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Opinion
Karl W. Smith

Wealth Isn't the Problem

Scandinavia, one of Bernie Sanders’s favorite places, treats the 1% pretty well.

Are Scandinavian billionaires OK?

Are Scandinavian billionaires OK?

Photographer: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP

Bernie Sanders can’t decide what socialism is. At times he frames it as nothing more than New Deal-style capitalism, not so different from the Scandinavian economies of Norway, Sweden or Denmark. Other times he defines it in the language of class struggle, vowing to smash “the oligarchy” and “restore power to the many, not the few.”

In a speech last week at George Washington University, Sanders attempted to merge the two definitions: He aimed to finish the New Deal, he said, precisely because a failure to do so would threaten an oligarchic takeover of the U.S. He criticized the expansion of the power of the 1%, America’s richest self-made man and the wealthiest American dynasty. Only by defeating these moneyed interests, he said, can Americans gain access to the economic rights so vital to the survival of their political rights.