February 21, 2019
Redistribution: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says billionaires are immoral. She also thinks the U.S. should be more like Sweden and Norway. So she wants more billionaires here?
Democrats have recently discovered a new threat to the American way of life: billionaires.
An interviewer recently asked socialist Ocasio-Cortez: "Do we live in a moral world that allows for billionaires? Is that a moral outcome?"
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Billionaires Are Immoral
Her answer: "No, it's not. It's not. It's not. And I think it's important to say that."
Her policy advisor, Dan Riffle, said that "every billionaire is a policy failure."
Not to be outdone, fellow socialist and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders complained that "We live in a nation owned and controlled by a small number of multibillionaires whose greed, incredible greed, insatiable greed, is having an unbelievably negative impact on the fabric of our entire country."
Elizabeth Warren calls billionaires "freeloaders" who don't "pick up their fair share."
She's urged Democrats to eschew them as candidates and campaign contributors. "This is a moment for all of the Democratic nominees, as they come into the race, to say … no to the billionaires. No to the billionaires."
Let's leave aside the fact that <b>a substantial portion of the 530 or so billionaires in the country are liberals</b>. These include Mark Cuban, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl
Sandberg, Marc Benioff, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Tom Steyer, David Geffen, Sumner Redstone, Laureen Powell Jobs, Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz.
They Give Generously To Dems
A few years ago, the liberal-leaning fact-checking site PolitiFact looked at political donations by U.S. billionaires. Of the 100 biggest donors to outside spending groups, it found, 22 were billionaires. "Of those 22 billionaires, 13 — or more than half — gave predominantly to liberal groups or groups affiliated with the Democratic Party."
When these top Democrats aren't railing against billionaires in the U.S., they are extolling the virtues of allegedly socialist countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
Not too long ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in defending herself against the charge that her policies would turn the U.S. into a Venezuela-like hell hole of deprivation and dictatorship, said: "What we have in mind — and what of my — and my policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden."
During his last run for president, Bernie Sanders often said he yearned to make the U.S. more like those countries. In a debate with Hillary Clinton, he declared that: "We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished."
They're Plentiful In 'Socialist' Paradises
Turns out these countries do have something to teach the U.S. — namely, how to produce billionaires.
An Op-Ed in, of all places, the New York Times notes that <b>Sweden and Norway have more billionaires per capita than the U.S.</b> Finland and Denmark have only
slightly fewer. In fact, the U.S. comes in 10th place on this list, according to the author of that piece, Will Wilkinson.
"If there are billionaires in all the places where people flourish best, why think getting rid of them will make things go better?" he asks.
Wilkinson goes on to note that most of the world's richest got that way by making other people's lives better.
"Innovators capture about 2% of the economic value they create," he writes.
"The rest of it accrues to consumers. Whatever that is, it's not a raw deal."
We can hear the response from the likes of Ocasio-Cortez now. Yes, those countries have billionaires, but they also have lower rates of income disparity and more wealth distribution.
Maybe so. But those countries are also relatively tiny and almost entirely homogeneous. Sweden, Norway and Finland, in fact, are among the least diverse nations in the world. (Parents even must pick from a list of government-approved baby names.)
They also don't have uneducated immigrants pouring across their border. And they spend almost nothing on defense, which makes it far easier to finance generous public benefits.
Not A Good Economic Strategy
What's more, those countries are moving away from their welfare-state pasts toward freer and more open economies. As we noted in this space, they have things like lower corporate taxes, partially privatized social security, school choice, and minimal if any minimum-wage laws. And they rank higher than the U.S. on economic freedom indexes.
Bashing billionaires might excite the people who tend to vote in Democratic primaries. But <b>stoking class envy won't lead to good economic policies. And it won't make the country more prosperous.</b>
Just ask the folks in Sweden and Norway.