United States is about 325 million. Roughly how many people work for the federal government today? If the Warren or Sanders plans were enacted, roughly how many people would have their paychecks dependent upon the government? Have you thought much about the fact that these employees and agencies and regulations and policies, once shifted to federal control, will be subject to the whims of any future administration which follows? Are Washington DC resource allocators and decisionmakers widely popular? In your experience, have they generally done a better job allocating resources than more local control?
  3. When you add up all federal spending in a given year, approximately what percentage is it of our Gross Domestic Product? How might the percentage change with the Sanders or Warren plans?

OK, let’s dive in.

Each candidate has published plans which would more than double the size of the US Federal Government as measured by spending. Each would eliminate the private health insurance industry, an industry that employs about a million Americans. Each have pledged to ban fracking, a technology which has contributed enormously to United States GDP growth over the past decade and turned us into a net exporter of fossil fuels, greatly improving our strategic position vis-a-vis oil rich nations.

The US federal government employs about 4 million Americans today, if you include military and civilians.

Other than a significant, understandable blip during WWII, the US federal spending has been remarkably consistent at around 16% to 20% of GDP:

source: Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables

Yet in out years, each of the Warren and Sanders plans would consume a conservative 50-70% of the United States’ annual GDP. That’s not just WWII-level federal influence in the economy — that’s roughly twice the level of federal influence in the overall economy that we had during World War II.

For reference, US GDP came in around $19 trillion in 2017. And a very good argument can be mustered with little effort that the enormous tax burden each candidate would like to introduce on everything from financial transactions to owned property (wealth) would cause capital flight, reduce innovation and investment, putting a big drain on the collective economic output of this nation.

Sanders’ Plans

  1. Medicare for All Plan: $30-40 trillion over a 10 year period
  2. Green New Deal Climate Plan: $16.3 trillion
  3. Guarantee to all Americans a full-time job paying $15/hr and full benefits: $30.1 trillion
  4. Forgive all student loans and guarantee public-college tuition: $3 trillion
  5. Expand Social Security: $1.8 trillion
  6. Publicly financed housing: $1.6 trillion
  7. Family leave: $1 trillion
  8. Infrastructure: $1 trillion
  9. K-12 Education: $800 billion
  10. Public school teach salary boost: $400 billion

The 10-Year Total: $97 trillion, or about $9.7 trillion per year in additional federal spending in 2021 terms.

The entire US military budget in 2019 was about $989 billion (per year.) You could zero out all US military spending and it would only pay for about 10% of Bernie Sanders’ proposed spending.

Senator Sanders’ plans would roughly triple US federal government spending

Warren’s Plans

  1. Medicare for All: $3.4 trillion per year
  2. Expand Social Security: $150 billion per year
  3. Clean Energy: $100 billion per year
  4. Green Manufacturing: $200 billion per year
  5. Education Reform, Universal Childcare: $145 billion per year
  6. Affordable Housing: $50 billion per year
  7. Student Debt Cancellation: $125 billion per year

The ten year total: Approximately $50 trillion over 10 years, inflation adjusted, or about $4.2 trillion per year additional spending in 2021 terms.

Senator Warren’s plan would more than double US federal government spending

How Does It Compare To Current Spending?

If you head on over to the Office of Management and Budget, you can download Federal Outlays and Receipts.

Charting it, with the axis on the vertical in $billions, you can see that US federal outlays exceed our revenue, and spending is around $4.3 trillion per year. You can also see that we had a nice period during the Clinton Administration (and Gingrich Congress) where we had surpluses — we spent less than we brought in. Since about 2008, federal revenues have been increasing, but started to slow down their rate of growth around 2016, when the corporate tax rate was slashed.

In the hypothetical case where Warren and Sanders each had their plans approved, the charts would look approximately like this:

Bernie Sanders Spending Impact

I am deliberately not forecasting the blue line, revenue, because it’s very questionable what would happen to that line. In theory, with tax hikes on everything from financial transactions to middle class wage-earners (to help pay for his Medicare for All plan), tax revenues would grow substantially.

But it’s also hard to model what would happen to GDP; it’s very plausible that GDP would have a significant drag on it with the disruption to industries, elimination of fracking, elimination of the private health insurance industry, taxing many financial transactions and more. Not only are wealth taxes clearly unconstitutional, in European nations where they’ve been enacted, they’ve often been repealed or scaled back dramatically, because they have led to capital and headquarters flight.

Sanders’ startling 10-year $97+ trillion spending plans are comprised mostly of Medicare for All, Green New Deal spending and a proposal to guarantee all Americans a full time job (presumably paid for by government mandate, if necessary) paying minimum wage. It is remarkable that, while he’s also planning to forgive all student loans(!) and make every public university tuition free, that these sums are so “small”, relatively speaking, as to not even make it into his Top 3 Most Expensive Ideas.

