It’s a sign of a slow news week when most of the big political headlines are coming out of the SXSW festival. Still, the Democrats’ 2020 hopefuls, along with some of their “rising superstars” all made their way to the event to show the country that they can hang with the cool kids. This included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose on-stage appearance reportedly drew lines of attendees that stretched around the facility.
AOC had plenty to say as usual and the topics she touched on ran the gamut. One of the more puzzling moments came when she was asked to comment on the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, specifically how that would impact lower-skill jobs and minimum wage earners. The freshman congresswoman probably shocked the crowd when she decided not to take the usual route of supporting the unions and instead said everyone should be excited about automation freeing up people from the drudgery of labor. Her reasoning, however, veered off the beam rather quickly. This report comes to us from our colleague Beth Baumann at Townhall. (Emphasis added)
“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work,” she said, The Verge reported. “We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.”…
“We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in,” she said. “Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage.”
I see. We shouldn’t need to worry about automation displacing lower-skill, minimum wage jobs because that would give people all sorts of free time to enjoy the world we live in. And the real problem we need to be focusing on is this fixation society has with people having to work in order to support themselves.
Isn’t this yet another example of the Democratic Socialist mantra about the government’s responsibility to support those who are “unwilling to work?” (We should note that even real socialists don’t believe that. The government wants them to work and contribute according to their ability.) This vision that AOC is foisting on her adoring fans sounds suspiciously like the Eloi in H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. The beautiful people live a life of luxury, eating the fruits of the garden and dancing and laughing… at least until the sirens blow and the Morlocks show up to eat them.
As Beth aptly points out at length in her column, this sort of utopian dreaming probably sounds appealing to certain groups of people, but it’s the antithesis of the principles of a democratic republic such as ours. People are given an equal opportunity to work and to thrive, succeeding by accessing the rewards of their own labor. Those facing the most dire straits and challenges can count on the social safety net to meet their minimum needs until they can support themselves again, but if it’s too easy to ride in the cart, there soon will be too few people left to pull it.
Doing things like advancing your education, “enjoying the world” and even going to space (eventually) are the sorts of activities you get to enjoy in your leisure time because you put in the work and planned ahead to afford such luxuries yourself. The government can’t just provide all of that to everyone if they are able but unwilling to contribute to the total national productivity.
This is what apparently passes for political philosophy on the left these days. And if you elect enough representatives who believe in such things, you may soon live to find out how well it worked out for the Eloi. Pro Tip: When the sirens go off, make sure you’re standing next to somebody that’s rather chubby and slow. Remember… you don’t have to outrun the Morlock. You only have to outrun your friend.