The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez effect

Published 1:12 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019


I have to laugh when I hear old, white male conservatives get bent out of shape when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) speaks. For someone who has been in Congress for less than four months, she certainly has had an effect on that group. I think she haunts the nightmares of the right because she is a smart, outspoken Latina who is also a democratic socialist. Peter Kapuscinski in his letter “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Capitalism” has trouble understanding what she says. I will help him out.

He said he doesn’t understand the term “ideology of capital.” He could have gone to Wikipedia and looked up the definition: Ideologies of capitalism are the various economic and political ideologies within capitalist society that implicitly or explicitly advocate certain forms of capitalism. This may include support for forms from laissez-faire to welfare capitalism.

Email newsletter signup

The “concentration of capital” that Kapuscinski has trouble understanding is the inevitable result of unregulated capitalism. The benefits of capitalism are based upon competition; that is producing better goods and services at lower costs. However, there is a natural tendency by business to increase profits by stifling competition in forming aggregations of related businesses or monopolies. Economic power shifts to fewer and fewer companies controlled by fewer and fewer owners. The result is that a small number of rich people (the 1 percent) using their wealth to control government so that not only do they stay wealthy but increase their wealth at the expense of everyone else.

Kapuscinski also makes the common mistake of equating government with business. Government is less efficient in how it works because its purpose is to deliver services to where it’s needed. Capitalism’s goal is to make a profit. Nobody starts a business to create jobs. Jobs and related economic benefits are a byproduct of economic activity not its goal. Therefore, the Postal Service delivers to rural routes at a loss while a for profit business either would not deliver or charge an outrageous amount. The Veteran Administration hospitals purpose is to provide medical care to veterans who cannot pay for those services. It’s part of a contract between the military and the government. If you suffer from medical problems because of your military service, the government is obligated to take care of them regardless of cost.

It appears to me that it is Kapuscinski not AOC who needs to brush up on economics. I suggest he read Saving Capitalism for the Many not the Few by Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

James Peca