J.D. Foster J.D. Foster
Former Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Former Chief Economist


April 16, 2019


America has demonstrated yet again its innovative capacity in creating a new path to the American Dream. Sometimes we doubt the truth of the statement that if you work hard, live right, you will prosper. Fortunately, two regular folks now running for president of the United States have shown the dream is alive and well.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren reported in her 2018 financial disclosure form total assets of between $2.59 million and $8.49 million, and her released 2018 tax return shows she made $846,394, of which $324,687 came from writing. According to a summary of her views provided by PBS, Senator Warren supports the “Green New Deal,” whatever that means. She also supports “Medicare for All,” whatever that means. And she supported a bill to allow students to attend public colleges free of tuition or expenses relating to room and board. We know what that means.

Contrary to the current fad in some political circles, Warren insists she is not a socialist because she believes in markets. Many socialists also believe in markets, however. As Vladimir Lenin is reported to have said, the goal of socialism in managing the economy is to control the “commanding heights,” leaving market processes to govern the rest.

Perhaps the distinction really is whether one embraces the ennobling and prospering power of markets to harness resources to address the nation’s needs, subject to appropriate government oversight, or one merely accepts as inescapable the reality government is ill-equipped to manage a complex economy and thus the marketplace, carefully scrutinized, is inescapable. Given her insistence, one ought to accept Warren’s insistence she is in the former camp.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his wife had, according to their 2015 financial disclosure, jointly accumulated assets of less than $750,000, but almost all of this was in his wife’s name. Senator Sanders listed no assets in his name on the disclosure.

But then Senator Sanders challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, running as the first unapologetic socialist in modern history. He failed in that quest, but then, taking advantage of his newfound notoriety, he wrote a best-selling book and vaulted to become a millionaire. As Senator Sanders quipped, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

Senator Warren is earning a tidy sum off her writings, which accrued not because she was a successful bankruptcy professor but because she is a politician of national standing with many interesting ideas and a substantial following.

Sanders is not the least bit apologetic in forging a new path to the millionaire’s club, and the author herewith has nothing but respect for his accomplishment.

So there, friends, is the new path to the American dream: Espouse radical views, socialist if possible, gain national attention, run for president if possible, then write a book and be proud of what you have earned because, in fact, you earned it.

Kudos to you, Senators.

About the authors

J.D. Foster

J.D. Foster

Dr. J.D. Foster is the former senior vice president, Economic Policy Division, and former chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He explores and explains developments in the U.S. and global economies.