Bernie Sanders has ticked off the happiest place on earth. Campaigning in California on Tuesday, the Vermont senator and insurgent presidential candidate attacked Disney for not paying its employees at its Anaheim theme parks a living wage. Sanders called this an example of the “rigged economy.”
One characteristic of the economy these days is that it can seem rigged. Another characteristic is its total lack of meaningful contributions from Bernie Sanders. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, drove this point home in a scathing Facebook post that was spotted by the Daily Caller:
“To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade, and our company has created 18,000 in the U.S. in the last five years,” Iger wrote in a Facebook post. “How many jobs have you created? What have you contributed to the U.S. economy?”
The answer, of course, is nothing, outside of employing a handful of political and campaign staffers at taxpayer and donor expense. That hardly makes Sanders unique among progressive politicians, many of whom jumped into activism jobs straight after college and then segued into public service, all the while criticizing the very private sector that they themselves never participated in.
Demonstrating a nugatory reserve of economic knowledge, blathering about profit margins versus living wages, these professional activists pile on the regulations and the minimum wage hikes, pricing workers out of their jobs and springing self-order kiosks up at fast food restaurants across the nation. It’s been fun watching them create mischief for Hillary Clinton, but their ignorance is dangerous and people have suffered as a result.
It reminds me of a piece Kevin Williamson wrote at National Review two years ago, when Senator Rand Paul was spending his summer vacation in Guatemala performing eye surgeries for the poor:
Given the political class’s endless appetite for self-serving theater, I found myself wondering why President Obama, Mrs. Clinton, or Vice President Biden did not choose to spend their vacations in a similar way, offering to put their skills and abilities to use on behalf of others. And then I realized that this was a deeply stupid question on my part.
What the hell would they do?
Unlike Senator Paul, neither the president nor the vice president nor the former secretary of state has anything that one might describe as a useful skill. That’s not quite right: They have skills that are useful . . . to themselves. As for skills that are useful to other people — you’d be hard pressed to think of one.
Williamson’s refrain—what do they do?—is even more felicitous in the case of Sanders. At least Obama was once a constitutional lecturer and Hillary Clinton has leveraged her talent of creating worthless sinecures for cronies. Other than shout and gesture and stand on a overturned wheelbarrow, what, exactly, does Sanders do? Rand Paul restores sight to the blind. Bob Iger runs a corporation that gives 185,000 people paychecks, and millions more entertainment and reprieve. Kevin Williamson puts sentences together. And Sanders?
I write this as someone who sometimes finds Disney’s candy-striped, plastic-pastel, you’re-enjoying-this-aren’t-you theme parks to be mildly unsettling (probably because my New England mother was always dashing us off to Florida in the summer—I could recite all the dialogue to Splash Mountain from memory if I tried). I also write this as someone who doesn’t prostrate himself before every Hank Reardon, and also as someone who thinks Sanders occasionally makes a good point. But his criticism of Disney is unseemly, especially coming from a guy who was once kicked out of a hippie commune for being too lazy.
So maybe for the good of the economy Sanders himself should take a vacation? I hear Disneyland is lovely this time of year.