Kris Morgan 11/8/2018
In this year’s midterm election, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to the House Of Representatives at age 29. Love her or hate her, you have heard of her. According to her bio, “she thoroughly defeated 10-term New York Democratic congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district in the state’s Democratic primary, with close to 58 percent of the vote. It was her first time running for office, and as a Democratic Socialist of Puerto Rican descent, her stunning victory over the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House was a boon to the progressive change that many liberal voters have been demanding.” So what is it about her message that makes her so popular?
Top issues listed on her campaign website include medicare for all, a peace economy, abolishing ICE, addressing climate change, and higher education. Since some of these topics have been addressed elsewhere, I’d like to examine her proposals with regards to climate change, higher education, and a peace economy.
When discussing a peace economy, Cortez claims that the wars in the Middle East are unjust and lists the benefits of bringing the troops home. “In times when we’re told that there’s not enough money, Republicans and corporate Democrats seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon “modernization” program. The costs are extreme: the Pentagon’s budget for 2018 is $700 billion dollars, all to continue fighting an endless War on Terror and re-fighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win.”
While libertarians agree with the message of peace, Cortez misses the point of her own argument. It seems she is perfectly content being against Democratic Socialism when tax money is spent on things she doesn’t approve. Furthermore, she fails to recognize that public funds always counter the wishes of the people, regardless of whether they’re spent on war or domestic programs. If this were not so, taxation would not be a necessary means, as people would freely spend their money accordingly.
On the matter of higher education, she would like public colleges to be tuition free and for the Federal Government to buy all privately held loans. Her campaign site then makes the following prediction: “A policy of debt cancellation could boost real GDP by an average of $86 billion to $108 billion per year. Over the 10-year forecast, the policy generates between $861 billion and $1,083 billion in real GDP (2016 dollars).” This is a specific and bold claim, and is projected over a 10 year period, meaning if it doesn’t pan out, it will be forgotten about while Cortez remains in power. At any rate, let’s look at its origin.
The finding is based on a paper published by the Levy Institute called The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation. The idea is students could use money they presently spend on loan payments on other tangible items such as televisions, cars, etc. The question is of course: isn’t this really just a massive redistribution of resources away from education and into consumer goods? The government’s role, according to the report, is as follows: “The federal government would either purchase and then cancel, or, equivalently, take over the payments on student debt currently held by the private sector. As with the ED’s loans, if the government purchases the privately held loans it can choose to cancel them immediately or as borrowers’ payments come due.” Initially, it may appear as though this strategy would boost GDP. However, it will be absorbed into the overall burden on the economy via the tax bill, inflation, or both. Pretending we can always kick the debt can down the street is how we came to be over $21T in debt. No thanks. In the long run it will destroy economic activity through these distortions.
Finally, we come to climate change. Ocasio-Cortez believes we should have a Green New-Deal, “a transformation that implements structural changes to our political and financial systems in order to alter the trajectory of our environment… We need to avoid a worldwide refugee crisis by waging a war for climate justice through the mobilization of our population and our government.” This is what every climate-denier really fears, that climate change is nothing more than a front for socialists to seize control over the economy. Indeed, many refer to environmentalists as ‘watermelons’, as they appear green on the outside, but are red on the inside.
Libertarians have a method of dealing with pollution while simultaneously upholding free market principles through a strict respect for private property rights. According to an article at FEE, “The pollution problem is fundamentally a property rights problem. Consider it: history’s greatest environmental disasters are defined by the fact that their perpetrators violated others’ property rights without full and proper recompense. The offenders unfairly and coercively impose their costs, those associated with the operations of their businesses.”
Critics will say something like “that’s all good in theory, but the reality is the free market pollutes.” To that, I would invite the reader to consider the opposite is true. The idea that government regulations will protect the environment is the false gospel here. “When environmentalists complain that the government should do more to protect the environment, they seem not to realize that the federal government already holds most of the power and natural resources—that this fact is itself the source of the moral hazard giving rise to the most serious environmental problems.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a sign of what is to come. Millennials have inherited a troubled economy and endless warfare, and are looking for a soft landing. Unfortunately they are looking towards the socialists rather than the capitalists. It would behoove them as well as those in the future to consider that the same government which has mismanaged foreign policy and the economy is also responsible for their education, and their perspective as a result.
In spite of what is taught in schools, the United States has taken on many aspects of central planning over the decades. These include a central bank, public schooling, a progressive income tax, over a century of mismanagement in healthcare, military-industrial complex, prison-industrial complex, and so on. Considering the institution of slavery and the mercantilist system we started with, the capitalist experiment has not been around very long. In the years since, increased interventionism has lead to some pretty dark places, and where we are now. But that is because government interventions have grown more intense over those same decades; it is not a coincidence. Where government reach is, capitalism is not.
For more content from askalibertarian, follow us on the following platforms:
Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.
The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.