How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Misunderstands American Poverty

Authored by Andrew Moran via,

Democratic socialism is in the news again. Following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning victory, helping her become a darling of the mainstream media, Americans are becoming interested in democratic socialism again – a philosophy that involves voting to steal your stuff. Two key planks of democratic socialism are to rail against the rich and promise everything for free, which then leads to the next question: Who’s going to pay for all that free stuff?

Building upon her national spotlight, Ocasio-Cortez recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss her political brand and a wide array of issues important to her and socialists everywhere. But there was one moment in the interview that opened a can of worms.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She told the alleged comedian:

“For me, democratic socialism is about - really, the value for me is that I believe that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.

I think that no person should be homeless. If we can have public structures and public policy to allow for people to have homes and food and lead a dignified life in the United States.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who may have the right intentions, which is the most dangerous type of politician, suggested two interesting things: The poor are destitute, and poverty can be cured with even more government.

Let’s explore further.


There are three points that the left likes to make: the poor are getting poorer, the U.S. has the highest childhood poverty rate, and 32 million Americans are impoverished – higher than when the first bullet in the War on Poverty was fired.

How dare the U.S. create such horrific conditions that are reminiscent of Charles Dickens novels.

If you’re indigent in the U.S., then you’re better off than most people in the world. A hipster sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt and drinking a Starbucks latte would scoff at this assertion, but it is the truth.

Income inequality is a myth, while income mobility is still a thing. Yes, it is true that the top 1% are getting richer, but the poor and middle-class are becoming prosperous, too. Why is this a debated fact? The problem is with how the data is compiled and analyzed.

Welfare recipients standing in line for benefits

When we study Census Bureau data or any other information emanating from the government, we simply compare rich Americans to poor Americans in one year and the next. The better route is to examine the data over an extended period. When you do, the bottom 20% witness their incomes rise, and most Americans will see their income status change throughout the years – half of the country will be in the top 10% of incomes for at least one year, while two-thirds of Americans will park themselves in the top 20% for at least two years.

Now, are American children worse off than Asian and European kids? Not quite. When Sanders and others make that claim, it can easily be disputed if you take a look at Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures. The U.S. is ahead of Russia, Israel, China, Spain, and several others – Denmark and Finland have the lowest.

But how could the biggest economy in the world not eradicate poverty for both adults and children?

Well, perhaps it is time to examine what being poor in America is like compared to other places.

It is correct to state that the U.S. has a higher poverty rate than other developed nations. However, the American poor have higher median incomes than in other countries, and the poverty income in the U.S. matches the median income in Spain, the U.K., and Japan. Plus, American living standards are higher for the poor than the impecunious residing in the U.K., New Zealand, France, and Japan.

Let’s look at what it’s really like to be poor in the Land of the Free:

  • 80% have air conditioning.

  • 94% have Internet access.

  • 75% have an automobile – a third have two or more vehicles.

  • Half of poor families have a video game system.

  • 66% have cable television.

What about the basic essentials, like food and housing? That’s easy enough:

  • 83% of poor households reported having enough to eat.

  • 96% of underprivileged families reported their children were never hungry at any time.

  • 42% of poor households own their homes.

Moreover, the average poor American has more living space than the average middle- or high-income person in the U.K., France, and Sweden. Also, consumption of vitamins and minerals is the same as the those in the wealthier brackets.

Should an American fall on hard times, they have access to a generous welfare system, paid for by the capitalist model. Despite claims that the U.S. allows the impecunious to perish on the streets or starve in their homes, the government has spent trillions of dollars over the last 50 years on entitlements, healthcare, and social-benefits programs that can easily surpass those of Scandinavian states.

The rectitude and efficacy of welfare can be debated, but the government gives citizens money to purchase unhealthy food and smartphones – and a basic income guarantee is all but inevitable. That’s how wealthy the U.S. is.


Cheaper consumer goods, generous welfare benefits, and the luxury to be ungrateful.

