It is often observed, and never in a positive way, that even a broken clock is right twice daily. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — our twenty-something bartender-turned-congresswoman-turned-economist/climate scientist — managed to be right twice in the past week, which, while still falling short of an inanimate clock, is still quite an accomplishment for her. But don’t get too excited. On both topics on which she opined, she still managed to demonstrate the sophomoric and moronic (
Still, giving credit where it is due (which one suspects we will not have to do again for quite some time), the Notorious AOC began the week by saying that Americans should not worry about the rise of robots in the workplace. If she had stopped there, she’d basically be correct. Automation is a good thing because it makes the workplace much more productive. Imagine if our economy did not use machines to massively increase output. And if your imagination is not that strong, just look at Mongolia, or any other technologically backwards part of the world that never experienced the Industrial Revolution. Without machines to multiply productivity, economies are trapped in the Middle Ages. So good, bring in the machines, understanding, though, that this means that schools need to train kids to do skilled work, and that our immigration policy really needs to exclude the sorts of people whose jobs are easily replaceable by machines. Otherwise, we’ll just have a perpetual underclass of unemployables.
But at least her opening sentence was right. Automation is a good thing.
Of course, she could not leave it at that. She then rambled on that machines doing all the work for us provides more leisure time (so wait, we won’t have to work at all? They’ll earn money for us?), and about how the reason we are not “excited” about automation in the United States is that “we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.” Which, if it were true, would actually be a really good reason to worry about machines taking jobs! Especially if you’re a Millennial, though that indolent group’s continued existence in large numbers disproves her thesis that the unproductive are left for dead.
No matter. Let’s just give her half credit and move on.
Later in the week, the world awoke to the ghastly news that fifty innocent people had been murdered in New Zealand. As politicians and their social media staff raced to their mobile devices to issue perfunctory “thoughts and prayers” tweets (is there anything more tasteless than publicly tweeting condolences for self-aggrandizement?), she wrote “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?”
She’s absolutely right! Thoughts and prayers don’t help anybody after the fact, except, perhaps, to offer minimal consolation to impossibly grieved family members, who’d be much happier not to have to receive them in the first place. We agree!
What would help to keep the pews safe, and a lot of other places, is if politicians like her would get out of the way and allow people to defend themselves in the event of an active shooter. Even Jesus, who people sit in the pews to learn about, warned his followers to carry a sword, and he was so adamant about it that he even advised those without a sword to sell their cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36).
We can argue all day long about what causes mass murders, but what undeniably enables these things to happen is having large groups of people unable to defend themselves, which is largely a cause of politicians enacting gun control laws that keep people unsafe. In New Zealand, strict gun control laws were enacted following several shootings in the 1990s, which prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying a firearm, unless they apply for a permit upon a showing of “an imminent threat of death,” which, by definition of the word “imminent,” means it is already too late. As a concession, New Zealand provides that VIPs are allowed special police detail in lieu of private guards. Unfortunately, the fifty people who were killed over the weekend were not considered “very important people” by their own government, so they were unprotected.
We will never rid ourselves of murders, but the best way to maximize them is to disarm innocent people, and just hope that the bad people follow suit. And it’s precisely this sort of silly and dangerous naivete that that our heroine Congresswoman favors with all enthusiasm, a resolve which, if anything, has become even more solidified with the New Zealand massacre.
So, my apologies, but if you were looking for some glimmer of hope in this essay, that perhaps Ocasio-Cortez had seen the light or had at least stumbled and banged her head upon some greater truth that had heretofore eluded her, crowded out as it was by the omniscience that bartending had provided, I am sorry to disappoint. There is no reason to believe she has learned anything, even that she has anything to learn, certain as she is of her own inerrancy, reinforced by her ascendancy, and reinforced further by so many people disagreeing with her with whom she knows to disagree. I know I am right because I know them to be wrong!
Perhaps, then, she is not so much like a broken clock which is occasionally right, but rather like the butt end of a compass needle, forever pointing in the opposite direction of true north.