Question for Democratic presidential candidates: Do you agree that the current reality in America is "garbage," and that the capitalistic system -- which has led to unprecedented human prosperity, while eliminating extreme poverty on an astonishing scale -- is "irredeemable"? Unofficial party leader Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made both assertions at SXSW in Austin over the weekend, adding an extra chestnut about unemployed people being "left to die" in this country, or something:
Ah yes AOC... you calling America “garbage” is the perfect way to end the week— Calli Norton (@CalliNorton) March 10, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez: In US 'if you don't have a job you are left to die' https://t.co/ItRsH8VQN0— Matthew Sheffield (@mattsheffield) March 10, 2019
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose sudden rise to prominence has made her a target of Republicans and a sometime irritant to her party’s leaders, called capitalism an “irredeemable” system that is to blame for income inequality...She directed some of her sharpest comments at an economic system that she said values profit over people. “Capitalism is an ideology of capital –- the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said. And that comes at any cost to people and to the environment, she said, “so to me capitalism is irredeemable.”...“We should be scared right now because corporations have taken over our government,” she said.
A few points here: (1) Looking at this data, then attacking as "irredeemable" the economic system that's responsible for so much quantifiable progress, is morally bankrupt -- although bankruptcy seems to be a feature of her ideology. (2) Two-thirds of Americans feel optimistic about the state of the US economy, on which the president enjoys majority support. Yes, a similar supermajority also believes the country is on the wrong track, yet very few blame the country's core values for that reticence. And an overwhelming share of the 177 million people who have private healthcare plans are pleased with their coverage. In other words, on a host of big measures, Americans are fairly satisfied with the status quo in the United States. There are obvious and urgent areas for improvement, no doubt, but dystopic descriptions of the so-called "garbage" conditions gripping our country -- or "American carnage," for that matter -- tend to sound like off-notes to most Americans' optimistic ears.
(3) The notion that people without jobs are discarded on the death heap is ludicrously false. US taxpayers have spent many trillions of dollars on social safety net programs over the years, including welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, children's healthcare, Medicaid, and more. Many conservatives believe that these programs should be reformed to be efficient and sustainable, but they very much exist to help people. We are not a cold, mean-spirited people; in fact, beyond government mechanisms, we are by far the most generous charitable contributors on earth. Now, if one chooses to at least partially receive AOC's "left to die" comment as a critique of a culture that highly values work, that's another story. We do believe in the value and dignity of work, as we should. "Not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage," AOC said onstage. That's true, but creativity doesn't diminish the vital importance of paid work. But back to my original question: Do 2020 Democrats concur with AOC's assessments? Are they willing to say so publicly? Or will they just blow off steam in private, fearful of attracting her ire on social media? An intriguing snapshot:
Meanwhile, here's an observation from the ex-Starbucks CEO, whose eyes are wide open to the Democratic Party's leftward slide, evidenced by what even 'moderates' feel obliged to say:
If even a successful businessman and entrepreneur like Governor Hickenlooper can't openly support capitalism in the Democratic primary, it's clear this is Senator Sanders' party now. pic.twitter.com/woZ8tuepiM— Howard Schultz (@HowardSchultz) March 8, 2019
I'll leave you with a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of an actually irredeemable economic regime:
Ugh. Beyond all the likeability and social media gimmickry and media savvy charm lies this: a core idea so bad and so vigorously ignorant of economic history that it’s frightening. The eternal fool’s recipe to greatly increase poverty and pain. https://t.co/dbjpyhlTaJ— Mike Murphy (@murphymike) March 10, 2019