All of this is brought to you by the free-enterprise system. From automobiles to technology to apparel, the country’s purchasing power, despite the debasement of the Federal Reserve Note, is quite strong. Technological innovations, lower production costs, and global trade have given the poor greater access to goods and services that may have only been reserved for the most prosperous many years ago.

The modern U.S. household – rich and poor – enjoys many conveniences and luxuries that have raised their standard of living. This is why we are working less and have more leisure time than ever before.

Indeed, no one is immune to financial hardship. There will be those who endure the wrath of the world. That said, much of what democratic socialists espouse exaggerates the data and presents the country in a negative light to achieve the objective of attaining power. The U.S. has its problems – the central banking system, a ballooning national debt, bureaucracy, and a disastrous foreign policy – but it is still better to be poor in America than anywhere else in the world.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, we implore you to ask yourself these two questions: would you rather be rich in the U.S. 100 years ago or poor today? Would you prefer to be rich in Mexico or impoverished in the U.S.?


Chupacabra-322 Canadian Dirtlump Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:24 Permalink

@ Canadian,


One can only wonder if she’s familiar or can explain what the Bolshevik Revolution was.

Little does this Marxist understand she’s being led down a Zionist road and advocating a Zionist Policy of Open Boarders which supports the Yinon Plan.

The Yinon Plan along with Pro Zionist immigrantion policy of migrating Muslim’s &  Arabs out of Israel & to the EU & US.  Pro migration policy which supports territory boarder expansion via the Yinon Plan & ethnic cleansing & migration of Arabs & Muslim’s. 

In essence, the exact policy of Open Boarders she advocates for is systematically killing the exact same Palestinian people who are being forced from their lands via Israel’s War Criminal territory expansions (See Yinon Plan) throughout the decades.


In reply to by Canadian Dirtlump

FireBrander 847328_3527 Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:09 Permalink

How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could/will destroy the Democratic Party...


She's queen in America's shit-holes, but outside of those sewers, she's pure political poison!


Who votes for this nutjob?

Republicans? LOL...nope.

"Lessor of Evils" voters...nope.

Southern/Reagan Democrats....nope.

All that's left is the 100% D cultists...that's maybe 20% of the party...YIKES! Just watch, the D establishment is going to bury this nut as deep as possible...I will be stunned if that guy she beat doesn't go "3rd party", split the vote, and give the win to the R candidate just to stop Cortez in her tracks.

In reply to by 847328_3527

any_mouse FireBrander Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:19 Permalink

She isn't confused. She is right on her script.

Big government benefits the Parasites. JPMorgan, Junk food manufacturers, Waltons, et al., they benefit handsomely from the unwinnable War on Poverty.

The Welfare Industrial Complex. They even call one of the programs "WIC". Real sense of humor.

What the Parasites want, the Parasites get.

If the current form of government was not profitable, the Parasites would hold a constitutional convention and overthrow the current form, then reboot into a more profitable form of government. They did that once already.

The American Nightmare.

In reply to by FireBrander

scubapro FireBrander Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:48 Permalink


thank gerry-mandering for her ability to get elected.    we now have nut jobs on both the far right and left as a result.

to win a primary you have to 'out-right' the right wing or 'out-left' the left side....and the districts are drawn so that one party essentially wins all the time, but now with more extreme outcomes.


there are some areas experimenting with 'top 3-4 candidates go to the general election type which could allow a middle of the road person to draw votes from both sides and beat out the extremists who get elected today.  but it appears to need to get totally worse before it gets better...maybe throw in an econ crisis or something too to really get more than 40% of voters to show up

In reply to by FireBrander

css1971 847328_3527 Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:32 Permalink

But how could the biggest economy in the world not eradicate poverty for both adults and children?

FWIW, markets don't work unless someone is unwilling or unable to pay for something. If everyone is both willing and able to pay, prices just continue increasing.


So, markets enforce poverty. You can't have market price discovery without poverty, and poverty will continue to exist while markets do.


