Thursday, June 28, 2018

An Open Letter to the Future Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Dispatch 1
From: The Committee to Flip Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
To: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Subject: An Open Letter to theFuture Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Prepared by: Harrison Burge
Date: June 28, 2018

Dear Future Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

Congratulations on your recent primary victory.

Since your path to victory in the general election in November seems nearly guaranteed, I’ll congratulate you in advance and wish you well representing New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Now, on my reason for writing this open letter.

In your recent interview with Kate Aronoff, you indicated that your knowledge of economics distinguishes you from other members of Congress. I agree that many in Congress desperately lack a grasp of basic economic principles. So, in my view, anyone better versed in economic theory and application is welcome on Capitol Hill.

With that said, I’m unsure of which school of economic thought that you follow.

And rather than make assumptions about your perspective and then proceed to make the case for the Austrian school of economics that I follow and cherish, which include such luminaries as Ludwig von Mises, Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard, I’d like to first establish some common ground with you.

Let’s start with a foundation: the definition of economics.

I’d bet that we agree on this definition: Economics is the study of how individuals allocate scarce resources to meet the unlimited wants and needs of others in society.

This how is vital.

Individuals living in a civilized society should always reject the use of outright force or implicit intimidation to meet their wants and needs. Nothing revolutionary here – no stealing, no coercion.

With violence or the threat of violence as non-options, this means that the only avenue to interact with others in society is peacefully, through voluntary exchange of products and services for other products or services (barter) or for money.

Any third-party interference in this decision-making process would negate the peaceful transactions and society in which we wish to live. In short, it would be coercive and violent.

So, the fundamental issue of allocating scarce resources – the how – is: When left to their own accord, are people on average inherently good? (Again, I’m asking about the mean or median of the distribution, not the tail-ends.) In other words, can most others be trusted to operate peacefully to maximize our wants and needs?

Or, are people on average inherently immoral actors? Does society require a coercive third-party – perhaps one lacking all the necessary knowledge – to enter the picture and paint in broad strokes, attempting to right every perceived wrong?

And this leads to a couple of follow-up questions.

If people are inherently good, who’ll provide goods and services to one another at an agreed-upon price, provide jobs for those willing to work at an agreed-upon wage, and provide voluntary support for the unfortunate or downtrodden in their communities, isn’t this superior to any centralized system that dictates the terms of all these voluntary transactions?

In other words, is government – the greatest centralized system out there – limited in its powers to simply secure individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or, is government’s power arbitrary, unlimited, and unchecked?

I’m not a future constituent of yours, but if you examine your views and conclude that the only moral option for interacting with others is through voluntary, peaceful means, then you’ll certainly have my support for this House seat and any future public office that you wish to hold.

All the best,

Harrison Burge



  1. I'd give her maybe a few weeks after she takes office to flip. Then we need to stress to everyone that:

    1. The market does not result in monopoly. The Robber Barons used "progressive" legislation to monopolize the economy. Read Gabriel Kolko.

    2. The market does not require "stimulus" nor does it lack "momentum" that must be provided by the government. As Hayek explained, Keynesianism was a ruse to lower British wages in the 1930s. Our present fiat funny money system is used to shift wealth from poor and average people to the rich and powerful. “Progressives” who support these policies are personally responsible for the inevitable outcomes.

    3. Both the 1920 depression and the Great Depression were caused by government manipulation of money and credit. This began in earnest when the U.S. government funded WWI. Keynesian Daniel Kuehn explained:

    The austerity depression of 1920–21

    During World War I federal expenditures ballooned and although the new income tax was able to partially finance the war effort, most of the financing was done through federal borrowing and by the highly accommodating monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. The role of the Federal Reserve at this time was expressed unambiguously by the New York Federal Reserve Bank Governor Benjamin Strong, who told a Congressional committee in 1921 that “I feel that I, or the bank at least, was their [the Treasury’s] agent and servant in those matters’ and further added that the wartime inflation caused by the low interest rates maintained by the bank were “inevitable, unescapable, and necessary’ for prosecuting the war”
    (Strong, 1930)

