According to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the term “free stuff” does not apply to her plans for universal health care, tuition-free college, or rent-free housing. In a case of verbal jujitsu, Ocasio-Cortez would like you to believe that her government-provided freebie policies are somehow not “free stuff.” In other news, Ocasio-Cortez has also declared that the sky is no longer blue and water is no longer wet.
In a town hall in front of her Bronx constituents, Ocasio-Cortez, the self-avowed socialist, decreed, “It’s not that we deserve it because it’s a handout. People like to say, ‘Oh, this is about free stuff.’ This is not about free stuff.”
Well then, what is it about?
“These are public goods,” Ocasio-Cortez stated. “They’re public goods. So I never want to hear the word or the term ‘free stuff’ ever again … because I’m tired of already hearing some of these neoliberal folks who are trying to like flip the script on us.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on to clarify, via her Twitter account, that “Public education, libraries, [and] infrastructure policies (which we’ve had before in America and elsewhere in the world!) are not ‘free stuff.’ They are PUBLIC GOODS. And they are worth investing in, protecting, [and] advancing for all society and future generations.”
Quick question: Did Ocasio-Cortez sleep through civics class? Short answer: Probably.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a public good is defined as “A commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society, either by the government or by a private individual or organization.
In other words, public goods consist of basic services, such as law enforcement, national defense, fire protection, etc. that benefit all in a society.
Furthermore, public goods must exhibit two qualities: they must be non-rivalrous and non-excludable. As Investopedia explains, “Economists refer to public goods as ‘non-rivalrous’ and ‘non-excludable,’ and most such goods are both. Their non-rivalry refers to the fact that the goods don’t dwindle in supply as people consume them; a country’s defenses, for example, do not run out or diminish as its population grows. Non-excludability means just that; the good is available to all and cannot be withheld, even from people who do not contribute to its public funding.”
Put another way, housing, higher education, and health care do not meet the standard definition of a public good by even the largest stretch of the imagination. Rather, these products and services are individual goods best provided by the free-market, not the public domain.
However, in AOC’s socialist worldview, most goods (including housing, health care, and high education, among several others) ought to be provided by the public sector, hence, they are public goods.
What AOC fails to consider, however, is that her wide-ranging (and incorrect) definition of public goods is completely antithetical to private property rights, personal freedom, and America’s free-market economic system. If, for example, health care is reclassified as a public good, guess who controls it? Government, of course!
In effect, AOC wants to prevent Americans from calling these preposterous programs what they actually are: free stuff to buy votes. AOC wants to expand government’s purview into all sorts of new areas of society, so they are trying to redefine terms such as public good to better meet their ideological goals.
In essence, Ocasio-Cortez needs to squash freedom of speech, lest her crazy plans receive backlash from the very people that would pay for her expansive public goods. Such is why AOC, and many others on the left, are reinventing and renaming age-old institutions.
In all likelihood, this is the only way she can push progressive policies on an unwitting electorate. Fortunately, most Americans are smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors. Americans know there is no thing as a “free lunch,” even if AOC forbids them from calling her programs what they really are: “free stuff.”
Chris Talgo is an editor at The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.