When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t busy trying to sell her Green New Deal, she’s making waves on Twitter for out-of-touch charades.
Just before Valentine’s Day, Ocasio-Cortez shared a photo depicting men and women sitting or standing in line outside a House committee meeting. She explained that when she asked her staff if they were people demonstrating after a hearing about the homeless, she was told they were just people who got paid by lobbyists to hold their place. “The first few people in line are guaranteed a seat in a given hearing,” she explained. And, in many cases, the people doing the job are homeless.
To the newcomer from New York, this scene was too horrific to be true.
“Apparently,” she told her Twitter followers, “this is a normal practice, and people don’t bat an eye.”
We Are Free to Accept Any Job, Whether Lawmakers Like It or Not
Unfortunately, it didn’t cross the privileged lawmaker’s mind that, perhaps, this type of exchange is beneficial to those in line. After all, they accepted to stand in for a lobbyist in exchange for money whereas they could be outside in the cold otherwise, making no money or having to beg for change.
To Ocasio-Cortez, the fact that rich lobbyists representing the marijuana industry were employing the poor so they could get in the next hearing was wrong, and the fact that nobody said a word about it made people cruel, cold, and heartless bastards. “Poor homeless people,” she must have thought. “Exploited by this capitalist system because they need money to eat!”
Oh, the horror.
To someone like Ocasio-Cortez, there is such a thing as undignified work. And paying someone to hold a place in line is just the type of thing that should be outright banned. After all, how dare someone in need of cash accept a gig like this?
Much like lawmakers hell-bent on increasing the minimum wage, Ocasio-Cortez acts as if it’s absolutely necessary that we keep people in need and without any skills from getting a job. After all, imposing restrictions on how much a potential employer can pay also restricts the number of people one can hire. Those who end up getting the job are people who already have experience, while others who were willing to do the job for less to acquire new skills are left empty-handed, completely penniless.
If we know anything about how these lawmakers operate, we can expect that the next step for Ocasio-Cortez and her buddies will be to create a huge buzz around this “problem.” Then, she will come up with a “solution” that will include restrictions on what kind of transactions may involve payment. In no time, she will get the backing of important Democratic legislators as well as a few Republicans hoping to get props from the media for pretending to think about the homeless.
In the end, she might even be able to target other exploited figures dropping their 9-to-5 jobs so they can hold people’s place in lines for shows, store openings, or other major events in cities like her own New York. Hey, with Ocasio-Cortez’s influence, she might even be able to ban gigs like street vending or car-window cleaning, or even sites like Fiverr, which have literally given the homeless access to a world of opportunities that one might consider “undignified” work.
But maybe, if, by a stroke of luck, Ocasio-Cortez realized the problem with the picture she shared was not that the poor were doing what they could to make a clean buck but the fact that there’s a system in place that enables the existence of lobbying agencies, we might hear her condemning the government itself.
As an institution, the state exists as a dealer. It offers those with the most cash to spend on legislators and lobbyists the opportunity to dictate legislation.
Minimum wage legislation, for instance, is the type of policy championed by major industry players who can afford to hire more people for more money. And it’s precisely this type of policy that keeps competitors from being able to enter the market. Why wouldn’t major corporations lobby for higher wage mandates?
If Ocasio-Cortez were really all about helping the little guy, she would be stripping power from the state so it would no longer be able to dictate work and pay rates, giving willing workers and employers the freedom to better serve each other — and themselves — in the process.