Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' Pitiable Betrayal 3

Meaning well is nice, but you need to do the math.

The previous article in this series discussed newly-elected Democrat representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's cohort's mistaken belief that they have "never seen prosperity" and her misunderstanding of the power of economic incentives.  Knowing the real wealth of people whom our government defines as "poor", when compared with the rest of the world - many of whose citizens get by on less than $1 per day - we find "never seen prosperity" ludicrous in the extreme.

Unfortunately, our education system has done such as good job of telling them how "the rich" have been ripping them off that they have no idea that the prosperity we now enjoy is the result of generations and generations of very hard work.  They are so thoroughly convinced that big businesses have plenty of money and simply refuse to give their employees the just fruits of their labors, that they believe that universal prosperity can be achieved by passing laws demanding that businesses pay their employees more.

Boosting the minimum wage is part of the Democrat's war on the poor.  AOC should know this by personal experience: the bar where she worked went out of business when New York City raised its minimum wage enough to make the enterprise unprofitable.  Somehow, though, she doesn't seem to have picked up on this vivid demonstration of the law of supply and demand.

For someone who has received a first-class education, there are some quite astonishing gaps in AOC's knowledge: she seems to believe that food grows in supermarkets!  It's all too possible that she may never have seen a farm while growing up in the Bronx and nearby suburbs, but to her credit, she started a small plot in a community garden in Washington, D.C.

On returning to DC after a few weeks back in her district, she tweeted a video of inspecting her garden.  She says, "I am SHOOK, like honestly, gardening, FOOD-- that comes out of dirt... like, it’s magic."

The video shows her marveling at how gardens grow.  Is this really news to her?  Will she learn that gardens require a lot of work, or will her minions do the work so that she can continue to feel that groceries appear "like, it's magic?"  If she truly believes that desirable goods appear like magic, her belief in "Free lunch" makes a lot more sense.

The point we're making is not to ridicule her as a moron; far from it.  Don't just read our description; actually watch and, most importantly, listen to the video.

If you're honest, you will hear pure delight in her voice, which reminds us of long-ago youthful adventures with soybeans and a coffee can.  The plants grew all across the ceiling, and we got enough for a bowl of soup.

Her delight in her plants shows that she's a caring human being.  This is no small matter: can you imagine, say, Nancy Pelosi showing the same honest pleasure at anything not involving high numbers preceded by either a dollar sign or the heading "Poll Results"?

In her career thus far, AOC has identified some serious problems - real ones which also alarm us - and she's seriously trying to solve them, though from fundamentally flawed premises learned from a grossly misguided education.  Believing that she honestly likes and believes the preposterous suggestions she's made requires some pretty heroic assumptions about the utter fraud perpetrated by our educational establishment, but everything we read about what goes on in our supposed "institutions of higher learning" suggests that we're underestimating the problem.

What sort of educated human being has never been given the opportunity to try and grow something?  That has nothing to do with educational resources, as our teachers' union bosses would have you believe: a packet of seeds costs less than a buck, empty tin cans are free, and even the concrete jungles of Manhattan sport some abandoned back alley where windblown debris has piled up and decayed into viable loam.  All that's needed is a teacher who actually cares; how can you not feel sorry for poor elementary-aged AOC who apparently never encountered anyone who cared enough to show her the marvels of seeds maturing into food?

Consider the learning opportunity here - her tomato plant died because it wasn't cared for properly.  Everyone who has gardened knows that there is a right way and a wrong way to grow plants and that every plant has its own set of non-negotiable needs.  No matter how strong your beliefs about what should make a plant happy, if you don't meet its real needs, it will die.

There is a vital principle illustrated in her garden: reality doesn't care about your beliefs.  AOC's utter delight proves that she is not (yet) so jaded by power as to be immune to the appeal of the real, at least not when it's right in front of her.  In other words, she's not beyond hope!

What's needed is someone, not to throw rocks at her, but to assist her in properly educating herself about reality.  Congressman Andy Barr (D, KY), made a hesitant step in this direction by inviting her to tour a coal mine in his district with him.  As a denizen of Babylon-on-the-Hudson, it's unlikely AOC has ever seen where the energy that powers her entire life comes from, much less met any of the people who pry it from the ground; how could such an experience not be helpful?

We can't know Rep. Barr's true motivations or all the pressure he may have been under, but it is deeply regrettable that this potentially life-changing opportunity was canceled.  If conservatism is to survive, much less make progress, we need to learn how to persuade people on the other side.

Sense of Entitlement

In discussing AOC's run for Congress, Time quoted a member of the political action committee which sponsored her campaign:

"We were all children of the recession," say Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats. "There's an overwhelming sense that the economic and political system in our country is rigged."

They're right!  The system is completely rigged against young people, particularly in New York City where she tried to start her business.  Taxes are extreme - New York State levies a 5.25% tax on taxable income between $11,701 and $13,900 and a 4% sales tax.  The city levies an income tax of about 3% in that bracket and the city sales tax is 4.5%.  Federal income tax would be about 15% and there is no federal sales tax.

