When Democratic Socialist Congresswoman AOC recently spoke out about her grandmother’s dire situation in Puerto Rico, she blamed Congress for not giving money to those in the area whose homes had been damaged after a bad storm. But when a private citizen tried to show her the power of private charity, she refused to take it. Today, Brittany and Connor talk about this story and explain what AOC doesn’t understand about private charity.
Here’s the transcription of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So we talk a lot about the dangers of socialism and the danger of those in Congress, especially who were calling for this thing, democratic socialism, which spoiler alert is just socialism. So people like Bernie Sanders, people like, oh, always say her name wrong. I call her AOC, but it’s Alexandria. What is?
Connor: Ocasio Cortez.
Brittany: Ocasio Cortez, I think I’ve asked you every time we’ve mentioned her, so we’ll call her AOC. but she, you know, her and Bernie are like the two big democratic socialists in Congress, and they’re always, you know, talking about how great socialism is and that, you know, we don’t understand it. And capitalism is evil. And there’s a lot of things that socialists don’t understand. We’ve talked about them and in fact, if we were to list everything, they don’t understand. This episode would be ours maybe days long. So we won’t get into all that. But one thing that really bothers me is they don’t understand the power of private charity to solve, you know, a lot of economic issues that they believe only the government can solve. And there was actually a recent instance with this where AOC made it abundantly clear that she just doesn’t understand this, or she’s just ignoring it because it doesn’t play into her narrative. It doesn’t go into the story she’s telling about how some people are underserved and there’s all this inequality. So what happened was she had posted on social media, on Twitter, that she had finally gone to visit her grandmother in Puerto Rico, which for a side note, Puerto Rico is an American territory, but it is not a state. But they still get a lot of funding from us because they are under US rules. It’s very confusing actually, and there’s been a lot of calls to make them a state, but I don’t, I don’t know that that’s going anywhere, at least not now. So she hadn’t seen her grandmother for a while because of COVID. So she finally travels over there and she posts pictures of her grandma’s home and it’s in ruins because there was a big hurricane there. And instead of just saying something like, oh, I’m so sad for my grandma’s home, there’s damages from this hurricane, it all of a sudden became political. Even though President Trump is not in office anymore, she still blames, you know, the former president because how dare he block relief funding that was supposed to go to Puerto Rico. Now again, relief funding comes from tax dollars, which means it comes from who it comes from us, right? Right. So, there is no such thing as this, you know, magic government waving their wand and fixing all the problems of people, even though a storm is terrible. You know, nobody is saying that having your home ruined is not a terrible thing. But, so in response, and you and I have talked about being a troll before online, where you kind of poke the bear, as they say. So in response to this, there’s this conservative commentator who, I don’t even like half the time, I was telling you this before we hit record Connor, but his name is, is Matt Walsh, and he’s very, he says a lot of things. So he decided he would start a GoFundMe campaign and a GoFundMe campaign, It’s like a website where people can start these online fundraisers or charity drives. during the protests, when George Floyd was killed, somebody burned down somebody’s small business and there was a GoFundMe campaign and they were able to rebuild. So it’s been really useful. So this guy Matt Walsh starts this for AOC’s grandmother. And Connor, do you wanna explain what happened next in the story?
Connor: So I was actually watching this as it happened. I don’t follow Matt Walsh closely, but so many of my friends started sharing, this post that it caught my attention. And so with this campaign, they ended up raising over a hundred thousand dollars for AOC’s grandmother. And I was chuckling because I know what Matt Walsh is doing. He’s trying to kind of prove
Brittany: He’s trolling.
Connor: He’s trolling is like, you know, look like AOC if you’re gonna buy a Tesla, right? And like, you know, have all these fancy outfits. You’re not taking care of your own grandmother, but expecting taxpayers to, cuz that’s what socialists do. We’re gonna go ahead and use, you know, a voluntary charity in a free market to come together and, you know, help someone in need. And, you know, if this were my grandmother and she was in need, I would be very grateful, even if maybe I didn’t agree with whoever was raising the money, but like a hundred thousand dollars in Puerto Rico, you know, is gonna go a very long way. But that’s not what happened. with GoFundMe, the way it works is that if the person, refuses to accept the money, like the person for who the project is for, then they shut down the campaign. And, you know, in this case, AOC’s grandmother apparently, like the family got to get her.
Connor: Yeah. allegedly the family met. Like, if I’m AOC’s grandmother of Puerto Rico, I’m probably being like, yeah, gimme my hundred grand.
Brittany: But right? gimme your, gimme your Tesla, or let me keep the money.
