Bernie Sanders: Yeah, I'm a millionaire. What about it?

Hard to top Dan Foster’s take on the mystery of Donald Trump’s — and Bernie Sanders’s — tax returns.

Bernie confirmed it today: He’s too rich.

Something must be done.

“April 15 is coming,” Mr. Sanders, whose refusal to release his full past returns has become an issue in the campaign, said in an interview in his office. “We wanted to release 10 years of tax returns. April 15, 2019, will be the 10th year, so I think you will see them.”…

“Not being a billionaire, not having investments in Saudi Arabia, wherever he has investments, all over the world, mine will be a little bit more boring,” Mr. Sanders said.

Reminded that he is a millionaire, he did not shirk from the description.

“I wrote a best-selling book,” he declared. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

That quote is reminiscent of the answer another socialist, Michael Moore, gave years ago when asked about his personal wealth. “I’m a millionaire, I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m filthy rich. You know why I’m a multi-millionaire?” Moore asked. “‘Cause multi-millions like what I do.” Which is … not the conversation-ender he seemed to think it was. Jeff Bezos could say the same thing. So could Mark Zuckerberg, except the number of people who like what he does is at least a billion. What strange belief about the morality of amassing wealth holds that it’s okay to pile it up if it’s provided by a sufficiently sizable fan base?

If you want to take the view that inherited wealth is bad whereas earned wealth is okay, fair enough. But what about the 88 percent of millionaires who didn’t inherit it?

And needless to say, the fact that Sanders and Moore were able to monetize their politics didn’t require them to keep the money. The point of democratic socialism, I thought, was to confiscate wealth being hoarded by the upper classes and put it to higher use by improving the lives of the poor. Sanders and Moore could better some lives right now with their nest eggs, whether through charity or donation to some government’s treasury. There’s no reason why they should wait until Congress passes an across-the-board tax hike on the rich forcing them to disgorge, which for all we know might still be decades or centuries away. It reeks of excuse-making. If you want to show the upper class that they can live just fine on modest wealth, actually show them.

But none of this will be demanded of Bernie. His progressive cred, particularly on economics, is unshakeable. Him amassing wealth is like Trump amassing porn-star mistresses: Their respective bases should be grossed out by how brazenly they’ve flouted values they claim to champion, but since each man continues to advance those values in a formidable way in the public sphere, hypocrisy in the private sphere is permitted. Somehow we’ll have to live with the reality of top socialists enriching themselves and social-conservative warriors engaging in lechery, two things that have never happened in history.

Exit quotation via Conor Friedersdorf: “Capitalism: where even the socialists have an opportunity to get rich by making something that lots of people value.”