Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President, Part 1

"Bernie Gives the Poor in the United States a Voice Again."
In red it says, "Socialist Catches up to Hillary in Polls."
(The Dutch love Bernie!)

Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
By George Oeser

America is a great country. Our history is far from perfect, but our people have a hopeful spirit, and we believe in our ability to accomplish things and move forward. We believe in entrepreneurship and innovation. We believe in taking risks and doing things differently. We celebrate the success of those who have achieved great things and believe that if our own list of successes is not that vast it is only because our time has not yet come. 

All of these things have led to America becoming what it is today—the wealthiest nation in the entire history of the world, a place where people have lifted themselves out of poverty to become titans of industry, and a place where we know that hard work combined with ambition and determination can make a real difference. We have freedoms and liberties undreamed of in some other countries, and we take great pride in who we are. This is why America is a great country, and it fills me with pride to be an American.
I am also filled with sadness to see all of this threatened by a government controlled by individuals who care less about what makes America great and more about what increases the size of their personal bank accounts. We are now in the midst of a presidential campaign, one that started off looking as though we would have no choice other than to elect someone who was a wealthy, well-connected member of a political dynasty, one who would continue the status quo and push us further down the path that has led us to our current position. 

Luckily for America this election has turned out to be much more interesting and lively than anyone could have expected. It looks like we may wind up having a real choice, a real chance to alter the path our nation is on. We might actually find that our votes don't have to be for just one side of the coin or the other. 

This is a great thing for America, if Americans put the effort into really learning about the issues we face and how the people running for president will respond to these issues. My own research into the issues and the possible solutions, along with which candidate stands for what, along with some additional information I have that many Americans don’t know, has led to select Bernie Sanders as the candidate who I think is best for America and her future.

Americans are faced with making a very important decision. We are being offered a real choice this time around and the outcome of this election will undoubtedly impact the future of our country in some very important ways. We will turn to the nightly news and our friends and coworkers to get their opinions. We can study the candidate's voting record or history in the business world. We can look for answers in the Bible or the Koran. We can listen to the speeches and late night talk show appearances the candidates make. All of these things can help each of us reach a decision on who to vote for, and I have been paying attention to all of them. 

I also have another set of information that I can rely on that isn't available to the average American, and I want to share this information with you so it can be included in your decision making. It might sway you or it may not, but what I have seen and experienced over the last couple of years makes me believe that it is very much worth considering, and that if we all included this information in our decision making process, it could be very beneficial for America.


The information I want to share comes from living outside of the United States for a couple of years. Specifically, I have been living in the Netherlands, a small country in Northern Europe wedged between Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea. The time I have spent here has allowed me to see, first hand, what happens when a country takes a different path than America: To see the results of certain policies and programs with my own eyes instead of just watching what one talking head or another with a particular agenda has to say on TV. I have been surprised by many of the things I have seen here, and my mind has changed on several issues. It has affected who I will be voting for. I hope you can find this information valuable to your own decision making process.

The Netherlands is a democracy with a very strong work ethic and capitalist background. In its colonial past, the Netherlands acquired new territory mainly through making business deals instead of through military force. Its cities and villages are filled with businesses run by large corporations as well as by individuals and families. Making money is considered a very worthwhile pursuit in the Netherlands. If a demand exists, a business will also exist to meet that demand. In many ways it is very similar to the United States, but there are some important differences as well.

In Holland, everyone has health insurance. It is not typically provided by the government but is instead provided through employers by private health insurance companies. The health care system is effective, efficient, and care is provided with less waiting time than it is in America. It isn't free, but costs are kept under control so that everyone can afford it, and everyone is required to be part of the health care system. 

The cities and villages around the Netherlands are all very well connected by a public transportation system that makes it easy and affordable to get from place to place, and it is well utilized by all sectors of society. This allows many people to have the option of not owning a car, saving them large amounts of money they would have spent on fuel, insurance, maintenance, taxes, and parking. Instead, they can put this money towards other things that they feel are more important.