Connor: Yeah. Like, I can only imagine what those conversations were like where AOC is having to like persuade her Abuela to like reject the money right? Because, oh, it’s gonna make me look bad politically, or like, I don’t know what, I’d be super curious to know how those conversations went, but the money was rejected. And you know, we don’t, we’re not privy to like who influenced who, but the grandma or someone representing grandma came back and said they didn’t want the money. And so GoFundMe took the fundraiser down and you know, AOC is trying to prove a point that because Congress hadn’t sent relief funding or taxpayer dollars to Puerto Rico, that residents were left with no other options, you know, but selling their homes to greedy capitalists and, you know, and fleeing. But the fundraiser, I think proved the point that private charity can help. And of course, we see this all the time, I mean, certainly through churches, but even like, you know, one of our friends, Amanda, she actually works on my team. She’s doing a GoFundMe right now for surgery, and all these people are supporting, or we, you know, see the kid with cancer or whatever, right? And like, you know, they do GoFund Muse and they raise money and people come together to help the people that they care about. But that idea of voluntary charity doesn’t really fit the narrative, or rather the kind of worldview or perspective that AOC was trying to paint a picture of. In fact, instead of saying, you know, thank you, this is wonderful, AOC didn’t even respond.
Brittany: Which actually kind of says a lot because she didn’t even like a rebuttal, what had happened, right? Like, to me, that’s like just so sheepish to not even respond at all because.
Connor: Age. Yeah.
Brittany: You kind of know that you were just owned by the other side. one thing that I think is really interesting too is a lot of these people who claim to be socialists are, they claim to be community driven. You know, the word communism comes from this, this idea of community. But you know, her grandma could have used this money to help other people too. Matt Walsh, the guy that started the fundraiser, he said, this is a problem he could have solved, not just for Abuela, which is a grandmother in Spanish, but they could have taken the money, fixed her ceiling, bought her some furniture that she clearly needs, and they could have taken the rest of the money and helped neighbors. They could have helped the whole community, but they didn’t want to do that. And I thought that was really interesting. Again, even though I don’t always agree with Matt Walsh, and I definitely think he started this fundraiser to be a troll, but that is the beauty of it, right? That when you raise money and you let individuals be the one who raised the money, then, like, it’s not just one person that benefits, right? She could have helped other people, but that’s not what was allowed to happen. And it’s because these people are so against private charity because if you think about it, it threatens everything they believe in. Because if they find out that individuals and communities can pull together to help each other, then why do we need Congress? Why do we need government? Right? Like that, that to me is the big thing here. If we prove them wrong on this one thing, everything else crumbles. How do you, I don’t know what you think about that Connor.
Connor: It’s, you know, there’s always been people in need and there’s always, and there always will be, right? There’s always been poverty. There always will be poverty. Like these are problems that don’t go away. And one thing I find interesting, you and I have talked about this before about capitalism and entrepreneurship, is like the poor people today have cell phones. Yeah. You know, the poor people in America have like TVs and Netflix subscriptions, and refrigeration and air conditioning, you know, and like poverty, today is in some ways better than Kings lived, even just like a century ago or half a century ago.
Brittany: I think Stephen Pinker talked about that, that even like the poorest person in the world today is still richer than like a king. I don’t know that I’ve quoted that, but I, I believe it’s something like that, it’s, we live so much better today than even the poorest people. You know? It’s crazy.
Connor: And so this poverty always exists and as we’re talking about it kind of maybe improves over time, but like, to me it’s this question of like, who’s going to help? Are you gonna force other people to care for people? Or are you going to, rely on voluntary charity? Now, the typical example from like someone who supports the state or socialism, they’ll say, well, if the government didn’t do it, then people would die in the streets. right? That there would be people who would not get support. not enough people would contribute. And I say, where’s your data? Like, show me the evidence of that because, and this would be kind of interesting for our readers to learn more about, I only learned about this about five, 10 years ago, that in the early days of America before you had this welfare state, which is like just all these government programs that tax us to allegedly help poor people. And the government’s in the middle of all of it, there were a lot of, what are called fraternal organizations. And these are kind of just like, what’s a good way to put it? Kind of like Boy Scouts or YMCA or some of these like, civic groups where you can just kind of be a part of an organization.
Brittany: Eighths of Columbus is another one. Yeah. I believe that’s part of the Catholic church. Yeah.
