Commentary

In Country Spending 50% of Budget on Safety Nets, AOC Warns People Without Jobs Are 'Left to Die'

There are going to be plenty of terrible bands at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, over the next week or so who give epically bad performances.

However, the biggest on-stage meltdown of the entire festival may have already come, courtesy of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The New York Democrat was one of the multitude of left-leaning personages who have appeared in interviews or symposiums at the annual event and managed to make some news thanks to an attack on Ronald Reagan and her insistence that the current state of America, at least economically, was “garbage.”

However, she went a bit further in her speech about how “garbage” we really are, saying that despite the fact the Uniteed States spends more than 50 percent of its budget on safety net programs, in America “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.”

According to The Verge, Ocasio-Cortez was asked by a member of the audience about automation leaving people jobless.

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“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work,” she responded. “We should be excited by that.

“But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.”

The Verge noted that she “didn’t put forward a specific plan for dealing with automation at SXSW,” because of course she didn’t. However, she said that we shouldn’t be working very much at all, given our salaries.

“We should be working the least amount we’ve ever worked, if we were actually paid based on how much wealth we were producing,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Do you think the United States leaves those without a job to die?

“But we’re not. We’re paid on how little we’re desperate enough to accept. And then the rest is skimmed off and given to a billionaire.”

Right. Tell that one to kids back in the child labor days.

“We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in,” she told the audience. “Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage.”

Of course, those sound an awful lot like work, which is what we should be excited about not having because we’ll be automated out of it and have our wages paid by the government, but, um, socialism.

Anyway, the whole upshot of her remarks was that we live in a wasteland of social Darwinism in which Brechtian billionaires exploit us like drones and will leave us to die once automation is advanced enough.

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However, the idea that President Donald Trump, by Ocasio-Cortez’s own logic, is saving millions of lives because of record low unemployment was, surprisingly, not really explored.

Equally unexplored was the fact — again by Ocasio-Cortez’s own logic — that record low minority unemployment meant Trump was saving untold numbers of minority lives. The sometimes confused Democrat might not realize it, but she just credited Trump with saving countless black lives — and that should matter.

But that’s following Ocasio-Cortez’s logic. There’s a fundamental flaw in the idea, though, that the United States leaves people without jobs to die in a society where more than half of the federal budget can go to safety net programs. In 2017, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 59 percent of the budget was spent that way.

“In 2017, 24 percent of the budget, or $945 billion, paid for Social Security, which provided monthly retirement benefits averaging $1,404 to 42 million retired workers in December 2017,” the center noted in a report updated in January. “Social Security also provided benefits to 3 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.4 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2017.

“Four health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace subsidies — together accounted for 26 percent of the budget in 2017, or $1 trillion. Nearly three-fifths of this amount, or $597 billion, went to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 59 million people who are over age 65 or have disabilities. The rest of this category funds Medicaid, CHIP, and ACA subsidy and marketplace costs.”

And then there are other assorted safety net programs, which take up 9 percent of the budget.

“Safety net programs include: the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist low- and moderate-income working families; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals or households, including Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income people, including SNAP (food stamps), school meals, low-income housing assistance, child care assistance, and help meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children,” the CBPP noted.

To Ocasio-Cortez, that’s a country that lets people without a job to die.

Again, I’m sure this went over well down at SXSW, where the audience was primarily simpatico, but for those who might be skeptical about Ocasio-Cortez being the future of liberalism, this was a disastrous performance in so many ways.

The idea that a country with record low unemployment and a sound economy is currently “garbage” isn’t one that a whole lot of people are going to buy.

Compound that with the idea that we should be happy to be automated out of a job, presumably since the government ought to be paying for us, and the concept that we live in a country where “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die” and this is going to be an Ocasio-Cortez appearance people won’t forget for a while — if for all the wrong reasons.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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