It’s OK to be Angry About Capitalism (2023) is a critique of the economic and political system in the US. It offers a blueprint on how to move past unbridled capitalism onto a fairer and freer future.
Table of Contents
Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. He advocates for policies such as universal health care, taxing the rich to a higher degree, and supporting workers’ rights. Throughout his presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020, opponents dismissed his views. They claimed his policies weren’t in line with the American value of freedom.
Democratic socialists disagree with such a statement. They argue that for the majority of Americans today, their freedom is effectively limited. If you have to work three jobs just to pay your rent and you can’t afford a doctor when you’re sick, you’re heavily constrained in your life choices.
In this summary, which represents Bernie Sanders’s point of view, we’ll explore this idea in more detail. But first, let’s talk about presidential campaigns.
What Went Right, What Went Wrong
For both his presidential campaigns, Sanders ran on a platform of social democratic ideas such as free health care, making billionaires pay taxes, and protecting the climate. Surprisingly, in the 2016 Democratic primary, Sanders won 22 states. He was more popular with young Black and Latinx voters than any other candidate. He did this without relying on money from billionaires. Instead, his campaign was fueled by millions of small donations.
In the end, Hillary Clinton took the nomination and eventually lost to Donald Trump. But it’s hard to call Sanders’s campaign a failure. He and his team organized a big, diverse, progressive grassroots movement. They did so by holding local rallies, knocking on doors, and using social media.
When Sanders ran again in 2020, his team was able to build on this momentum. He won the first three Democratic states. But while the people seemed to want Sanders, the Democratic establishment didn’t. They rallied behind Democratic moderate Joe Biden. Other moderate candidates abruptly backed out of the race to secure more votes for Biden. Meanwhile, senator Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race despite poor results, dividing the progressive votes between her and Sanders. In this way, the Democratic establishment helped Biden win key states on Super Tuesday. Eventually, Sanders had to make the tough decision to suspend his campaign.
But while the campaign ended, the movement didn’t. To more and more people, his ideas – which had previously been dismissed as too radical in the media – now seemed necessary to build a fair America.
Why Democrats Need to Do Better
After he suspended his campaign in 2020, Sanders endorsed Biden. He used his grassroots network to canvas for him and significantly shaped his progressive platform. His main goal was simple: get rid of Trump.
They succeeded. Biden won the 2020 election. But it was hardly a victory for Sanders because he knew that the Democrats had no real intention of sticking to the progressive promises made on the campaign trail.
In the years since, Democrats have made little effort to help working-class people, especially during the COVID pandemic. It was Sanders who pushed through the American Rescue Plan of 2021, a comprehensive plan to help out average Americans affected by the crisis. It was hugely popular.
But that was a rare win amidst many failed attempts. Time and time again, he’s put bills on the Senate floor that would help working-class people. He proposed a $15 minimum wage bill. He proposed a bill to make billionaires pay their fair share of taxes. He also helped write the Build Back Better Act, which would have expanded Medicare, improved the childcare system, and addressed the housing crisis.
Every single time, his efforts were thwarted. The Build Back Better Act was eventually passed, but with a slashed budget and a decimated agenda. The problem was never a lack of public support for these progressive ideas. It was also not the expected Republican pushback. The problem was fellow Democrats purposely blocking him.
Once upon a time, the Democrats were the party of the working class. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, for instance, was a huge win for workers’ rights, social security, and public works projects. But over the last few decades, the Democrats have started taking more and more corporate and billionaire money. They’ve abandoned the working class and turned into the party of the better-off.
As a result, the working class now votes Republican – a party that supports tax breaks for the rich, wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and rejects the idea of a minimum wage.
Putting People over Billionaires
During the pandemic, America’s 725 billionaires increased their wealth by 73 percent. Meanwhile, millions of average Americans struggled to survive. Health-care workers put their life on the line to take care of the sick. And tens of thousands of people actually died because they were forced to go to work despite the risk of infection.
This is just the latest example of the injustice unfettered capitalism produces. Politics has failed to put guide rails on the greed of billionaires and big corporations. As a result, the US now has more wealth and income inequality than ever. Right now, the top 1 percent of society owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.
Out of those average Americans, more than 60 percent live paycheck to paycheck. Eighty-five million are uninsured or underinsured. And if you adjust for inflation, the average worker is now making $44 less per week than 50 years ago – despite a huge increase in productivity. Meanwhile, the überrich use their wealth to meddle in politics and media, all while not paying a single cent in taxes. In fact, they often collect millions of dollars in tax rebates from the government.
Sanders believes that a system that allows a handful of people to grow richer while many struggle to feed themselves isn’t a good system. He wants to tax the rich, but he also wants to ensure that people have access to decent jobs, health care, education, food, and shelter.
It’s not a new idea. Think of what Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security.”
Getting Greed out of the Health Care System
Health care in the US is expensive, inaccessible, and overly bureaucratic. That’s because the US health-care system is designed to make money. In 2021, it made a record $100 billion profit.
Meanwhile, the infant and maternal death rates in the US rival those of the developing world, especially for minorities. Forty-four percent of Americans struggle to pay for their health insurance. Twenty-nine percent say they couldn’t afford appropriate medical care if they needed it right now.
