There’s an article released recently by The Washington Post. An opinion piece by Elizabeth Bruening, that opens with her describing a twitter post aimed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from conservative television host John Cardillo. Cardillo’s tweet, to be fair, was pretty bad. He claimed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went to Brown University, an Ivy League school – she didn’t. And the low blow at the tail end of the tweet wasn’t necessary. However, the author of the piece goes on to zig and zag a bit.
This is the Yorktown Heights (very nice area) home @Ocasio2018 grew up in before going off to Ivy League Brown University.
A far cry from the Bronx hood upbringing she’s selling. pic.twitter.com/xyOtZzVJII
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) July 1, 2018
Early on in the article she has this to say about the popular criticisms levied against Bernie Sanders, claiming that just because he has $700 coats, and a vacation home on the lake, it doesn’t make him dishonest, and any attempt to say as much is an attack on his obviously moral politics.
“You will all be called champagne socialists or yacht communists, the ritzier and more radical counterparts of limousine liberals. It doesn’t matter how comparatively humble your background is, or how relatively modest your means in the context of the political class at-large — it’ll always be news if Bernie Sanders wears a $700 coat or buys a house by a lake, because his political position on inequality is so obviously moral that the only way to impeach it is to make him seem dishonest about it.”
And later on, in the article she exercises a bit of cognitive dissonance by describing her opinion of politicians and their finances, implying that politicians are getting rich in unethical and filthy ways.
“and underneath all of that is the neglected fact that there really aren’t many poor people in politics, not simply because politics is a good way to get filthy rich in the most emphatically filthy way but also because it’s a hard racket to break into if you’re not a little canny in the ways of the well-to-do.”
Bernie Sanders’ imaginary moral high ground
To her [the WaPo author’s] credit I’m sure that in writing this she is referring to the fact that Bernie Sanders pretty much totally rejects the private sector. To his credit, he doesn’t accept PAC money, and he’s historically been very vocally opposed to Wall St. However, none of that is what makes Bernie Sanders’ behavior unethical and it’s not what makes him dishonest.
It has far more to do with the fact that he is essentially made out of taxpayer money. He spends all of his time rallying against the 1%, and he’s in the 1%. And instead of earning his money from private models, like getting paid to speak, or providing a service to someone that they are willing to pay for, he instead relies on income that is taken from individuals who do not have a say in whether or not they want it taken, for services many of them do not want and didn’t ask for. Sander’s entire net worth consists of a salary from his senate position, and social security (the largest Ponzi scheme of all time, set to be insolvent in 17 years) and pension payments made to him and his wife. There are also mutual funds, and retirement accounts that help to add to the $1M net worth valuation.
Bernie was once quoted (in a tweet): “A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much, while so many have so little.”
A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much, while so many have so little. #EnoughIsEnough
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2014
It’s pretty safe to say the flack Bernie gets is warranted. He’s advocating people live in a way that he isn’t willing to live himself. Stating that a nation cannot survive when a 1% can hold so much wealth, despite the fact that he is indeed among the 1%, and all of his wealth has come from taking money from the very people he claims to be fighting for.
And while [from the earlier mentioned tweet] the bit about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s home was presented in a really sub-optimal manner, It doesn’t mean that her positions are above criticism.
To be fair, if Bernie didn’t claim he was operating on some high ground that set him apart I would have no argument to be made here. Just look at Kamala Harris, I disagree a great deal with her politics, but she makes no excuses for the reasons she takes money she does from the sources she does. I will speak about what I disagree with in terms of policy in regard to Harris, but I have no such criticisms to make against her position on economic virtue. She’s recently rejected PAC funding, and I think that’s probably a good thing. But that’s a lot different than flat our rejecting capitalism and pretending it makes you a saint.
A little bit about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
She’s actually ran a very impressive grassroots campaign, that any aspiring political candidate could learn a lot from. She took from the Bernie model (she worked of rejecting PAC and big establishment money, and instead relied on some pretty impressive grassroot efforts, and is an avid grassroots organizer. None of that is what makes her a hypocrite, or dishonest, and I’m not prepared to say that she’s either of those things in this article. I do believe that the television personality that took a swing at Ocasio-Cortez was wrong. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own concerns.
