Jason D. Hill, Yet another socialist tries to explain the purpose of business.
Americans spoke loud and clear when Bernie Sanders and his brand of socialism were defeated in the Democratic primaries. They said no to socialism and all that was promised with it. Socialism is just not in our political DNA, Americans pointed out. Even those who voted for Joe Biden thought they were electing a liberal centrist; someone closer to near-fiscal conservatives, rather than rapacious, wealth-appropriating socialists. They might be wrong. But I think that they rejected socialism when they voted against Bernie Sanders.
Yet here is that naïve activist masquerading as a politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, making a crass and abrasive demand for socialism by attacking a symbol of the free market: Amazon. Last week, AOC came out in a series of incendiary attacks against Amazon, accusing the company of providing sham jobs for workers because it left them homeless. In a series of tweets on Twitter, AOC referenced a Bloomberg News article which reported that more than 4,000 Amazon employees are on food stamps.
AOC immediately tweeted: “A Job that leaves you homeless & on food stamps isn’t a job. It’s a scam.” She further went on to state that Amazon’s jobs are a “scam” because they’re not creating financial security for workers.
Mixing categories in a way that first year students of logic would not, AOC went on to state: “This is why “Amazon jobs” aren’t it & we should instead focus our public investments + incentives on small businesses, public infrastructure, & worker cooperatives that actually support dignified life.”
AOC is not as smart as she thinks she is in trying to pull off her socialist agenda by declaring that the purpose of business is to provide job security, and that jobs cause people to go homeless and a need to apply for food stamps. She is not as smart as she thinks she is for the simple reason that the average Americans are not as dumb as she assumes they are.
To begin with, as Amazon reported, massive amounts of people in retail leave their part-time and full-time jobs with no health benefits and low wages to join Amazon’s $15-an-hour wage employment opportunities. Retail has yet to catch up with Amazon’s pay rate.
This is beside the point, though. AOC is either a liar or just plain ignorant of basic economic facts. There is not any job on earth that has ever left a human being homeless. Not one. Paying jobs are not the kind of phenomena that yield such dastardly consequences. Paying jobs do not force people to go on food stamps either.
Why do people with paying jobs end up homeless, or on food stamps? To answer such questions, one would have to look at the fiscal profiles of such individuals prior to their employment, and their fiscal behavior during their tenure on the job.
Overall, the question should be: how does one appraise the fiscal health of a person? We ought to ask questions such as: was the individual heavily indebted prior to being employed? Did such a person incur more debt while employed? Is such a person living within his income means, and if not, how can he adjust his lifestyle to ensure that he is? (One may need to have several roommates instead of being a single renter, for example.) Does this person have more children than he can care for financially? In other words, if you are attempting to pass your procreative choices onto society rather than assume the responsibility for yourself, you may have been incentivized to have more children than you can afford, and you may well end up having a need for food stamps.
The bigger questions which may seem old hat to many readers but which need to be reiterated once AOC and her ilk insist on foisting a socialist agenda on the United States are as follows: Are corporations created fundamentally as social entrepreneurial enterprises to guarantee job security among its workers? Can they even do this? To even suggest that a businessman or -woman creates a business plan and assumes the enormous risk of starting a business to relive the financial burdens of potential workers is so stupid and economically unsound, that only the most cranially-challenged of village idiots could entertain this thought.
It is putatively obvious that businesses are in the business of, first and foremost, making money. They need to increase the value of their shareholders’ stock investments. The unconscionable lip service coming out of the mouths of CEOs and their ghastly public relations personnel who declare that shareholder theory is old-fashioned and no longer relevant, and that social entrepreneurship is the ruling principle governing the ethos and business philosophy of today’s corporations and businesses, are empirically untenable. They are the Marxist-suffused, politically-correct canards taught to them by their left-wing instructors in the humanities who teach many of today’s business ethics courses.
No investor or venture capitalist wants to hear his profits went to fund a social program for the dropouts from the dropouts program of an inner-city high school program unless they (somehow) yield a profit on his or her investments.
So long as AOC and her socialist cabal induce guilt and shame in businesspeople by having them feel that they are responsible for the fiscal failures of their employees, they will win by default and, unfortunately, assume the moral high ground. Any gainfully-employed person, especially a low-skilled laborer, should feel gratitude for being employed.
It is not Amazon’s or any other corporation’s fault that people are on food stamps. The collusion between government and business, of course, only advances the socialist agenda. Were there no vestiges of the welfare state replete with food stamps for the working poor, AOC would be defanged of her moralistic rhetoric. She would have little authority to indict Amazon or any other business enterprise for the simple reason that it is the welfare state’s mere existence that gives her both a de jure and de facto sense of moral credibility and legitimacy in invoking her absurd claims. If there were no welfare state and each person were taught that he or she is responsible for his or her fate and destiny, then AOC could not infantilize workers and refer to them as the helpless victims of big corporations.
Actually, she might be reminded of the words of the great Ludwig Von Mises, whose caustic words to workers who thought they were victims of the evil businessman read as follows: “You are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.”
If gainful employment at Amazon causes homelessness and a need for food stamps for persons employed there, then perhaps Jeff Bezos should close his operations for a month and suspend payments for that period. If we take the inverse and perverted logic of AOC to its logical conclusion, then, that should solve the problem, correct?
No, we know it would not. But in the spirit of Von Mises, thank goodness we recognize AOC’s cognitive inferiority, and we are grateful for the cognitive superiority of those men and women on whose thinking she will unknowingly rely on, and that will save her from the fatalistic consequences of her abject irrationality.
Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago, and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. His areas of specialization include ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy and American politics. He is the author of several books, including We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People (Bombardier Books/Post Hill Press). Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.