In her latest attempt at legislation, AOC decided to carve out and spin-off the Green New Deal’s socialism into a brand new bill; “A Just Society.”
As the glowing summary from her website states, “A Just Society aims to ensure that we are on a path towards shared prosperity for all. A just society provides a living wage, safe working conditions, and healthcare. A just society acknowledges the value of immigrants to our communities. A just society guarantees safe, comfortable, and affordable housing.”
Her plan composes of six different Acts, with their description and flaws as follows:
The Recognizing Poverty Act – This Act correctly acknowledges a flaw in our federal poverty guidelines, in that they’re not adjusted for the cost of living. Someone earning an income at the poverty line in an expensive city is worse off than someone earning the same income in a relatively cheap-rural area, and yet the two are eligible for the same amount of benefits.
AOC is proposing this presumably to expand the number of people eligible for federal assistance, and ironically, it would expose just how impoverished our liberal dominated states and cities really are. As I noted elsewhere in a comparison of California and Texas: “…while California appears to have a poverty rate of roughly 15 percent (measured by the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure), that only defines poverty for a family of four as $24,036 (in 2015), without any considering for the cost of living. If the cost of living were adjusted for, California’s poverty rate comes out to 20.6% (as measured by the Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure), compared to a national average of 15.1%. Texas ranked just below average, with a cost-of-living adjusted poverty rate of 14.9%.”
So I’m on board with this idea, except for how it would expand welfare eligibility.
The Embrace Act – This “embraces” immigrants, and by “immigrants,” AOC means “illegal immigrants,” whom she wants to make eligible for federal benefits. While some illegals are able to receive government assistance in niche situations, this would expand the welfare state to upwards of 20 million individuals who have no right to them.
Even her mentor Bernie Sanders acknowledges that open borders are incompatible with a large welfare state. As he said at an Iowa town hall event, “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it.”
The Uplift Workers Act – This bill “directs the Department of Labor, in collaboration with the office of Management and Budget, to create a ‘worker-friendly score’ for federal contracts. This score would consider factors such as paid-family leave, scheduling predictability, a $15 minimum wage or otherwise prevailing wage, and union membership to ensure that all federal agencies prioritize contractors that are ‘worker-friendly’ when deciding what entities deserve public funds.”
When it came to Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, a study conducted by the University of Washington found that the law reduced hours by 9 percent, which caused wages to fall on net by 6 percent. And the kicker? That study was conducted when Seattle’s minimum wage had “only” risen from $10.50 to $13 an hour, as the $15 wage was phased in gradually. And despite that $2.5 an hour raise at the time of the study, workers were still $125 a month worse off.
As for ensuring that all federal workers are unionized, its that sort of policies that are why it cost New York City over $2 million to build a single restroom. Government workers already earn nearly 80% more than their private sector counterparts in total compensation.
The Place to Prosper Act – This bill “protects tenants, improves the quality of housing stock, reins in corporate landlords, and seeks to ensure that housing is available and affordable for all.” Rent control is central to this particular bill, and would put a 3% annual cap on rent increases (roughly in line with historical levels of inflation).
Rent control is universally rejected by economists as an way to contain rents, as it inevitably causes shortages in housing everywhere its been tried. As Paul Krugman, whom I seldom quote in agreement, wrote on the matter: “The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and — among economists, anyway — one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ‘a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.” Almost every freshman-level textbook contains a case study on rent control, using its known adverse side effects to illustrate the principles of supply and demand.”
The Mercy in Re-Entry Act – This bill is aimed at helping ex-convicts receive welfare. In her words, it “ensures that all persons in need are eligible for the social safety net, regardless of prior involvement with the criminal justice system.”
Interesting priorities for sure.
Guarantees the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights for All Act – This bill “instructs the executive branch to re-initiate ratification processes for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The ICESCR states that all persons have the right to work, fair and just conditions of work, social security, an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing, housing, and healthcare.” Currently 170 countries have signed onto ICESCR, including such “paradises” as Afghanistan, the Congo, Cuba, Haiti, and Zimbabwe.
I’m not sure what simply ratifying something does tangibly, but at least this bill wouldn’t be economically destructive or cost us trillions of dollars like her other bright ideas.