Suppose AOC wanted to buy an item with a sales price of $100.  The combined sales tax would be 8.5% so she would have to pay $108.50 for it.  To earn that much after the 8.25% combined New York income tax and the 15% federal tax, she'd have to earn $133 to buy that $100 item.  30% of her income disappears into taxation right off the top.

There's no sales tax on Obamacare or paying back her loan, but neither are they tax-deductible, so she has to earn $612 to be able to pay the $500 after income taxes.  She probably didn't take any pay while trying to get her business off the ground and tending bar after her business failed wouldn't pay much.  It's no wonder that she and the college graduates of her generation feel that they're stuck on a treadmill with no way to buy houses or start families.

Even Scragged writers feel despair from time to time.  It's easy to understand AOC's point of view, and as conservatives who care about actual people instead of amorphous groups, it's important that we take the effort to do so.

She did as she was told through high school, then got a decent degree from a good college, and promptly flamed out in startup circles and in the workplace.  It can't be said that getting out of college while the economy was in one of its more difficult phases was her fault, and a major portion of her sense of indignation at life not working out as well as she expected isn't really her fault either.

Her cohort has been taught no history which would help them realize just how prosperous America has become, particularly when compared to modern Europe or with the past.

By historical standards, this is bizarre.  Our modern expectation that life would inevitably get better, particularly if you got a college education, is relatively recent.

When our soldiers returned from the Pacific after WW II, our government passed the "GI Bill" to help soldiers go to college.  We had an economic boom in the immediate post-war years.  Colleges happily accepted the government's tuition subsidies and claimed loudly that their efforts at educating the GIs deserved most of the credit for the boom.

We beg to differ.  WW II was truly a World Wide War except for the United States and Canada.  Factories in Europe, Asia, India, and Africa were more or less destroyed.  The only factories left standing with their infrastructure intact were those in America, which had been protected by two oceans.  Our manufacturers were able to sell into pretty much any market in the world because we had essentially no significant competitors.

As the survivors dug out of the rubble and rebuilt their factories, they began to compete with us.  As we see it, sending GIs to college never had the positive economic benefit that was claimed for it; the happenstance of having the "last factories standing" accounted for much of our success.

People also forgot that before the GI bill, students who could afford to go to college were generally children of the well-off.  It's been known for many generations that kids of wealthier parents tend to be wealthier than average regardless of other factors.  Most of these people would have earned more than average whether they'd gone to college or not.

What's worse, when it became received wisdom that people with degrees made more money than people without, nobody noticed that the choice of degree mattered.  "XX Studies" programs produce indebted baristas, for example, though to her credit, AOC is not herself among their number.

Prior to WW II and mass college education, businesses still wanted to grow; they simply had to work with the human resources available to them.  Either they designed jobs that could be performed by people without college educations, or they provided the required training at company expense.

Are we truly better off now that the majority of good-paying jobs require fantastically expensive college degrees paid for in advance by students with no guarantee of a job after graduation - and, in many cases, where the actual education contributes nothing whatsoever to one's capability to do the work required?  AOC did not require a college degree to start her business or tend bar.   Her economics classes appear to have done her little good as either a failed entrepreneur or successful Congresscritter.

Neither the nation nor she herself are the better for the quarter-million or so she flushed down the drain - but how could any teenager be expected to realize this, when literally every "trusted authority" in her life is singing the same song about how essential college is, the more expensive the better?

(Her) Morality Trumps Facts

Time quoted her reaction to the many, many critics who have criticized the accuracy of what she says:

"I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

This reminds us of the New York Times article citing George Stephanopoulos, an adviser to President Clinton, complaining about critics who wanted to compare President Clinton's actions with his earlier promises:

"The problem is an excess of literalism."

Mr. Stephanopoulos was saying that people shouldn't take what President Clinton (D) said literally.  Hmm!  The raging criticism of Mr. Trump's (R) utterances leads us to suspect that any search for accuracy is just one more Democrat double standard.

As we see it, claiming that morality trumps facts has an overriding defect - physics has no morality, and our entire economy runs on physics.  Unfortunately for AOC's morality, an MIT study has found that nuclear energy is absolutely essential if we're to replace fossil fuels as AOC desires.  Without nuclear power or fossil fuels, we will either have a lot less electricity than we do now and it will cost 3 or 4 times as much.

The credibility of the MIT study is increased by a Forbes article which shows that American CO2 emissions have gone down since Mr. Trump pulled us out of that silly Paris agreement.  German emissions, on the other hand, have gone up and electricity costs have tripled as they've subsidized renewables to Save the Planet.

It's all very well for AOC and her fellow greenies to want to eliminate the internal combustion engine and private automobiles in favor of high-speed rail, but while that may be morally right according to her world view, it won't work in a nation as spread-out as America.  The government of New York City, the densest population center in North America, has shown that it is incapable of maintaining the subway they have or of running it even close to break-even.

Ponder spreading New York City subway operating economics all over the country!  Regardless of morality, that is fiscally unfeasible - to say nothing of how much carbon-dioxide-emitting concrete would need to be laid all across the previously-fruited plain.  As the New York Times has reported, city subways cost $3.5 billion per mile of track, which is seven times the cost elsewhere in the world.

