On Monday, PJ Media’s Bryan Preston reported that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) campaign invested $1.4 million in political merchandise such as t-shirts with the slogans “AOC,” “Tax the Rich,” and “Fight for our Future.” The campaign paid the political merchandise firm Financial Innovations to create the merchandise, and it remains unclear how much money her campaign makes out of the deal. After this revelation, AOC struggled to explain how her use of the capitalist system to raise money does not dirty her hands in the muck of capitalism, or something.
Former White House press secretary and Newsmax host Sean Spicer noted that AOC is “using capitalism to push socialism.”
AOC shot back, noting that her use of the capitalist system isn’t capitalism because it isn’t eeeevil or something.
“Not sure if you know this Sean, but transactions aren’t capitalism. Capitalism is a system that prioritizes profit at any & all human/enviro cost,” AOC claimed. “But [for what it’s worth,] our shop is unionized, doesn’t operate for profit,& funds projects like free tutoring, food programs,& local organizing.”
Not sure if you know this Sean, but transactions aren’t capitalism.
Capitalism is a system that prioritizes profit at any & all human/enviro cost.
But fwiw our shop is unionized, doesn’t operate for profit,& funds projects like free tutoring, food programs,& local organizing.🌱 https://t.co/RPnMlg0mpS
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 19, 2021
Yet capitalism is not inherently evil. In fact, the beauty of the free-market system is the very fact that it allows producers and entrepreneurs to use their own businesses as they see fit, rather than having their business decisions dictated by the government.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines capitalism as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”
While the profit motive does run capitalism, the free-market system allows businesses to dedicate their proceeds to things other than profit, as well.
Of course, AOC’s insistence that her merchandising store is not capitalist because it does not profit her ignores the fundamental point. Even if AOC’s merchandising is not geared toward profit at all, it is only possible in a free-market system. In fact, her merchandising store cashes in on consumerism, even if all its profit goes toward charitable causes.
In fact, the capitalistic system allows AOC to use the money she makes however she wishes. Unless she is a public company with shareholders (and she is not), she can use her proceeds to help others, to support unions, to invest in sustainability, or whatever. Capitalism allows her to use her proceeds however she wants, and that’s just the way it should be.
Capitalism isn’t just about eeeevil labor-abusive profiteering. The free-market system aims to enrich everyone by fostering trade and rewarding competition and innovation. The system is not perfect — in part because the government is far too involved — but it does foster opportunity, innovation, and wealth. Capitalism has raised billions out of grinding poverty, and it enables AOC’s merchandising store, even though her socialist products demonize the very system that makes them possible in the first place.
By contrast, socialism and communism have resulted in poverty and oppression for the majority, while enriching the rulers and their cronies.
As Bryan Preston noted, Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution made the once-rich Venezuela dirt poor, but Chavez died a near-billionaire. Fidel Castro’s communism broke Cuba but made him a near-billionaire. In the U.S., Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became a millionaire by selling books that demonize capitalism — how ironic!
The economic success of political celebrities like AOC and Bernie Sanders disproves their central argument against capitalism. The free market is not inherently oppressive or exploitative. Unlike socialism and communism, it does not involve the violent silencing of dissidents. Opponents of capitalism do not end up in the gulag or at the firing squad, like so many in Cuba and the Soviet Union did. Opponents of capitalism get rich or use the riches to help others, using the very system they demonize.