Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the flavor of the month among members of the media. She’s the new, fresh face of democratic socialism, the harbinger of the new wave of Leftism among Democrats. She proposes Medicare for all (Bernie Sanders’ last proposed plan along these lines cost an additional $1.4 trillion per year), a federal jobs guarantee, tuition free college for everyone, repealing the First Amendment, abolishing ICE, and government spending to end an oil-based economy. She’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group so radical that their New York branch proposes abolishing profits.
Yet like virtually all American socialists, Ocasio-Cortez has reaped the benefits of capitalism. Her father ran his own construction business; American capitalism allowed him to move her out of a tenement in the Bronx when she was five and into a three-bedroom house in Westchester County. The median annual income in the area is $116,000 per household. She’s worked as a bartender, with the National Hispanic Institute, and created her own publishing house for children; she also worked as an organizer for Bernie Sanders. She was capitalistic enough to apparently grab the lion’s share of tips on Cinco De Mayo 2017, according to The New York Post. And her fans aren’t socialistic enough to forego her lipstick brand, apparently.
This isn’t a shock. Sanders himself has benefited from living in a capitalist country to the tune of three houses. Elizabeth Warren has benefited from capitalism to the tune of at least $3.7 million in net worth; she lives in a house valued at approximately $2 million. Kirsten Gillibrand worked for a law firm and defended Philip Morris to start her career. Capitalism has been quite good to the socialists of the Democratic Party.
Which makes sense, considering that capitalism has been quite good for the democratic socialism of European nations. Nordic socialism was built on the back of Nordic capitalism, as Nima Sanandaji makes clear in his book, Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism. As he wrote at National Review:
A common misconception is that the Nordic countries became socially and economically successful by introducing universal welfare states funded by high taxes. In fact, their economic and social success had already materialized during a period when these countries combined a small public sector with free-market policies. The welfare state was introduced afterward. That the Nordic countries are so successful is due to an exceptional culture that emphasizes social cohesion, hard work, and individual responsibility.
Furthermore, as Sanandaji states, “Nordic-Americans have managed to be much more affluent than their cousins who stayed behind.” Here’s a study on the subject:
There is a reason the prime minister of Denmark stated in 2015 at the Kennedy School of Government, “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear: Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
Capitalism makes countries powerful. Socialism tears them down. Government ownership of the means of production generally fails, and it never builds serious societal wealth over long periods of time. Redistributionism hampers growth, but may re-allocate gains. Ocasio-Cortez can rant about capitalism from her iPhone while wearing her Sephora lipstick, but she should realize that she’s a beneficiary of the capitalism she so despises. It's easy to rip on capitalism's shortcomings while living amidst its benefits.