Being There?

The combination of arrogance and ignorance among darlings of the left can reach stunning levels, and in that respect none can match – though seemingly many try – the dizzying heights regularly achieved by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just days after releasing a “Green New Deal” proposal under which the entire US economy would be reorganized in a time frame and manner that would have caused the late Pol Pot to envy her style, AOC, as she’s called, celebrated the cancellation of Amazon’s plan to build a secondary headquarters in Queens with a tweet excoriating Amazon’s “corporate greed” and its “worker exploitation.”

These are stock phrases for leftists; taken together, they translate loosely as “the characteristics of a private enterprise that hasn’t given in to my demands”.  By definition any corporation can be cast as greedy, so there isn’t much substance to that part of AOC’s charge against Amazon, but the second part of her alleged reason for disliking the company bears closer examination.

What does it mean to accuse a prospective employer of 25,000 people in your city (with projected median compensation packages of $150,000 per year) with “worker exploitation”? Does she think that those people will be happier if they don’t get jobs at Amazon?

Given that our nation is still relatively free (at least until the enactment of AOC’s “Green New Deal”), for any prospective employee to agree to be hired, he or she has to want the job that is being offered. Accepting such a job offer doesn’t make him (or her) an exploited worker, it makes him better off than he would otherwise be – at least in his own mind, otherwise he wouldn’t take the job.

By chasing Amazon off, AOC and her ilk have therefore deprived 25,000 New Yorkers of the opportunity to better their lots through their own freely made choices. She isn’t protecting workers, she’s keeping a company from offering jobs, and her constituents from accepting them. How, exactly, is that helping them?

I’m not arguing that the Amazon deal was necessarily good for the city as a whole – weighing the cost of the $3 billion in foregone taxes that the city was offering against the benefits of increased sales and income taxes and the general benefits of increasing the city’s employment base and its critical mass of tech industry activity is something that I would have to think long and hard about if I were the Mayor or the Governor. But even if it was a bad deal for the city, it’s darn-near impossible for anyone to argue that Amazon’s prospective workers were better off unemployed or in jobs they would have happily traded for ones at Amazon.

AOC’s tweet implies that she knows better than all those would-be Amazon hires what’s good for them. And that, dear reader, is a pristine example of the arrogance at the heart of progressivism. Progressives would have us believe that people in government – particularly if they are leftists –  know better than we do what we should want for ourselves.

(The very same astounding arrogance is frequently employed to try to make consumers feel guilty about how the products they buy are produced. How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t buy something because its manufacturer exploits workers according to the terms some union would like to set, or in some third world country? Have you considered that the allegedly “exploited” workers wanted those jobs because taking them improved their lives, and that if you boycott their products they’ll almost certainly have to get by in some fashion more difficult for them? What right have you and I to judge what’s in the best interest of somebody who wants to take a job?)


Ok, so I’ve established the arrogance of AOC’s bloviations; what about the ignorance to which I claim it’s married?

I don’t think the new congresswoman has the first clue about the meanings or implications of the stock phrases she uses to stir her supporters’ loving hearts. She’s like the tragicomic character Chance played by Peter Sellers in the great movie Being There, a well-meaning simpleton whose stock phrases from his previous life as a gardener – in her case as college student then a bartender in hipsterland – propel a meteoric rise through the political firmament because his (or in this case, her) words sound profound when filtered through the lens of an adoring and ignorant media.  

She prattles on about topics about which she knows nothing, and with which she has no experience – the US budget, economics generally, foreign policy, science, you name it – expressing her “thoughts” in phrases and sentences that are blissfully bereft of facts or logic, but which sound heartfelt and, to a certain audience, profound, looking good all the while. The cameras and her adoring followers eat it all up.

And I think that’s the charitable view of the young congresswoman, because the alternative in my mind to her being a simpleton is that she’s a manipulative proto-fascist, maniacally seeking power over our lives.      

M.H. Johnston

P.S., After writing this post, I saw an article ( in which significant responsibility for Amazon’s decision to pull out of the deal was laid at the feet of AOC by Amazon’s spokesperson. No surprise, really.

3 comments to Being There?

  • Doug McCaig  says:

    Good stuff. Crazy electorate. Damn you Bert! You know I have two hogs!

  • Ronald Davenport  says:

    I wonder. Could the same be said about tariffs? That trade wars are easy to win? Can the same be applied to the soy bean farmers — should they merely “choose” to plant a different crop? And as to ignorance, US intelligence agencies are not to be believed (the Russians didn’t interfere with the 2016 elections because Putin said they didn’t; the Saudis didn’t murder Khashoggi because MBS said they didn’t; the North Koreans are dismantling their nuclear program), climate change doesn’t exist and is a hoax therefore we should do nothing about it, tax cuts pay for themselves, etc.
    The biggest issue that I have with President Trump isn’t his destructiveness and willingness to shake things up. My concern is the plan for what comes next and what happens after he leaves office, whether in 2 or 6 years. Speaker Rayburn said any jackass can knock down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one. I’ll admit that I’m biased, but I’m not seeing the greater wider plans for re-building the barns that are being knocked down. Am I missing something?

  • Anonymous  says:

    There’s no truth to the rumor that Jeff Bezos pulled out of the NYC deal because the huge real estate value increases would have benefited David Pecker. AOC and Gianaris are pawns in a money game the mayor and governor can only glimpse at, and failed to deliver on. Ford told NYC to drop dead, and it didn’t. NYC is bigger than Amazon but it’s a great loss and portent of things to come in a politically righteous reality.

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