Even though she may sound too revolutionary sometimes…

Do You Know? AOC Might be right.

… I think she deserves to be listened to, attentively.

ecently, I just came across some of the youtube video recordings of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC).

In particular, I was attracted by two of her proposals: 1) Universal, free for all, healthcare system in the U.S.A. 2) A substantial increase of the minimum wage to all workers in the U.S.

Both proposals were dismissed by many as unrealistic, utopic proposals, made by the congresswoman probably with the sole aim of being in the news.

But, her proposals made me think about them, although I consider myself to be quite to the right of her, politically speaking.

As most of you hardly know me, I am from Spain, where every Spaniard is entitled to free healthcare (contributing or not), provided by the Social Security Sistem (SSS) in force there.

A few years ago, I lost my father, who passed away after 15 years of being treated — for free — by the doctors part of the Spanish Social Security System.

The progress of his illness required him to be hospitalized during his last days until he passed away, but all along with his illness he was treated, very well I must say, medicines included, by doctors and in hospitals and clinics in both Madrid where he first resided, and then in Gijon, Asturias, for his last years, all doctors, clinics, and hospitals belonging to the Social Security System, and all of it with no charge whatsoever.

All of that, I have to say, even though, as an immigrant to Venezuela in 1957, he had only contributed to the Spanish SSS for just a few years.

And to those who dismiss such a system “because I want to have my surgery whenever I want, with no waiting times”, dismissing a free, universal healthcare system by referring to the obligation to wait in the case of OPTATIVE surgical procedures (there are no waiting times for EMERGENCY surgical procedures), I’d say that I am sure that Americans with no health protection whatsoever, would have no problem waiting for their turn, as free, universal healthcare for all ensures they will get eventually treated, as opposed to the current system in place, under which they would have no hope at all of ever getting treated.

Besides, if the speed of treatment is really important for you, paid for health insurance plans are also available, peacefully coexisting with the health benefits provided by the Spanish SSS.

Inevitably, I thought how come Spain was able to maintain that SSS in place, while the U.S. —a substantially richer country than Spain — can’t?

Well, it seems to me that it is just an accounting problem.

As AOC rightly points out, critics rapidly dismissed her proposal of free healthcare for all, by emphasizing that such a system would be too expensive to maintain (“how is it going to be paid for?”).

But when calculating the cost of the proposal, critics only concentrate on the cost side, ignoring the savings generated by such a free system, such as the increases in the output and productivity of having a more healthy workforce, or the health-savings achieved by the early discovery of illness granted by the free availability of healthcare.

Besides, all cost calculations are made taking the current (inflated) price of procedures and medicines (too expensive) in the U.S.A

As a disabled person, I ingest a lot of pills every day. Some of them are purchased in Spain, at 3 to 5 times cheaper cost than in the U.S. That is not right, and require IMMEDIATE correction/intervention by the U.S. Government, as it affects the lives of millions of citizens, particularly seniors retired of various ages, who have to dedicate a good part of their pension income just to pay for their prescribed medicines.

Also, just to give you an example, part of my recovery took place in a neurological center in the U.S., and I remember asking the center to put me in contact with a specialized doctor, as I wanted to remove from my abdomen a tube connected to my stomach, through which then I was ingesting both, my food and my medicines.

I was told the doctor would charge $600 for the initial consultation.

$600 just to see what’s all about!

I did not even want to think about how much he was going to charge for the actual surgical procedure!

Naturally enough, that was the last time I talked to that doctor.

Healthcare for all is not a utopia, but a real proposal that is going to be seriously considered by a Biden administration.

**********

As for the proposal to increase the minimum wage of all U.S. workers, let us not forget that during the ’50s and ’60s, U.S. workers enjoyed salaries that permitted them to opt for an own house, a car, higher education to his children, and generally speaking, a higher living standard than today’s, without working under a socialist or communist system.

The problem is that from 1973 on, paid hourly wages ceased to accompany gains in productivity, as shown by the graphic below:

Paradoxically, the U.S. then experimented a substantial increase in the number of millionaires, and some corporations showed multi-billion dollar results. The typical U.S. worker meanwhile, was poorer and poorer.

When AOC proposed a substantial increase in worker’s wages, enough for workers — her or him — to live a comfortable life, she was instantly cataloged as a communist, or as a socialist, by those critics less aggressive.

In fact, nothing is farther from the truth, as she appears only guided by her continuous search for social justice, and by common sense.

I would add that the survival of capitalism is at stake.

Just by paying more to workers, corporations would not be showing such scandalous results and the U.S.would be, once again, a better place in which to live.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Eugenio Magdalena

Eugenio is a disabled Economist (UCAB, Caracas), cursed a post-graduate Diploma in Marketing (Strathclyde University, Scotland, UK), and an MBA (England, UK).