Great cartoon: Hillary hiding emails and Bernie holding a "Free Stuff" sign. Caption: I'm afraid of Hillary because I don't think she is telling the truth. I'm afraid of Bernie because I think he is.

The cartoon appears above a column on "the lure of socialism" by Thomas Sowell.

Mature voters may find themselves amazed, Sowell writes, that so many young people are enamored of socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

If you've been around long enough you've seen or read about the repeated failures of socialism. The most recent is oil-rich Venezuela which is on the brink after years of socialism. And yet the young are drawn to Sanders:

Socialism is in fact a wonderful vision — a world of the imagination far better than any place anywhere in the real world, at any time over the thousands of years of recorded history. Even many conservatives would probably prefer to live in such a world, if they thought it was possible.

Who would not want to live in a world where college was free, along with many other things, and where government protected us from the shocks of life and guaranteed our happiness? It would be Disneyland for adults!

Free college of course has an appeal to the young, especially those who have never studied economics. But college cannot possibly be free. It would not be free even if there was no such thing as money.

Sowell tallies up some of the things that go into delivering a college education. A professor teaching one course has probably had twenty years of education to prepare for the course. Food and clothing for the professor must be factored in, as must the same commodities for students. Then there are books, computers and a roof over one's head.

Sowell writes:

Add up all these costs — and multiply by a hundred or so — and you have a rough idea of what going to college costs. Whether these costs are paid by using money in a capitalist economy or by some other mechanism in a feudal economy, a socialist economy, or whatever, there are heavy costs to pay.

Moreover, under any economic system, those costs are either going to be paid or there are not going to be any colleges. Money is just an artificial device for getting real things done.

Those young people who understand this, whether clearly or vaguely, are not likely to be deterred from wanting socialism. Because what they really want is for somebody else to pay for their decision to go to college.

A market economy is one in which whoever makes a decision is the one who pays for that decision. It forces people to be sure that what they want to do is really worth what it is going to cost.
Many people receive subsidies today and the result is that they don't have to make the decision about the value of college. Some of them go to college to postpone adulthood and are not dedicated to getting an education.

Making things "free," Sowell argues, increases the odds that they will be wasted and that the recipients of this largess will become more beholden to politicians. Sowell writes:  

Worst of all, government giveaways polarize society into segments, each trying to get what it wants at somebody else's expense, creating mutual bitterness that can tear a society apart.

Some seem to blithely assume that "the rich" can be taxed to pay for what they want — as if "the rich" don't see what is coming and take their wealth elsewhere.

I can understand the glee that Sanders has dinted Mrs. Clinton's smug sense of that she is entitled to the presidency. But we should not delude ourselves about what a Sanders presidency would mean or what it means that so many young people believe in the promise of socialism.