Far-left U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) uttered more than a few crowd-pleasing phrases during her appearance over the weekend at the ultra-hip South by Southwest conference — including that former President Ronald Reagan's policies were a "perfect example" of how powerful people "screw over all working-class Americans" — but the freshman congresswoman was also there apparently to calm economic fears.
'How we handle the production of wealth'
Taking questions from the audience in Austin, Texas, Ocasio-Cortez addressed the rise of automation and what workers will do when their jobs are replaced.
The 29-year-old discussed how the U.S. must "fix our underlying systems" and "how we handle the production of wealth" in order to address income inequality — because "everybody in the country should be feeling the extent of our national prosperity. But the majority of us aren't."
"We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work, right?" Ocasio-Cortez declared. "We should not feel nervous about the toll booth collector not having to collect tolls anymore. We should be excited by that."
She said the reason why many aren't excited by such a prospect is that "we live in a society where if you don't have a job, you are left to die."
Don't worry, be happy
But Ocasio-Cortez has solutions: New tax structures and even "distributing wealth created by automation."
Given that, the new congresswoman — who takes home six figures annually in her taxpayer-funded job — said instead "we should be excited about automation because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing and investigating in the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in. Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage."
The crowd applauded in approval.