This is not really an engineering problem which can be solved by college-educated engineers; we know how to build railways perfectly well and have for a very long time.  Most of the extra cost is due to union-demanded overmanning, inefficient work rules, and high wages.  How does AOC plan to break the union stranglehold on government construction jobs?  Can we afford her infrastructure dreams if our costs are seven times higher than in other countries?

Infrastructure construction isn't the only place where the cancer of union overcharging has spread.  The New York Post reports on overtime costs while operating the publicly-owned Long Island railroad:

Chief measurement operator Thomas Caputo pulled in a stunning $461,646, including $344,147 in OT, nearly triple his salary. Track worker Marco Pazmino upped his $55,000 pay nearly six times, to $311,000, by logging 4,157 OT hours (suggesting he was on the clock 22.4 hours a day, Monday through Friday, all year).

We haven't personally examined Mr. Pazmino's timesheets, but either they are flat-out lies aided and abetted by corrupt government-bureaucrat bosses, or he is being permitted by those same bosses to work in a grossly unsafe fashion.  An earlier Post article showed how these inflated final-year incomes result in much higher pensions.  Pensions are calculated based on the last year's pay, including overtime!

The Hill tells us that one reason AOC and her fellow travelers opposed the tax breaks that Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio offered Amazon in return for creating 25,000 high-paying jobs in the city was "the company's anti-union track record."  Why doesn't AOC's honors degree in economics suggest to her that these huge payments to well-connected union members come at everyone else's expense?  Why doesn't she know about these abuses of the public?

College employees have started to unionize as their costs go through the roof, but subsidized student loans disconnect college students from experiencing the actual costs.  Colleges aren't telling students about their inflated salaries and other labor costs, of course.

AOC may regard support for strong unions or boosting the minimum wage as moral issues, but as with most unionized blue states, New York's union wages, pensions, work rules, and other costs are simply not sustainable.  Raising taxes is not going to solve the problem.

The only way to save our economy is to blast away excessive union costs.  The only way to save our education system is to blast away unionized educrats.  This will be messy in the extreme, but the total collapse of our society would be a lot messier.

AOC Uber Alles!

We agree with Ms. Pelosi that a glass of water with a D on it could win her district.  As we see it, there is very little hope of her being defeated at the polls.  The Democratic National Committee has threatened to ban and blacklist any consultants or political operatives who try to help anyone run against Democrat incumbents in the upcoming primaries.  We realize that if it weren't for double standards, Democrats would have no standards at all.

It would be no surprise to find that the DNC decides to grant absolution to anyone who tried to take out AOC, but that would open up a free-for-all as AOC's cohort tries to take out older Democrats such as Ms. Pelosi.  As we see it, she's in there for the long haul, at least until she's old enough to run for President.

Besides, she's telling her voters what they want to hear - free lunch, higher wages, and we'll fix the environment once we get rid of those Wascally Wepublicans.  Who's going to top her offers to her district?

While acknowledging her sense of entitlement and her convictions that her view of morality trumps both physics and economics, we stand by our conviction that AOC is an intelligent, caring person with a positive genius for self-promotion and marketing ideas.  Our clickbait media will quote anything she says that will get them page views and none of todays "journalists" are intellectually equipped to look behind her slogans to the obstacles imposed by physical reality.

We can't beat AOC - certainly not in her own district - and joining her would be abhorrent.  Instead, we must learn from her: try to explain why she thinks as she does and to marshal the facts and data to discuss her programs with anyone we meet.  We can't coerce her; we have to convince her, or if not her, at least people like her!

Which leads us to AOC's best-known platform, and the wildest fantasy of them all, her Green New Deal.  But we'll examine that in the next article in this series.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Environment.
Reader Comments

Ocasio-Cortez has the mind of a fanatic: a black & white world view, uncompromising, judgmental, sanctimonious. Historically fanatics who reach high places are with the best of reasons marginalized, instituted or sent to early graves by saner associates. Occasionally however one has real power fall into his hands by accident or the machinations of those for whom he fronts.

This one is positioned to take and run with it should that occur. The Democratic leadership, struggling rather unsuccessfully to retain control in the rising chaos of a radicalizing base, seems so far unable to handle her in the traditional ways. She is a dangerous person.

May 11, 2019 7:47 AM

The results of raising the minimum are clear - the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that it harms small businesses.

Do increases in federal minimum wage impact the financial health of small businesses? Using intertemporal variation in whether a state’s minimum wage is bound by the federal rate and credit-score data for approximately 15.2 million establishments for the period 1989–2013, we find that increases in the federal minimum wage worsen the financial health of small businesses in the affected states. Small, young, labor-intensive, minimum-wage sensitive establishments located in the states bound to the federal minimum wage and those located in competitive and low-income areas experience higher financial stress. Increases in the minimum wage also lead to lower bank credit, higher loan defaults, lower employment, a lower entry and a higher exit rate for small businesses. The results are robust to using nearest-neighbor matching and geographic regression discontinuity design. Our results document some potential costs of a one-size-fits-all nationwide minimum wage, and we highlight how it can have an adverse effect on the financial health of some small businesses.

December 10, 2019 9:23 AM
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