New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to share her thoughts on capitalism and the U.S. economy.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I believe that in a broad sense because when we toss out these big words, capitalism, socialism, they get sensationalized. And people translate them into meaning things that perhaps they don't mean. So to me, capitalism at its core, what we're talking about when we talk about that, is the absolute pursuit of profit at all human, environmental, and social cost. That is what we're really discussing.
And what we're also discussing is the ability for a very small group of actual capitalists-- and that is people who have so much money that their money makes money, and they don't have to work. And they can control industry. They can control our energy sources.
They can control our labor. They can control massive markets that they dictate and can capture governments. And they can essentially have power over the many. And to me that is not a redeemable system for us to be able to participate in for the prosperity and peace for the vast majority of people.
ANDY SERWER: So people talk about stakeholder capitalism like Larry Fink at BlackRock where the weighting for different constituents besides shareholders is more equal. Is that something you'd be amenable to?
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think at the end of the day, it is about who has control over the very core assets of production and society. If it ultimately comes down to a billionaire or the Koch brothers or the Koch family having control over the vast majority or large plurality of our oil assets in the United States, if it's a handful of very wealthy families having control over-- you know, private families having control over means of production, that is essentially the capitalist system that we live in. It is a small group that is of privatized control over what we eat and how we fuel our society.
Now, where we can transition to and there are certain ideas where we're talking about-- for example, Elizabeth Warren has discussed workers being elected to the governing boards of companies. And also, we're here in the Bronx. I represent a community that has the largest concentration of worker cooperatives in-- you know, one of the largest concentrations in the world.
Now, these are alternative ways of doing business. Free markets are not the same thing as capitalism. And you can have markets where businesses and ways of producing, trading, selling goods are really controlled and not just controlled but giving more power to workers. People get a fair shake. Union jobs, unionized workplaces, all of these are different steps and levels that we're talking about in a more just economy.