American Serfdom

Last month, one of the many items being “fact-checked” and covered up (literally covered up) on Facebook was a post suggesting that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is worth $29 million. I can’t find any documented source for this claim—it seems to originate from a website called “CA Knowledge,” which reports that Ocasio-Cortez, among other things, owns several luxury cars and and a multimillion-dollar stock portfolio. As far as I can tell, there’s no data to back this up (although Google doesn’t always tell me the whole truth these days).

But, if the AOC wealth claim is wrong, the USA Today fact-check is downright insane: Their take is that Ocasio-Cortez, according to her own “most recent financial disclosure” has assets of between $3,000 and $45,000, and student debt of between $15,000 and $50,000. In other words, they rate her “net worth” as near zero, or possibly negative. Anyone who’s seen the clothes she wears, the places she dines, the galas she attends, would know that we are not looking at a person with a net worth of nothing. 

She earns $174,000 per year, by the way. 

But of course, it’s not through salaries—stupidly high though they are—that our congressmen become rich and ultimately wealthy. Anyone who has a share in controlling the largest budget on the planet has valuable influence. Big business spends billions of dollars every year lobbying because the results are worth trillions. The House Ethics Committee may claim they have stringent rules about accepting gifts, but look at the results: How often does a long-serving congressman leave office poorer than he was at the start? When was the last time you met a congressman who actually had to worry about the cost of groceries or power or gasoline? Never.

And Ocasio-Cortez may not be worth $29 million or even a fraction of that—but no one doubts that she’s never going to have to worry about money again for the rest of her life.

The problem is not that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but that the politicians get richer, period. If someone can come up with a cogent argument for why we pay congressmen more than the median U.S. income, I’d be delighted to hear it. I think being in Congress should impose a debt that congressmen must pay off through physical labor—after every term served, they should have to work in a coal mine for a year.

What are we expected to think when we watch Biden shipping billions of dollars overseas to the Ukraine (whose energy industry has employed so many congressmen’s kids)? What are we expected to think when we see Biden selling our strategic gas reserve to China? We’re expected to think nothing at all because Washington, D.C., considers it to be none of our business.

We’ve been told that it’s not only crazy but seditious and borderline illegal to question Our Democracy or suggest that our elections may not be fair. But, again, what do the results suggest? Does the government we have resemble anything anyone would vote for? Do congressmen in any way resemble the voters whom they in theory represent?

You may work the whole year and, after expenses and taxes, end up with approximately zero dollars left over. Young Americans can’t afford a house or a car, can’t afford to get married or have kids—can’t even afford to save for those things: The average savings of Americans under 35 is $11,200. Which means that, in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s age group, the average American has less in total savings than AOC earns every month. That money doesn’t just disappear into thin air—it goes into the pockets of the people who preach to us about coming times of stringency and food shortages.

Good system, right?

If America is approaching a breaking point, it has nothing to do with culture wars (or at least, not directly). It is simply a matter of theft: Our work and our lives are being stolen by politicians who make it clear through their actions—and, increasingly, through their words—that they in no way consider themselves accountable to the voters. Politicians don’t even bother making promises anymore: They simply tell us that our view of reality is wrong. There’s no recession; things are going great. Bad times are, in fact, good times. Hot is cold. Our money is their money. War is peace.

A government, like any institution, can be said to be working for those whom they are most worried about pleasing. Does anyone think America’s government is worried about pleasing Americans?

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About Dan Gelernter

Dan Gelernter is a columnist for American Greatness living in Florida.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/MG21/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

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