Homelessness is very rare in the Netherlands, as the government will find places for you to live and make sure you have access to healthcare and food if you can't afford it any other way. Unlike the situation in America, if you are homeless in Holland it is much more likely to have been an actual choice on your part.

Crime rates, when compared to America are exceptionally low. Muggings and pick-pocketing exist, but shootings and other violent crimes are very rare. You feel safe when walking the streets at night in the vast majority of places.

As in much of Western Europe, there are more regulations imposed by the Dutch government than in the US. This doesn't mean that business are more highly regulated here than in America, though. There are numerous regulations handed down by the American government that businesses must follow, but on top of that, America is a country where lawsuits, sometimes frivolous and sometimes not, are exceptionally common. These lead to a secondary layer of self-imposed regulations that most businesses follow. The next time you see a warning label on a product remember that there is a very good chance that it wasn't placed there by the government. Instead it was placed there by a group of lawyers doing their best to try and protect the company from getting sued. This, from what I have seen, leads to businesses in America being much more highly regulated and restricted than they are in the Netherlands.

Wages in the Netherlands are higher than in America. This probably comes as no surprise, but they have also instituted a tiered minimum wage system. If you are 16 year old student the minimum wage for you is not as high as it is for a 25 year old. The 25 year old is much more likely not to be living with his or her parents, and might have a family to support and other additional expenses, so he or she needs to make more money to make sure they are a productive part of society. This allows young people to find jobs easier in entry level positions where few skills and little experience is needed while making sure that older, more experienced workers can make a real living wage. However, the 16 year old still makes more than minimum wage in America. 

The infrastructure in the Netherlands is amazing: not just the roads and public transportation systems, but also the electrical grid, internet speeds, telephone service, water and sewage, and airports. No one in the Netherlands lives very far from an international airport. Since the phone, internet, and electrical lines (except for high voltage transmission lines) are underground, storms rarely cause outages. Internet speeds that would be too expensive for most to afford in America are commonplace and cheap. All of this exists because the government is involved. In my hometown of Nashville, I had very little choice in what business I could obtain high speed internet service from. In Holland, since the lines are controlled by the government but open for many companies to utilize, I have a wide variety of companies to choose from, and the competition keeps the costs down to very affordable levels.

I could go on and on, but this should give you an idea of how the government makes life better for people in the Netherlands. At the same time, the Netherlands is a place where you are free to practice your religion
or not. To say what you think or keep your mouth shut if you choose. To own a gun, provided you are willing to meet the requirements for owning a gun. It is a very free country—possibly more free than America in many ways because the elected officials in the government aren't allowed to be bought and sold by billionaires. This means that officials respond to the wants and desires of the majority of the people they represent instead of only representing a tiny minority of the people. The Netherlands is far from a perfect place, but I think there are many things America could learn from it. 

What else can America learn from the Netherlands? You’ll find out in Part 2 next week on The Bernie Blog.

Bio: George Oeser is a photographer, born and raised in Tennessee but currently living in the Netherlands. He spends much of his time thinking about how much he misses good Southern food.


  1. This is the crux of the matter: "It is a very free country—possibly more free than America in many ways because the elected officials in the government aren't allowed to be bought and sold by billionaires. This means that officials respond to the wants and desires of the majority of the people they represent instead of only representing a tiny minority of the people. " Only by electing responsible politicians like Bernie Sanders will we the public get the services and society we all need. #FeeltheBern #BernieSanders2016

  2. Thanks, George, for your wonderful insights. I think Mark Twain said it best: "Travel broadens the mind and is the cure to many prejudices." If more Americans would do some research, reach out and learn more about what life is like in countries with democratic socialist principles in place, I'm certain they'd come to believe the same way as Bernie Sanders and you and I do. Looking forward to next week's piece and learning more about what the Dutch can teach us. #FeeltheBern


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