Sen. Bernie Sanders engages UVM


In a discussion organized by College Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about current issues that the United States’ economy is facing.   

Sanders is the longest serving Independent in Congress, and currently represents the state of Vermont as one of its’ senators, leader of the College Democrats Brittany Nevins said in her introduction.

He is known for defending the interests of the working class, Nevins said. Sanders spoke about the importance of engaging young people in the democratic process.

“This country faces enormous problems,” Sanders said. “I think it is imperative that we put these problems on the table to analyze and dissect them and say ‘where do we go from here?'”  

He spoke about significant changes that the country has faced recently and the importance of young people in working to change these problems.  

Sanders described the current state of our country’s economy as the worst recession since the Great Depression.  

The generation that college students are in is the first generation in modern times to have a lower standard of living than their parents, he said.  

One point that Sanders strongly emphasized is the difference in the unemployment rate that is printed in newspapers and spoken about from the actual unemployment rate.

He said that the unemployment rate that is currently talked about, 9 percent, does not include those that aren’t employed because they gave up looking for work. If you include those people, Sanders said the rate is actually 16 percent.  

Sanders spoke about how this unemployment rate also relates to declining median family income, causing the poverty rate to increase. He said that 25 percent of children get nutrition from food stamps.

He said that while a great deal of the country is in poverty, the people on top are doing phenomenally well.  

“The top 1 percent earns more income than the bottom 50 percent,” Sanders said.  

The 400 richest people in the country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million people, he added.  

Along with the huge gap between the rich and the poor, the health insurance problem in this country is also great, Sanders said.

There are 50 million people in the U.S. that do not have health insurance, and we are the only nation in the industrial world that does not guarantee health care, he said.  

Currently, there is a proposed health insurance program that would cover everyone living in Vermont as a right.  

If passed, this program would be a cost-effective way to get rid of private insurance companies, he said.  

Sanders’ last main point involved the problem of the expensive education system currently in place in our country.  

Many European countries do not put a price on education because “they want the best-educated workforce that they can find,” he said. He added that these countries may not be crazy for giving out free education to their citizens.

Sophomore Frances Russell came to the discussion because he is a big fan of Bernie, he said.  Russell said that he admires Sanders and thought that the biggest problem Sanders talked about was the overall economic situation of our country.

Sanders does not just have supporters and followers from Vermont. Continuing education student Mark Kelly, who is from Tennessee, came to hear Sanders speak because he said he was curious to hear about the economy.  

“What he said makes a lot of sense,” Kelly said. “A lot of it is very depressing.”