If you follow politics long enough, you’ll eventually hear a candidate described with the phrase, “I just feel like you could sit down and have a beer with that guy.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) or “AOC” as she is known to the internet, has perhaps taken that concept to its logical conclusion—elevated from NYC bartender working in the Bronx to a 32 year-old U.S congresswoman in 2018.
AOC is a self-described “democratic-socialist.” Her positions are predictably left-wing, but she often goes even further than her Democratic lawmaker colleagues. This makes her a folk hero among younger, more radical voters… particularly those who were never taught economics.
If we start to do the math on AOC’s antics in congress, it becomes clear that most of her ideas conflict with basic realities or rely on imagined resources that simply don’t exist. Her policy is poorly thought out and based on theories that are flat-out wrong. All the following quotes are from the times AOC was completely wrong.
Healthcare as a right is one of those pernicious ideas that just won’t die. Never mind that government intrusion into healthcare and insurance, in the form of Medicare and other regulations, has already sent prices sky-high.
Progressives won’t be satisfied until they have full control over who receives what care, at a price they determine behind the scenes. The practical considerations of a socialized healthcare system for the U.S. are bad enough, but we need to really examine the base idea: healthcare as a right.
The Democratic Party in general have a blurry idea of rights. To them, a “right” is something that is given to you by your leaders. You’ll notice that the original American bill of rights doesn’t actually give you anything. What it does is outline what cannot be done to you by your government because of the rights you inherently possess.
The only exception is your right to a public defender, which protects your rights when your government tries to prosecute you for a crime! AOC believes in a version of “rights” called “positive rights,” which are entitlements that must be supplied to you.
Positive rights are by definition entitlements granted to you by a ruling class. This worldview is nonsensical and dangerous. How can we grant a scarce resource as a right? If hospital beds fill up, or there aren’t enough doctors to go around, who should determine which patients receive care?
What if I don’t want to receive the care that is being offered to me? Can I be forced to accept a treatment I don’t want so that I don’t violate my own rights? These are no longer abstract ideas.
We have seen firsthand the way that government overreach has corrupted our healthcare system throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in the form of vaccine mandates, lockdowns, and a lack of critical thinking amongst certain members of congress.
I don’t know about you, but bureaucrats are the last people I would hand the reigns of my healthcare to.
Here we have another example of progressives believing that resources can be mandated into existence. AOC’s central claim is that all jobs should pay a “living wage.” Taken to its logical conclusion, a “living wage for all” means that no matter how you choose to apply your time, and no matter how little value you actually produce, you should be subsidized by your employer.
Of course, no employer wants to pay for value they aren’t receiving, and they will do the obvious thing: fire (and never hire) anyone lacking the skills, experience, or ability to produce the new government-mandated minimum. Rather than helping the working class, a minimum-wage hike effectively prices people out of the job market and robs them of the opportunity to gain the skills that will help them earn more.
The same mechanic is behind a lot of the wealth disparity between certain minorities and everyone else. When unions overtook many industries, they enforced (or, often, had the government enforce) strict minimum wages across the board. Minorities and immigrants, who usually had the distinct advantage in this country of being able to underbid other workers when it comes to wages, were no longer allowed to do so
As a result, many people from other nations or from less fortunate socio-economic backgrounds were kept in the poor house, while white union workers continued to work.
Business owners have always understood this. If I work for myself and decide to spend all day pushing rocks uphill so that I can watch them roll back down, no one is going to step in and make sure that I receive a living wage for my misguided efforts. Unless of course…
Hey, more positive rights! Now I don’t have to put together that pushing-boulders-up-a-hill business plan. The government will do it for me!
The assurance, of course, is that anything the government throws labor at will be worthwhile and valuable. Let’s talk about where those jobs will come from. AOC fundamentally misunderstands the source of productivity. The government doesn’t actually produce anything. It can only take resources from someone who is a producer and redirect that money to someone else.
One has to wonder… if the money to productively employ all these people is already in circulation, why aren’t greedy business owners multiplying their hoarded cash by tackling these shovel-ready projects themselves? Producing value is so easy after all!
The reality is that by taxing proven producers even more, there will be less available capital in the very industries that are performing best! That means fewer jobs available on the free market, and more jobs invented out of thin air by Federal bureaucrats. Perhaps if we run out of jobs to guarantee people, we should run around breaking windows so that someone else can repair them. That makes two jobs at once! Window-breaker and window-fixer!
According to a survey by Samuel Abrams featured in the New York Times, the ratio of liberal-to-conservative staff in “student-facing” positions is a whopping 12 to 1! Is it any wonder that progressives want to subsidize such a fertile ground for indoctrination? Conflict of interest aside, “free college” showcases another glaring hole in AOC’s economic theories.
Whether they realize it or not, the central claim of those who support “free” college for all (along with full student-loan forgiveness) is that the degrees are overpriced. Students are paying too much for their college education, and not receiving the value they were promised after leaving the system. If they were receiving that value, they wouldn’t have trouble paying off their loans!
There are college degrees that payout for those who earn them, but there is a growing demographic of former students who feel ripped off. This is for a variety of reasons: over-saturation of the job market by degree-holders, federally backed student loans inflating prices, and proliferation of degree programs that don’t convey real-world skills.
The obvious solution is to allow the defective system to self-correct or die. AOC’s solution is to make the problem exponentially worse: by flooding the market with even more useless degrees at prices that are driven through the roof because no one has any incentive to ensure that the cost is rational. Another sneaky byproduct of Federal loan programs is that unelected bureaucrats in the DoE will inevitably gain the ability to approve or deny a college’s eligibility to receive student loans.
“Tax the rich” appears to be AOC’s favorite mantra, and has been parroted by so many of her friends, including Sanders, Pelosi, Warren, and millions of people on social media and CNN with only a vague concept in their minds of what the economy actually is. She even sells apparel emblazoned with the slogan for $58. She insists that the people we really need to target are those with huge net worths—the multimillionaires, the billionaires, the truly elite.
The problem with this idea is that it is based on a faulty premise: that you can tax the rich. “The rich” are smart. They know they can use their cash better than the government ever could (see: infrastructure bills, climate change regulations, the Green New Deal, etc.), so they hold on to every penny. They get to do this because, through the power of our government, they essentially make the rules.
They can afford to hire lobbyists, who use our bloated and overreaching government to make rules that allow them do what anyone else in their position would do: save money.
What actually happens when we hand more power to the government is we increase the reward and the incentive for the truly ultra-rich billionaires to rig our faulty governmental system. Without the clenched fist of the government to suppress their competition and direct subsidies to their own businesses, the “ultra-rich” would have far less power over the average citizen.
Meanwhile, the actual bulk of the 1%: everyday business owners, real estate investors, innovators, high-income individuals… in other words, the “doers” of America, are left with only one rational choice: stop producing in a country that only wants to rob them of their efforts, or mimic the ultra-rich and dodge taxes through entirely legal means.
Perhaps rather than endlessly attempting to enrich ourselves by tearing down those who have attained success, we should take a cue from them: take responsibility for our own lives and stop handing the government more of our money under the illusion that it does us any good. The government allows the ultra-rich to have full ownership over their own lives—why shouldn’t we?