Elizabeth Warren Spending Impact

The biggest chunk of Warren’s spending is her Medicare for All plan, the single-payer healthcare plan which she’s like to see enacted. Her plan to pay for it includes wealth taxes, and also “recapture” of the fees that corporations pay to subsidize health plans for employees. Do unions yet fully understand that what Warren is proposing is to eliminate their “Cadillac” healthcare plans, essentially telling their employers to send that money instead to Washington DC to allocate to healthcare providers?

Other issues for both Senators Warren and Sanders are the clear unconstitutionality of their Wealth Tax plan.

Deficit as Percentage of GDP

Here’s a chart of the Deficit as a Percentage of GDP. Source is from the Office of Management and Budget website, historical tables.

Chart by Visualizer

The average is 3.1%. Standard deviation (excluding unusual WWII period) is about 2.5%, which means that about 69% of the time, Deficit as a % of GDP falls within the range of 0.6% surplus and 5.6%, and this is (still) one of those times. But agree very much that this is the time to “save” for a rainy day.

What if we confiscate the wealth of the top 1% of households?

Sanders often cites the huge disparities in wealth between the richest 1% of Americans and all other households. And it’s true, the total wealth of the top 1% of American households is approximately $29 trillion.

That’s a huge sum.

But let’s go a step further here: where is most of that wealth? It’s not in stacks of cash, nor is it a bank account anywhere. The vast majority of that wealth is in shares of publicly traded (and some private) companies that founders and founding families own. But most founders don’t own 100% of their companies. In fact at this writing, even Jeff Bezos “only” owns about 4% of Amazon.com.

So who are the other 96% of the shareholders of Amazon? The other owners of these shares and other stocks are, either directly or indirectly, the 55% of American households that own stocks, which includes working families, teachers pensions, corporate 401(k)’s, union and municipal retirement funds, and global investors who think America’s a decent place to invest.

So let’s imagine we got past the clear unconstitutionality of a wealth tax, and, just to get a sense of the scale here, confiscated not just some, but 100% of the wealth of America’s richest households.

First, to get it, the stocks would need to be sold en masse.

And thus, you have to look at the devastating impact this action would have on the securities they hold. For instance, imagine Jeff Bezos being forced to sell all his Amazon shares. What’s that going to do to Amazon stock? Down by 20, 30, 40, 50%? The drop comes both from far more sellers than buyers, and the market’s conclusion that Bezos has “less of an interest” in Amazon.

Let’s continue with this thought experiment, and generously posit an unrealistic guess that this would only result in a 30% drop in the equity value as $29 trillion in starting market value is being liquidated.

You’re left with 70% of $29 trillion, or about $20 trillion (generous estimate) going to the federal government to serve central resource allocation. Confiscating 100% of the richest American’s owned wealth, in other words, even assuming it were constitutional, is not even enough to pay for three years of Sanders’ economic agenda. After those three years are up, funds to support it don’t appear by magic. All the wealth of the top 1% has been confiscated. What happens then? We turn to the 90-99%. But that’s only enough for another few months. Then the 70-90%. Then the 50-70%… and everyone.

Further, all this assumes, very incorrectly, that there wouldn’t be major negative impacts on GDP. To see this, simply ask yourself what happens to capital formation and investment to build new companies and jobs in such a world, where property is subject to seizure. Would there be capital flight?

Further, to get less than three years of the Sanders agenda, every American who holds stocks (55% of American households) receives a major haircut on their holdings, whether they be in 401(k)’s or retirement plans.

Historic Trends in Federal Spending Per Capita

What the federal government spends, per-capita, has been growing well beyond inflation since about 1952. The grey line below is an inflation-adjusted chart of federal spending per capita. (This particular chart ends with 2011 data; I’ll be pulling together more recent data shortly, but the trend and order of magnitude should be clear.)

A fully-enacted Sanders agenda would add another $29,000 to this chart (i.e., triple the per-capita levels of federal spending today.) A fully-enacted Warren agenda would roughly double the federal per-capita spending shown in this chart.

See the source image

Source: Office of Management and Budget Historical Tables, Consumer Price Index

How Well Does Sanders Know The Cost of His Plans?

“I can’t rattle off to you every nickel and every dime.”

Conclusion

Sanders and Warren’s federal spending agenda is strikingly large. These plans are not just incremental changes in how we envision the relationship of the federal government to our economy, it would be a truly staggering change.

While I personally don’t support this ratcheting up of federal spending and control, I am still a fan of the representative democracy we have. So if this is what we as a society truly want and vote for, so be it.

But here’s the thing. We should know what we’re voting for. Do you really? Did any of the information above surprise you?

Based on anecdotal polling of even the most intelligent, well-read friends and relatives I’ve asked, I think too little understanding actually exists in most voters’ minds about the scale of what is actually being proposed, and what it might mean for the change in federal control over our economy, impacts on GDP, hard-fought union “platinum” healthcare plans, entire industries which employ millions, the equity values for the 54% of American households that own stocks, a staggering level of debt we would pass along to future generations, and more.

