Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes people should not be “haunted” by the idea of robots taking their jobs.
The self-described democratic socialist spoke about the threat of automated labor and denounced “capitalism” as “irredeemable” during the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas on Saturday, according to The Verge.
“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work,” Ocasio-Cortez replied to a question about automated workers. “We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.”
The freshman congresswoman from New York referred a proposal by Bill Gates to tax robots that replace human workers at 90 percent, though The Verge noted, “that’s not a number we’ve found in his statements.” Ocasio-Cortez suggested that a “robot tax” could be a less controversial way to impose higher taxes on businesses.
“What [Gates is] really talking about is taxing corporations,” she said. “But it’s easier to say: ‘tax a robot.’”
“We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in,” she said. “Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage.”
The 29-year-old lawmaker, who has proposed a Green New Deal resolution which guarantees jobs for those unable or “unwilling” to work, did not offer up a plan of her own to address the automation of jobs, but pressed her general views against economic greed and economic inequality, according to The Verge.
“We should be working the least amount we’ve ever worked, if we were actually paid based on how much wealth we were producing,” she said. “But we’re not. We’re paid on how little we’re desperate enough to accept. And then the rest is skimmed off and given to a billionaire.”
.@AOC cheers for socialism while wearing $1000 suits and eating at 5 star restaurants. All provided to her by the benefits of Capitalism.
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) March 10, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez also warned that “corporations have taken over our government” and that people should be afraid.
“Capitalism is an ideology of capital — the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” she said. “To me, capitalism is irredeemable.”
“Just as there’s all this fear-mongering that government is going to take over every corporation and government is going to take over every business or every form of production, we should be scared right now because corporations have taken over our government,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “In my opinion, we should be wary of any entity in which both of those things are combined.”
She added that the current system in America is not “sustainable.”
“We’re reckoning with the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society,” she said. “And what that means is people can’t afford to live. For me, it’s a question of priorities and right now I don’t think our model is sustainable.”
The Green New Deal proposes a plan to convert the entire U.S. economy to renewable energy within a decade and Ocasio-Cortez’s views have gotten the thumbs-up from climate activist Bill Nye who made a surprise appearance during one of the Democrat’s sessions on Saturday.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) March 10, 2019
“People are just afraid of what will happen if we try to make these big changes,” Nye said. “When we address climate change, we’re going to have clean water, access to the internet and renewable electricity for everyone on Earth.”
“Courage begets courage,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So, the first person who stands up has to encounter the most amount of fear and discomfort, but once that one person stands up, it becomes immensely easier for the second person and the third.”
The two gushed in selfies posted to Twitter with Nye proclaiming his support again.
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) March 10, 2019
Bill! Bill! Bill! https://t.co/SLqSQlZJn0
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 10, 2019