Like millions of Americans, newly elected New York democratic socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez loves the Instant Pot multicooker. She has been having Instagram Live conversations about politics while she cooks with her Instant Pot.
In November, Ocasio-Cortez asked her 1.2 million Twitter followers to post their favorite Instant Pot recipes. Perhaps she should ask her Twitter followers to explain to her how markets work to produce innovations like Instant Pots. There are no innovation recipes that guarantee entrepreneurial success.
In my essay, "The Instant Pot and How Empathy Is at the Core of Capitalism," I explored how Dr. Robert Wang risked $300,000 of his savings to invent the Instant Pot. No doubt Ocasio-Cortez sees herself as a highly empathetic person as she sets out to redistribute other people's money, but Dr. Wang's company was built on putting empathy into action with his own money.
Empathy, as Dr. Wang knows, is the open secret of business success. Empathy, not greed, is the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset that fosters innovation to meet the urgent needs of customers.
To those who assume capitalists are greedy, it may seem startling to call profit-seeking entrepreneurs compassionate. For many, compassion begins with politicians redistributing income. Yet empathy is a gateway to compassion. When an entrepreneur sees clearly the unmet needs of others, action to alleviate the need is possible.
Why Socialism Can't Produce an Instant Pot
Ocasio-Cortez's platform calls for Medicare for all, housing as a right, and a federal jobs guarantee with a $15 minimum wage. Her motivation is not merely an expanded social safety net. These are just her first steps toward the abolishment of capitalism.
We can wonder what government agency she envisions will conjure up innovations as good as the Instant Pot. Will future Dr. Wangs apply to a government board for funding? And since Ocasio-Cortez sees a desperate need for more healthcare and housing, how could precious funding be deployed to build something that satisfies unarticulated needs?