Next time you meet a fellow voter, you might want to ask them to imagine zeroing out all the dollars we spend on the US military — every bomb, aircraft carrier and soldier salary, then ask them how much of a Sanders agenda it might pay for, and how much might be left over. You’ll probably be surprised at the answer; I’d be surprised if most Americans get the right answer within even a multiple of 10x.

References

[1] “The Unaffordable Candidate“, October 15, 2019, City Journal

[2] “The Staggering Cost of Elizabeth Warren’s Plans: $4.2 trillion per year“, October 24, 2019, Yahoo Finance

[3] “Plans“, Elizabeth Warren Campaign Website

[4] “Issues“, Bernie Sanders Campaign Website

[5] “The cost of Sanders’ agenda would set a peacetime US record“, CNN, January 14, 2020

[6] “Medicare for All Would Cost $32.6 Trillion Over 10 Years, Study Says“, Bloomberg July 29, 2018

[7] “New analysis finds Sanders’s plans would add $19 trillion to debt,” The Hill, May 2016

[8] “The High Cost of Warren and Sanders’ Single Payer Plans“, The Atlantic Magazine, October 2019

No, Denmark is not a Socialist Country.

When socialists say they want to “abolish capitalism,” they are not saying they want to become more like Denmark or Germany, but they’d love for you to think that.

Socialism is where the government owns or substantially controls the means of production and distribution of goods. (Cambridge Dictionary, Merriam-Webster)

Nations like France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada… are capitalist nations. They are market economies, not centrally planned and controlled economies. Please correct your friends when you hear them say they are socialist nations, because no, they are not. Their economies are not socialist. 

The vast majority of the largest producers in those nations are multinational corporations owned by private shareholders, and the profit motive is very much at work. They have names like Deutsche Bank, Bayer Ag, IKEA, Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, Siemens, BASF, Lufthansa and more.

Related image
The Børsen (Danish for “Exchange”), also known as Børsbygningen (“The Stock Exchange” in English), is a 17th-century stock exchange in the center of Copenhagen. Denmark has long been a market-based economy, where private shareholders can buy and sell stocks.

These nations — Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Canada… have a stronger welfare-state philosophy than we here in the US — and I mean this is in an economic-definition sense, not a pejorative one. Welfare-state capitalist nations have generally much higher overall taxation, a higher percentage of government employment, and higher redistribution in the form of government-administered social programs and benefits.

But they are still fundamentally capitalist — not socialist — nations. Their economic engine of goods production and distribution is NOT state-owned — it is privately owned businesses with a profit motive. Further, they do not as a rule explicitly outlaw the ownership of private property, nor businesses that produce or distribute goods.

Socialist nations today include Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and, to a mixed extent, China and Russia.

Generally speaking, truly socialist nation-states have not been awesome for their people in world history on most measures — not for liberty, innovation, property ownership, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to travel, poverty, gay rights, civil rights, the environment, broader human rights, nor I would argue, the pursuit of happiness.

When socialists say they want to “abolish capitalism,” they are not saying they want to become more like Denmark or Germany, but they’d love for you to think that.

There are many sound improvements to capitalism that we can and should debate, plan and implement (and in some cases have implemented), but “abolishing capitalism” isn’t a good place to start.

—–

You don’t have to take my word for it. How about that of the Danish Prime Minister?

“The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security for its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.” — Danish Prime Minister, November 2015

“Green New Deal”: Math Check

Raising the marginal rate on $10 million or more in income to 70% might optimistically help “pay for” a boost of about 1.6% to overall federal spending.

The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein estimates that raising the marginal tax rate to between 60 and 70 percent on incomes above $10 million might raise as much as $720 billion dollars over a decade, or $72 billion per year. There are some 16,000 households that meet that criteria — fewer than 0.05% of all US households. Collectively, their taxable income was about $405 billion in 2016, on which they paid $121 billion in taxes.

Current overall federal spending: $4.47 trillion per year. So raising this marginal rate might help “pay for” a boost of about 1.6% to overall federal spending.

Stein adds, “The real number [of projected new revenue from such a marginal tax hike] is probably smaller than that, because wealthy Americans would probably find ways around paying this much-higher tax.”

One chart that should be of interest — inflation-adjusted per-capita federal spending. It looks like this:

I’m all for discussing policy ideas and investments, but it’d be great to start with numbers that foot.

A migration from a 17% renewables economy to a 100% renewals economy, with Medicare for All and “free” education requires much higher taxes on all brackets. (One study by George Mason University has estimated the cost for Medicare for All to be at $32.6 trillion, about 452x the incremental revenue the marginal tax optimistically would raise.) And, for what it’s worth, science that at least for now, we don’t currently have.