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Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash

But the mere use of a price at all is

I found the uproar over AOC's $58 sweatshirt fascinating.

I don't object to the price tag. It's no doubt pricey, but she's fundraising for her campaign. I frequently overpay for items when the proceeds are going to church or charity. For the ideologue, a donation to AOC's campaign is a donation to church (the progressive earthly paradise).

Besides, she apparently bought the most expensive sweatshirt possible by purchasing one made with union wages. That no doubt increases the overall cost.

You'd think other people would understand these things and not ridicule her.

But there was an intuitive, almost visceral, reaction that something was very wrong with the $58 price tag.

I don't think it was the $58 price point.

I think it's the fact that she used a price point at all. What's a socialist doing, using prices? Aren't those two things wildly inconsistent?

Those are fair questions.

Prices are merely one way of allocating a society's scarce resources. The reason we can't all have lakefront houses isn't because they're so expensive. They're so expensive because there aren't enough to go around. It's a problem of scarcity. Prices determine who gets a lakeside house and who doesn't.

It's the capitalist system.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's the socialist system. In a socialist system, prices don't dictate who gets what. The government does. The government determines who gets a lakeside house and who doesn't.

Enter AOC.

She wants the government, not prices, to allocate scarce resources.

This is baked into the sweatshirt itself, which sports the motto, “Tax the Rich.” Why tax the rich? So the money can be taken from the rich and given to the poor, thereby reducing the ability of the rich to acquire scarce resources and increase the ability of the poor to acquire scarce resources.

And who will undertake this allocation of scarce resources?


It is an approach that trends along the socialist side of the spectrum when it comes to the most fundamental problem in society: how to allocate scarce resources.

Yet AOC wants to implement it by using prices.

That's the incongruity in the whole thing.

I'm no psychologist, but I suspect the incongruity resonated negatively with people at a visceral level, even if they couldn't put their finger on why they found it so repugnant.