This is a moldy argument also used by writer Annie Lowrey in a much-cited article in The Atlantic last year titled “Jeff Bezos’ $150 billion fortune is a policy failure.” Lowrey argued that Amazon is able to succeed because the government “ameliorates the effects of poverty wages with policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” But this reasoning ignores the economic and business reality that if you are going to have a private sector, then private firms simply aren’t going to hire workers at a wage more than they are worth to the firm. It also ignores the fact that the Earned Income Tax Credit is a government benefit that promotes work and boosts living standards. And if Medicaid benefits corporations at the taxpayer’s expense, then it’s strange that leftists like Ocasio-Cortez don’t view Medicare-for-all — which would let employers completely off the hook for health coverage — as a massive subsidy to business.
Another thing: Do populist progressives and democratic socialists have a plan to deal with the massive fortunes of multibillionaire entrepreneurs like Bezos or the Google guys, Sergey Brin and Larry Page? Should they be forced to sell their shares? If so, how many and at what price? And who could buy them? Are there any concerns about how that would impact corporate governance at America’s most innovative and profitable firms? Or will DARPA pick up the innovation slack? Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez also complained that too many smart people are making apps rather than working for NASA. Apparently all the thousands of smart people working at Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Bezos’s Blue Origin don’t count. Someone might also want to mention to Ocasio-Cortez that amid this bounty of billionaires, the poor have grown fewer. Using 1980 living standards, the consumption poverty rate — one looking at all the resources households have, including some government aid — has plummeted to 2.8 percent in 2017 from 13.0 percent in 1980.