    However, after the war ended the deficit spending of the Wilson administration and the expansionary policy of the Federal Reserve were sharply curtailed to bring a halt to the inflation. By November 1919 the Wilson administration balanced the federal budget, slashing monthly expenditures by almost 75% in a matter of months.4 The New York Federal Reserve Bank raised the discount rate by 244 basis points over the course of eight months, with other Reserve System banks following suit. Shortly after these austerity measures were taken, the 1920–21 depression was under way. Postwar industrial production in the USA peaked in January 1920 as the economy moved into a major depression, with production levels dropping by 32.5% by March 1921.5 This loss in output is second only to the Great Depression in American economic history (Romer, 1999), although its duration was considerably shorter. Declines in output were matched by precipitous drops in employment and the price level. The proximate cause of the 1920–21 depression was a deliberate fiscal and monetary retrenchment following World War I.

    These are not market failures and cannot be blamed upon laissez faire or “capitalism”.

    4. Regardless of one’s opinion regarding immigration to the USA, if Latin America is going to collapse as a failed society, one of its major causes would be US and western interventionist economic and political teachings. Every god-awful type of intervention that is taught in “western” universities is applied in Latin America, the drug war, Keynesian funny money economics and a fundamental lack of property and contract rights for the benefit of average people and the poor. Much of this can be laid at the doorstep of the “progressives” who are personally responsible for much of these teachings and the horrible predicted outcomes. These problems are, in fact, caused by "progressive" "solutions".

  2. It's a valiant effort, but I fear it is still too esoteric for the layman or woman. I feel something along these lines might work "I agree with you that investment will spur our economy, but who should decide these things? Should politicians and bureaucrats decide where our money is spent, or should it be up to everyday good Americans? Politicians and bureaucrats can be easily influenced by special interest lobbyists to give us border walls, ICE black sites, never ending wars, and worse. Everyday Americans want better communities, neighborhoods, schools and safe, fun places to live and work. Would empowering everyday Americans work out better for our society, or should we empower politicians and bureaucrats? I hope you feel as I do that it is not hard to decide which side to take, but implementing this decision as policy will mean stepping away from the noise of the crowd and it will mean standing up against a tidal wave of political momentum that has been building in this country for some time now." Etc...

  3. Fantastic piece. So concise, pithy, and well-reasoned. But this woman and her cult-followers will be unswayed. They have been steeped for too long in the emotionalism and culture of envy, disdain for what they believe is core human nature (greed, selfishness, apathy), and quest for control and power. She discovered what is "right and just" years ago, and probably her politics and ideology have fused with her self-image and her identity; It's how she sees herself, it's part of her identity; Paradigm-shifting is too hard and disruptive.

    1. @Unknown

      Great point about self-identity. Now, at her apex of success, is probably the time when she’ll be the LEAST receptive to new ideas. Why should she stop doing what’s working for her?

      I do think the human nature argument cuts both ways, though. You could just as easily argue that fundamental human badness would rule out socialism and democracy, as it would freedom.

    2. We’re either good, bad, or a mixture, and something in between. Personally, I think most people are mostly good.
      But regardless, rulers are “made from the same clay” as the rest of us (and probably worse clay), and there is no guarantee that government is more bright, trustworthy and competent.
      If Rule of Law means nobody is superior under the law, then we also need a “Law of Rule”, where nobody is superior enough to rule others!

  4. "Now, at her apex of success ..."

    We can only hope.

  5. This is fantastic!... I didn't read whole thing but the idea... trying to actually reach these people, neither assuming their are some villains or idiots. Wonderful... It should be so incredibly obvious that most people, without the proper understanding of economics, fall for socialist crap. I mean, this is so obvious I feel silly mentioning it.

    "“The problems involved are purely intellectual and must be dealt with as such. It is disastrous to shift them to the moral sphere and to dispose of supporters of opposite ideologies by calling them villains. It is vain to insist that what we are aiming at is good and what our adversaries want is bad. The question to be solved is precisely what is to be considered as good and what as bad. The rigid dogmatism peculiar to religious groups and to Marxism results only in irreconcilable conflict. It condemns beforehand all dissenters as evildoers, it calls into question their good faith, it asks them to surrender unconditionally. No social cooperation is possible where such an attitude prevails.”