Having said that, all attempts so far to eradicate markets and market price discovery have resulted in misery and death on an epic scale.



In reply to by 847328_3527

SybilDefense TheDude1224 Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:04 Permalink

Her political motto "Eat more, think less"

I get the ideal. Prosperity should be achievable for all.  It must be achieved, and not granted or it has zero value.  People do not value anything that is "Free".  Free money gets wasted, earned money is saved, spent and or invested. In my experience in the dental field,  Free dentures never fit.  $3000 dentures are the best ever.  Same product, different mindset.

The goal is correct, the modality is wrong.  If she is able to become educated and logical, she perhaps can achieve her goals through the GOP platform.  #walkaway

Give a man a fish/teach a man to fish = a stinky guy, but only one will develop values.

In reply to by TheDude1224

hedgeless_horseman Free This Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:33 Permalink


By and large, big government is a jobs program and get rich slowly scheme for government workers.

DMV clerks. 



Career soldiers. 

Postal workers. 


These people are seldom, if ever, our best and brightest coming out of school, the bottom 25%, but yet they now receive the best salaries, healthcare, and pensions.

As of 2010, a Congressional Budget Office report estimated that the average active duty soldier receives an average $99,000 per year in compensation that includes pay and benefits, with 60 percent of the total being non-cash compensation. As an example, the Army website broke down the annual $29,380 compensation of a military police sergeant into $29,380 for salary, $16,164 for housing, $3,900 for food allowances, $1,800 for special pay, and tax advantages of $2,716. An example of tax savings are the allowances for food and housing, which are typically exempt from both federal and states taxes


In reply to by Free This

NumberNone skeelos Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:23 Permalink

Communism is a quickest way to flip the apple cart against the current ruling class with a disgruntled populace.  No plan, no agenda...just promise to take away and give to the envious poor.  

This is why they always fail and always have to kill all those that oppose them so there is no going back.  

In reply to by skeelos

NumberNone 847328_3527 Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:55 Permalink

Government workers get paid retirement based upon their last couple years and highest salaries.  Spoke to a government employee that says everyone in her agency 'moves' to a shared apartment in San Francisco the last couple years so that they get the massive cost of living increase to bump their retirement payout.  Good for them, bad for the taxpayer. 

In reply to by 847328_3527

any_mouse hedgeless_horseman Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:31 Permalink

You are focusing on the wrong people.

Focus on the Parasites, the 0.0001% that hold 90+% of the wealth. They are the invasive species. They are the root cause that creates all of the problems. They created government, banking, corporations, mass media.

We are not allowed to know who they are, nor are we allowed to criticize them.

Americans cannot sell raw milk, but Monsanto's GMO foods were fast tracked and given a free pass through the regulatory process.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Entertaining1 any_mouse Thu, 07/19/2018 - 13:36 Permalink

Ding, ding, ding.  We have a winning mouse.

If Hedgies really think the problems in America are from the poors, not your betters and your bosses, you have learned nothing.  And likely, nor shall you. 

Compared to my grandfather, I make way less than he did at my age in 1948.  We've been losing ground for a long time--and it ain't because of the homeless or the Venezuelans.  The people you should save your ire for sign your paycheck.   

But, if you're like me, you should be mad at yourself.  I've never helped organize my colleagues for better conditions, but my grandfather did.  


In reply to by any_mouse

scubapro hedgeless_horseman Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:57 Permalink

indeed.   teachers dont make much but the schedule is idyllic.    throw on top of it that the rest of us need to revere anyone in uniform and offer them discounts/better pricing for services.


this article is rife with inaccuracies though.   denmark is the 'lowest' what???


there are plenty of benes for very poor, but the middle and lower middle classes (family of 4 making 60-120k/yr)  get no benes/discounts supplements.   they are the tax donkeys.  the high income pay too, but their standard of living doesnt really change, whereas working middle class people feel every $100/mo fluctuation in take home pay.   it is disheartening to have 35% of every marginal $ earned be sent to DC (self-employed).    

flat tax of 6%; and national sales/consumption tax  and eliminate the entire tax code.  that would be like 12% of all income rec'd and is about right, imo, for what govt should cost.   then reduce govt spending to match the revenues...byebye global polic force and living on social sec for 25 years (age adjustment badly needed as when establ the idea was if you couldnt physically work, not part of your retirement plan.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

GunnyG hedgeless_horseman Thu, 07/19/2018 - 12:40 Permalink

"average active duty soldier receives an average $99,000 per year in compensation."