Connor: And so in the early days of America, especially where there were so many immigrants and they were super poor, you would find these organizations and they were everywhere. And they were for men, for women, for people from all different countries. And typically what it was like, let’s say you were coming from Ireland, okay? And so I’m Irish and I’m coming to America, and I’ve got like 5 cents to my name, I got nothing. Well, I would find this group of other people from Ireland, and they would allow me to join, and they would support me. They would help me, they would get me insurance. They would help introduce me to people. They would give me, you know, healthcare, you know, there was often childcare as well. different organizations did different things, but these people would kind of band together. And you had this for, people of different religions. You had it for people from different countries. And, there’s a book that I read years ago that did a deep analysis of all of these different fraternal organizations that were designed to help people with, you know, medical needs and insurance and so forth. And what was interesting is that, as Congress started passing laws to create more and more welfare, you had an effect called, crowding out. In other words, it became too crowded for the free market for these fraternal organizations because they had to raise money, they had to get collect dues from people, right? Hey, pay us like a dollar a month back then, or whatever it was, you know, and you pay a little bit. But we pool that all together and then we help the people in need. And that was all voluntary, but then people started getting taxed, and so now they’re being taxed and they’re having to pay for these dues. But then they’re saying, well, wait a minute. Like, the government is already promising me, like healthcare or whatever. And so why do I need to be part of this organization anymore and pay, I’m already paying taxes and I have to pay taxes. And so little by little by little by little, the government starts doing more and more. And all of a sudden over the years, these fraternal organizations start shutting down because they can’t compete. They literally can’t compete with the government. And, it’s go-ahead.
Brittany: Sorry. No, no. Oh, keep going. I’ll, add onto it.
Connor: I was just gonna say that they literally can’t compete and so they’re forced out of business, even though they were these charity-based organizations with a purpose and a mission and they wanted to help and they wanted to support their members. They literally could not compete against the government that has the ability to force people to pay taxes. But then when you do it through the government, you have all this corruption and you have this waste and the one of the important things I think about with charity is that the giver knows the receiver. So like, if there’s accountability, Brittany, if I, fall on hard times and you’re like, Hey, Connor, I want to help. And you’re like, here’s a hundred bucks to like, you know, buy groceries for your kids or whatever. Well, if you know me, then I feel a sense of accountability. I know that next time I see you, you’re gonna ask me. And I, want to, you know, look myself, you know, in the face, in the morning. Like, I want to, have a good conscience, a clear conscience, and so I feel a sense of accountability. I’m not gonna go out and waste that a hundred bucks on, you know, candy and, but if it’s through the government, I have no clue who’s being taxed. I don’t care about them. There’s no accountability there’s no desire to spend that money carefully and be almost like considerate stewardship, like it’s sacred money almost, right? And so when you do it through the government, there’s all these problems that emerge and then the private market gets shut down because they can’t compete. And so then today we have a massive welfare state where it’s the government that’s involved in like 98% of all the welfare. And organizations, churches, and others hardly do anything anymore compared to what they used to because everyone turns to the government.
Brittany: Well, and it’s not even good care. That’s kind of the point I wanted to make, is, you know, they’re crowding out the free market and they’re offering a worse product. So a lot of our lister, actually all of our listeners are probably not alive during Hurricane Katrina, but FEMA really botched that. And FEMA is the people. They come in and they’re like the disaster relief part of the government, and they never seem to get anything, right? I mean, not only were they giving relief checks to people who didn’t exist, or people who had died, and these is our tax dollars. Remember, they were selling, they were giving people, I think it was trailers like, like mobile homes that ended up having like asbestos in it. Like there were all these terrible things that were happening, and it was like, okay, this is our tax dollars at work. And you did have private organizations. In fact, there’s a lot of churches that are like, that swoop in right after a disaster, and they’re usually better at doing disaster relief than the government is. But because of this crowding out, the government has almost like a monopoly on this, right? And they’re offering a worse product. So it’s funny to me because private charity works better, it’s higher quality, and like you said, there’s accountability.
Connor: I think that that part is so important. And as we think about these big problems, how do we care for people? How do we care for AOC’s, Abuelita and Puerto Rico? How do we care for, you know, people in Africa? How do we care for people in our community? These are tough problems, but the free market always helps and makes things better. And government always makes things worse. And so, you know, here we see Matt Walsh, yes, he’s trolling. Yes. He’s trying to prove a point. And yet people came together to help. And I liked his point actually, it’s like, look, don’t even use the money on the Aue left. You know, let her go help other people in need. The money’s there, but they just couldn’t look wrong. They, they didn’t want to take, you know, this money and have to kind of embrace the idea that, hey, people can help voluntarily and we should accept that. So these are important issues for us to talk about because poverty and people in need is always gonna be with us. The question is who is best to solve that problem? And I think the answer is, once again, and always, it’s the free market. It’s people voluntarily working together. so check out Tuttletwins.com/podcast for the show notes if you’re interested. otherwise, we’re grateful to you guys for being subscribed for listening. As always, share the podcast with your friends. Let’s get even more people listening and learning alongside of us. Thanks as always. And Brittany, until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.