The working class is growing sicker. For the first time in decades, US life expectancy is declining. In 2019, the average life expectancy was 78.86 years. In 2021, it was down to 76.6 years. Experts now speak of numerous “Diseases of Despair” that are linked to the stress of poverty. They include heart disease, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, and even suicide.
Under the current system, many Americans can’t get the help they need. The health-care benefits provided by employers such as Walmart or Starbucks are virtually useless in a medical emergency. And the price-fixing by pharmaceutical companies means that some people are having to ration life-saving medication like insulin.
But the biggest joke is that the US spends 20 percent of its GDP on this broken system. This is much more than most countries with free healthcare. That’s right: a free health-care system could cost less than the current system. Sanders believes that his five-year plan for phasing in free Medicare for all would save $650 billion a year in bureaucratic overhead.
This approach could save money. But more importantly, it could save lives.
Empowering Citizens to Think for Themselves
Ninety percent of US media today is owned by just eight big media conglomerates – companies like Comcast, Disney, and Netflix. These companies own big news channels like CNN but also smaller local TV and radio channels. In 2012, Jeff Bezos cut the middleman and bought the Washington Post – and with it, a lot of social influence.
It’s no surprise that many people today don’t trust the media. Trump harnessed this distrust when he started complaining about “fake news” during his presidential campaign. But the problem isn’t that journalists are lying.
The problem is that rich owners put pressure on the media to emphasize certain issues over others. The überrich don’t have any interest in covering the big questions, such as: Why are there billionaires? Why are workers earning less than ever? And who even owns the media?
Instead of discussing these issues, the media covers politics as if it were celebrity gossip – focusing on polls, gaffes, and personalities. If this is how politics is covered today, journalism is in crisis. And if journalism is in crisis, democracy will soon be too. People need to know what’s really going on, from diverse, competitive, and independent sources. This is why Sanders wants to increase public funding for local and national news. Countries like Germany and Norway are making this investment with great success.
But it’s also important to empower people to think for themselves. This starts with good education. Schools need to educate students on the big issues of our day and enable them to become active citizens. But they can only do so with adequate funding.
The key idea here is that just like healthcare, information and education should be free for all.
Bernie Sanders believes that It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism. To him, real politics starts with organizing at a local level: getting working-class candidates into city councils, school boards, and state legislative seats; standing with workers and unions; showing those Americans who feel hopeless and abandoned that change is possible.
Sanders believes that mass movement politics can overcome unfettered capitalism. His ideas include policies that would get money out of politics, make the voting process more democratic, revitalize the media, treat health care as a human right, support workers, make billionaires pay taxes, and protect the environment.
The book is a progressive critique of the current economic and political system in the United States, which the authors argue is dominated by a billionaire class that exploits and oppresses the majority of Americans. The book exposes the harmful effects of capitalism on various aspects of society, such as democracy, media, environment, health care, education, labor, and human rights. The book also proposes a radical alternative vision based on democratic socialism, which aims to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable society for all.
The book consists of nine chapters, each focusing on a different topic. The first chapter introduces the main thesis of the book: that capitalism is not only unjust but also unsustainable, and that it must be replaced by a system that prioritizes human needs over corporate profits. The second chapter analyzes the role of money in politics, and how the billionaire class uses its wealth and influence to rig the system in its favor and undermine democracy. The third chapter examines the state of the media in the US, and how it is controlled by a few corporations that serve the interests of the oligarchs and ignore or distort the issues that affect the majority of Americans. The fourth chapter discusses the climate crisis, and how capitalism is driving the destruction of the planet and endangering the future of humanity. The fifth chapter explores the health care system in the US, and how it is designed to benefit the insurance and pharmaceutical industries at the expense of millions of people who lack access to quality and affordable care. The sixth chapter reviews the education system in the US, and how it is failing to provide equal opportunities for all students and prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century. The seventh chapter evaluates the labor situation in the US, and how workers are exploited, underpaid, overworked, and denied their rights by employers who seek to maximize their profits. The eighth chapter assesses the human rights situation in the US, and how millions of people are discriminated against, marginalized, criminalized, and oppressed based on their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or immigration status. The ninth chapter concludes with a call to action, and outlines a series of policies and reforms that would transform the US into a more democratic socialist society.
The book is an inspiring and compelling read that offers a clear and convincing argument against capitalism and for democratic socialism. The book is written in a passionate and accessible style that appeals to both experts and laypeople. The book is based on solid research and evidence, as well as personal anecdotes and experiences from both authors. The book is also supported by facts, statistics, charts, graphs, photos, documents, and testimonials.
The book’s strength lies in its comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing the various problems that plague American society. The book does not shy away from exposing the failures and flaws of capitalism and its proponents. It also does not sugarcoat or simplify the challenges and complexities of implementing democratic socialism. It shows both the urgency and feasibility of creating a radical change in the status quo.
The book also offers hope and optimism by highlighting the examples and achievements of democratic socialist movements and leaders around the world. It shows how ordinary people can organize and mobilize to demand and create a better society for themselves and others. It shows how democratic socialism is not only a moral imperative but also a practical necessity.
It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism is a book that deserves to be read by anyone who cares about social justice, equality, and democracy. It is a book that challenges the reader to think critically about their own views and actions regarding economic issues. It is a book that reminds the reader of the power and potential of collective action.