That is 100% PURE bullshit. With a wife and two kids, as a SSgt, E-6, I made 36,000 a year and paid taxes on that. 99K a year? hahaha. Yeah, fuck you. 

BTW, on that list only two occupations are allowed for in the Constitution and that is military and postal workers.  

I had an AA Degree going in and got my BA on active duty. Had a kid with a Master's in Economics. Many of the people in the USMC have some college if not a degree. Every officer in the USMC has a degree and more than a few have a MA/MS. Fact are a pesky thing, I know.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Yukon Cornholius hedgeless_horseman Thu, 07/19/2018 - 12:55 Permalink

A little American history will help put this in perspective.

As the civil rights movement and the great society policies came to fruition, and the war in ‘Nam concluded, the American power structure realized it was going to have a big problem trying to keep the Blacks in check. Blacks were there to stay and so a strategy was developed to keep them from tearing the mothafucka up. It was a three-pronged strategy that ran from the 70s through to the 90s.

1) Decrease the threshold for mental retardation from 85 to 70. This simple measure would mean more black men could be convicted of crimes and thrown in (private) prison rather than federal/state/local mental facilities. Pumping drugs into black communities would ensure a steady supply of clients for the PIC.

2) Any capable young black person coming out of highschool was given a gubmint job. DMV, courthouses, city hall, parking enforcement, food inspection, etc etc etc. Get them in the system and voting for a system that would keep them quiet, fat and happy. 

3) Create the illusion of a Black Middle Class that is accepted by whites. Hollywood gave us The Huxtables, the Urkels, and the Fresh Prince. On the flip side of the entertainment coin came gold-clad rappers, and even worse, gangsta-rappers. If rappers were decked out in gold, it mustn’t be an item a respectable white person should have. Ever see the Cos or Uncle Phil sporting bling? Notice the names behind most of the talent. Rubin, Heller, Horowitz. And their target audience was who? Young whites, particularly young, white males. 

Democrats started out hating blacks and never quit. 

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Whoa Dammit Chupacabra-322 Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:36 Permalink

I don't like Ocasio-Cortez at all , but the author of this article is an idiot. Here are some stupendously stupid quotes from it:

Income inequality is a myth, while income mobility is still a thing. Yes, it is true that the top 1% are getting richer, but the poor and middle-class are becoming prosperous, too. 

It would seem that the author has never seen any of the ZH charts that show the middle class and poor income and wealth distribution in relation to the elites.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, we implore you to ask yourself these two questions: would you rather be rich in the U.S. 100 years ago or poor today? Would you prefer to be rich in Mexico or impoverished in the U.S.?

It would seem the author does not know about all of the magnificent estates the rich built in the U.S. 100 years ago, nor has he ever been to Mexico to see the lavish lifestyles that their wealthy have. Anyone with half a brain would choose to be rich in either time frame.

I very much dislike socialism, particularly when it is just for certain protected groups, but the author does not help the cause against socialism by writing inane articles like this.

In reply to by Chupacabra-322

camel717 El Vaquero Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:50 Permalink

So what? It's not our job to fix it. Why should it be our job to make sure the poor don't stay poor? Most of them are poor because they don't give a shit to be anything otherwise. Give them a job? They don't want jobs when the gubment is supplying their lifestyle. They don't have aspirations to be successful. Scraping by is just fine if it's on someone else's dime.

In reply to by El Vaquero