Contemplating the silly pronouncements of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, self-declared socialist and surprise winner of Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, I wonder if this particular form of political stupidity requires a certain level of affluence to thrive.
There are, after all, many salubrious processes that produce unpleasant by-products as part of their activity. You see it in manufacturing, you see it in biology. You eat the steak, it nourishes you and makes you strong, but it also results in odiferous and potentially toxic by-products.
Capitalism is the greatest engine for the production of wealth that the ingenuity of man has ever devised. But after it achieves a certain level of prosperity, it regularly excretes characters like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, beneficiaries of capitalism whose contempt for its strictures is equaled only by their ignorance of its tenets.
Ocasio-Cortez is hardly alone. On the contrary, we see calls for socialist policies emitted by left-leaning politicians and pundits across the country and in Europe. A few years ago, Newsweek, a former news magazine, ran a cover declaring “We’re all socialists now.” One of my favorite examples of this silliness was Jermey Corbyn’s claim in 2013 that Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela showed us that there was a “better way” of doing things: “it’s called socialism.” Today, we see that a couple of decades of socialism has transformed Venezuela from one of the richest countries in South America to a society on the verge of collapse.
Margaret Thatcher famously observed that the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t grasped that yet. Thus she has campaigned for tuition-free universities and the forgiveness of all student loan debt in the United States, the price tag for which is well in excess of $1 trillion. She wants the United States to abandon fossil fuels and somehow (physics is not her forte) run the electric grid entirely on wind and solar power. Naturally, she advocates a single-payer health care system and wants to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The implementation of any one of these proposals would seriously hurt US prosperity. Taken all together they would push the country far down the road towards penury, the inevitable result of socialism.
Calls for socialism recur like plagues of locusts every several years, most virulently, it seems, not when the economy is suffering but when it is booming. The policies of Donald Trump have sparked an astonishing spurt of economic growth and renewal of consumer confidence. So perhaps it is not surprising that children of all ages have emerged to whine and rant and demand that socialism be “given a chance.” I like to think that the people writ large are too sensible to fall for this charade. But the fact that calls for socialism are once again crowding the airwaves reminds us that folly is a noxious hardy perennial that prudent gardeners need to be eternally vigilant to spot and extirpate.