Ocasio-Cortez is being touted by many as an economic maverick, she boasts a degree in economics as a point of proof that her positions are sound.
The problem here is that despite her degree, her policy is not sound. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a supporter of Modern Monetary Theory and has a democrat socialist platform that calls for a single-payer healthcare system, and a guaranteed job for every American. There are a lot of reasons Modern Monetary Theory doesn’t work, but we won’t go into all of that here, one of the core arguments against it, however, is always inflation.
And the model for guaranteed jobs for every American will lead to inflation, too. Aside from the fact that the government is proposing an hourly wage of $11-$12 while mandating certain states a mandatory minimum of $15 (nice to see the government can’t even compete with its own policies, however, to be fair Bernie Sanders supports a version of this that calls for a $15/hr mandatory minimum wage) – for those operating under $11 minimum wage, this will set an artificial price floor. For private companies to stay competitive, they will need to raise wages themselves, and these losses will result in the loss of jobs, and the inflation in the cost of products/goods.
This entire program is reported to cost around $540B, which isn’t a problem at all to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who believes the U.S. can just make more fiat to cover the cost. According to Modern Monetary Theory, debt is actually savings for the private sector, it [MMT] claims a budget deficit isn’t a bad thing so long as the spending is productive.
While she may favor MMT, I don’t believe everyone in Washington would just decide to go ahead and get on the same page. According to Modern Monetary Theory, taxes do not pay for policy and government services, instead taxes are a way to validate the value of the currency and is payment to the federal government. So, for MMT resources are not taken from the rich and distributed to the poor, rather resources are paid to the government. The government then goes and spends to distribute resources to those who “have too little.” MMT views these two things, (taxation, and government spending) as two entirely separate things. Again, there are plenty of issues I have with MMT (i’ll save that for a different article) but what important here is that, as I said earlier: MMT is not currently taken into consideration for policy by the United States Government, and these federal job expansions and healthcare programs will lead to higher taxes to fund them.
If we are to assume that weren’t the case, then we’re just looking at an even larger expansion of government and government spending and debt. Now, I know i’m not exactly an accomplished academic economist, but every other country around the world that’s adopted the methods of significantly increasing spending and debt, and controlling prices and market activity, aren’t exactly going gangbusters.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s family had the opportunity to work hard, and put themselves in a decent neighborhood, giving Alexandria the ability to go to better schools, and have a better life. The ability to do this, is precisely what these policies are going to eliminate. Buying a house isn’t cheap, and neither is picking up and moving to a new city. In order to achieve this you have to accumulate capital, so you can spend it on things like a home, and all of the expenses that come with having one, and moving. Creating low wage jobs at the expense of private sector jobs, while making prices for goods higher, would not have helped this process. Furthermore, taxing her parents more as they worked to provide for their family would have only made things harder on them. Without the financial ability to be more flexible, you’re kind of just stuck where you’re at, waiting for equality to make things better.
The DNC chair claims that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the future of the Democratic party, and there’s more than just conservative outlets and personalities who think that may not be the best thing in the world for the Democratic Party.
Policy aside, it’s important to note the article written by Elizabeth Bruening that inspired me to write one of my own, as it points to the problem with making vulgar uneducated arguments. The response to this style of argumentation? Instead of being able to at least address the merits of policy or economic positions, the call is to simply ignore opposing viewpoints. Good job, everyone, this is really just peak discourse. Extremes pushing extremes, i’m sure there’s no way this ends badly. There are legitimate arguments to be made about the hypocrisy that can be displayed by socialists, and there are legitimate concerns to be had for the seemingly unsustainable policy platform. If individuals continue to ignore legitimate points of argumentation in favor of trying to pull off a snippy twitter burn, the opposition in the field of ideas is shutting down and walking away from the conversation. I can’t say confidently that there would have been a productive conversation between these two sides in any scenario, but I can say that taking a swing like this tweet as a response, a swing that is inaccurate and in poor taste, certainly didn’t help.