Bernie The Socialist Embraces Uber Capitalism

by | Nov 8, 2015

People who do not like capitalism, private property and profits in principle often seem to like and embrace its results, in practice.

Socialist/Democratic candidate for president, Bernie Sanders, does not like the maverick, hugely successful private taxicab service, Uber. He says it’s too “unregulated.” For that reason, he has “serious problems” with Uber.

Stop and think. What does it mean to say you hate something because it’s “unregulated”? On the surface, most people unthinkingly assume, “Regulation is good. Regulation is necessary. The more regulation, the better.”

Yet the people choosing to pay for Uber are already regulating and controlling it. They are the ones deciding, for themselves, what they are willing to pay for a particular kind of service. And so long as Uber delivers on its contractual obligation and promise to give them what they pay for, everything is fine.

Yet it’s not fine, according to Bernie Sanders, or just about any other politician (either party) on most issues (not just Uber, but all of education, all of health care, all of most things now). It’s the fact that THEY are not controlling and regulating the whole thing that makes them crazy.

In a therapy room, a psychology seminar, a family unit or a self-help book we’d call this neurosis, psychopathology, or mental/behavioral dysfunction. In the context of people we elect to run our lives (not just Sanders, but any politician), we take it as a matter of course; or even consider it a good and normal, necessary thing.


Sanders’ position is no surprise. He is, after all, a self-described socialist. However, it might interest people to know that according to research done by National Journal, 100 percent of Sanders’ spending on taxi and ride-sharing services was spent on Uber.

I realize that Bernie Sanders will almost certainly not defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and will almost certainly never be President.

However, it’s a revealing contradiction not unique to Sanders.

It seems that people who do not like capitalism, private property and profits in principle often seem to like and embrace its results, in practice.

What else are we to assume?

This speaks to the deeper contradiction within socialism, including the watered down variety offered by most Democrats and most Republicans.

We see this kind of contradiction everywhere.

Environmentalists, for example, are known for denouncing fossil fuels. They oppose anything related to fossil fuels whenever they have a chance. They morally condemn mankind for “despoiling” the planet, as if the planet existed for its own sake, and as if the planet’s usefulness to humankind was of no relevance whatsoever.

Yet these very same environmentalists fly in airplanes, pump gasoline into their cars, thrive on electricity, Internet connection, cable technology, and utilize all of the benefits of a society almost completely run on fossil fuels.

You would think that people against the benefits of capitalism, technology and civilization in principle would be revolted and disgusted by doing such things themselves. Yet they’re often the ones who benefit from the things they claim to hate the most.

It’s really a lot like religious zealotry in other contexts. For example, think of the people who oppose homosexuality, sex outside of traditional marriage, or birth control, including abortion.

Whether you agree with their views or not, what would you think if these anti-abortion advocates practiced abortion, openly and without any recognition that there’s any hypocrisy or inconsistency involved?

Of course, that would never happen. If an anti-gay marriage or anti-gay candidate for office turned out to be involved in gay relationships, then it would properly be a news item, if not a scandal. It would properly be labeled outrageous hypocrisy, and condemned as such. Back in the late 1980s, when Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts and other televangelists demonstrated how little they practiced the sexual conservatism they preached, they were rightfully discredited.

Yet when those who denounce any aspect of business – or even all of capitalism itself, as Bernie Sanders does – it’s not of any relevance when they blatantly practice just the opposite.

The only kind of defense I ever hear from apologists for these anti-capitalist hypocrites is something along the lines of, “Well, what are they supposed to do?” The implication seems to be that we’re all forced into participating in a society run by private property, money, fossil fuels, and all those things anti-capitalists and socialists seem to hate.

It’s kind of a conspiratorial paranoia. “Big business is making me do things against my nature and my values; we’re all victims,” seems to be the underlying attitude.

While I appreciate such emotions (to a point) when we’re talking about big business getting subsidies or pull from the government, there’s no such thing as a fully private business doing anything to force people to do anything.

Government is the one with the force and pull; not business, and certainly not business in a totally free market, the thing that politicians like Sanders oppose most of all.

Do you hate life as we know it? Then make different choices. Everyone is free to go off the grid. Live in a hut. Ride a bicycle and refuse to own a car. Make your own clothes. Don’t use running water or electricity. Eliminate your carbon footprint, and let us know (although not by text, social media or email) how well that works out for you. Live like it’s 1850, or the Middle Ages. There’s no law preventing you from doing any of these things.

Or, at a minimum, if you feel that people keep too much of their money, then give most or all of yours away. Bernie Sanders is not doing that, to my knowledge. Nor is his more popular competitor, Hillary Clinton. She’s a millionaire, and undoubtedly keeps way more of her money than she claims is morally permissible, based on what she thinks tax rates should be. Nobody will ever challenge her on this, but it’s true all the same.

At a bare minimum, Bernie Sanders could at least NOT ride Uber, or minimize his use of it. Why doesn’t he?

Even if this news story turned out to be false, and Bernie Sanders does not ride Uber as much as we think, all of my points here still apply.

The deeper, more significant issue here is that you cannot and should not hate the thing you depend upon to survive.

People like me (advocates of total individual rights, total separation of economy and state) loathe, detest and despise ideas like those of Bernie Sanders. And if those ideas disappeared from human influence tomorrow, none of us would perish. In fact, a whole lot would be much better.

Yet if the ideas and things that people like Bernie Sanders loathe and despise — capitalism, free markets, money, private property — completely disappeared tomorrow, they would be in the same bad shape as the rest of us, because millions of people would die and the rest would live in drastically rolled back comfort and civility.

Two contradictory things cannot be true in the same way, and at the same time. If Aristotle figured this out 2,300 years ago, certainly the majority of us can grasp this fact by now.

If capitalism is so bad, then it should be easy to set an example and stop benefiting from its developments.

If Bernie Sanders cannot or will not do it, then what does that tell you?

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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