There has already been reason to suspect that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is daydreaming more than usual about creating a socialist utopia in the midst of this crisis. The other day she said on Twitter that the collapse of oil prices was wonderful to see, ignoring the fact that it could mean hundreds of thousands of people will be out of work soon.
AOC quickly pulled down the tweet in question and never really tried to defend the idea massive job losses were good news. But today theres a preview of an interview she did with Vice in which she suggests that maybe, once the crisis is over, people just shouldnt go back to work.
When we talk about this idea of reopening society, you know only in America does the President, when the President tweets about liberation, does he mean go back to work, she said. She added, When we, you know, have this discussion about going back or reopening, I think a lot people should just say no, were not going back to that. Were not going back to working 70-hour weeks just so that we could put food on the table and not even feel any sort of semblance of security in our lives.
The first thing to note here is that AOC is falling back on an old trope that has gotten her in trouble with fact-checkers in the past. Back in 2018 she have an interview to Margaret Hoover on PBS in which she said, Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.
If you look at her statement in the Vice interview (which you can watch below) its very similar. This time she didnt make the claim about working two jobs but the rest of her claim was false as well. Heres Politifact which gave her claim a Pants on Fire rating at the time:
the people who might be working 70 or 80 hours a week amount to a tiny percentage of a tiny percentage 310,000 people at most in a pool of employed Americans totaling more than 150 million.
Its also worth noting that on average, Americans arent working more today than they have been in the recent past. The average number of hours worked in the private sector has hugged tightly to about 34.5 hours a week since 2006, except for a dip during the Great Recession.
So the first thing to note is that AOC is once again talking out of her rear end. The other thing is that its pretty easy for her to call for an impromptu general strike when shes still pulling down $174,000 a year and no one is talking about cutting her salary or laying her off (though it would be great if they did). Seriously, I know she sees herself as a socialist woman of the people but does she not get how tone deaf this sounds to people who just lost jobs and may be wondering what to do next.
And weve only been under this lockdown for about a month so far. What happens if this drags on for another three months or longer and we have unemployment above 25 percent? Telling people not to return to work as some kind of general strike against the system when they are already desperate is delusional. In a few months we may have people with PhDs eager to work for DoorDash if we dont have some already.
The clip below is just a teaser for the full interview which I think is set to air tonight. Im sure the conversation goes on from here and Ill be interested to see what alternative AOC propses to going back to work. Are people just supposed to hold out for $15 an hour or should they demand universal basic income for life? If the former, how will business owners afford that when the economy is in shambles? If the latter, how will the government finance that with so many millions fewer people paying income taxes?
I think we all know the real answer is that she has no idea how any of this is supposed to actually work. She has made a career out of just saying things that resonate with a socialist fringe and thats good enough for television.