More free stuff

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Bernie Sanders emerged from the land of the sugarplum fairies earlier this month to advocate for a 32-hour work week — all with no reduction in pay.

Sanders, the Vermont socialist, recently introduced a bill that would create a four-year transition period to a four-day work week in the United States. The government would then require overtime for anyone who toiled more than 32 hours in a week, while also preventing companies from readjusting pay and benefits to reflect the extra time off.


At a Senate committee hearing, Sanders presented Juliet Schor, a Boston University sociology professor, who testified that trials show the reform would increase worker happiness and productivity.

If so, Schor, who has spent the past two decades in academia, has identified a potential market inefficiency. Perhaps she and Sanders should find investors — while maybe contributing a bit of their own money — to fund a small business that would pay its employees top dollar to work less, throwing off massive profits as it exploits Schor’s findings to bury its traditional competitors.

We kid.

Sanders’ bill has no chance of passing. But it is yet another example of progressives operating in Never Never Land when it comes to the private economy and job creation. Imposing this plan on the country by government fiat would be a reckless and massive disruption to commerce and productivity. Among many other things, it would drive up prices for the very employees he professes to represent.

Sanders should first pitch his proposal to lawmakers in his home state of Vermont. After adopting the 32-hour work week, the Green Mountain State could also defund the police and impose a $50 minimum wage — all while offering residents free health care, housing and college tuition.

Surely, the folks in the rest of New England wouldn’t mind absorbing the massive exodus of Vermonters fleeing the state after Sanders had finished turning it into a barren economic wasteland resembling Venezuela.

Sanders might do well to remember the late George McGovern’s epiphany. In a 1992 Wall Street Journal op-ed, McGovern — a Democratic U.S. senator — recounted how he tried to open a quaint Connecticut inn after leaving the Senate only to be stymied by red tape.

“My business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc.,” he wrote. But while he “never doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is” that such regulations can smother employers.

“I also wish that during the years I was in public office,” McGovern admitted, “I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.”

Oh, that Sanders would be so humble.