I have bad news. According to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), if you don’t believe in a federally enforced minimum wage of $15, you’re living in a “dystopian capitalist nightmare.” 

Clearly, that’s bad.

But is it really? 

AOC is an expert at painting sad portraits of a distorted reality where the American people suffer under stingy business owners who mercilessly refuse to pay their employees what she calls a “living wage.” She bemoans the fact that, without a higher minimum wage, “there are basic goods that people can’t afford.” If her portrait corresponded to reality, it would be safe to assume that states with low minimum wages are the states in which living conditions are the most unbearable. 

Let’s take Texas, for example.  

The Lone Star State has what progressives might consider a pathetic minimum wage of only $7.25 per hour. California’s minimum wage, on the other hand, is currently set at either $13 or $14 (depending on how many employees an employer has), and it’s scheduled to reach $15 dollars by 2023. Considering the impoverishment that AOC frequently attributes to a low minimum wage, why would anyone ever choose to live in Texas over California? This must explain why thousands of businesses and families are fleeing the rampant poverty of Texas in exchange for the utopian promises of the Golden State, right? 

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Actually, the exact opposite is happening. 

Over the last decade, California has become notorious for losing its jobs and residents to other states, especially Texas. In 2019 alone, approximately 82,000 people moved from California to Texas, as did hundreds of businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas grew in population more than any other state during 2018 and 2019, while recent data shows that California actually has a decreasing population.   

I’m not saying that the minimum wage is the sole reason businesses and families are migrating out of California, because it isn’t. That being said, it’s easy to imagine that an increasing minimum wage could be the final straw for any business struggling under the weight of California’s absurdly high taxes and extensive regulations. It also proves that, despite the instant gratification that comes from raising the minimum wage, there are other economic factors far more important than your base pay. 

California is free to kill its own economy, but why force the entire country to adopt regulations that aren’t even working in the places where they’ve been tried? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what AOC wants to do.

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And that’s the biggest problem with AOC’s proposal: not the mere fact that she wants to raise the minimum wage, but that she wants to do it on a national level. It wouldn’t matter whether you lived in Texas or California, Arizona or New York, Florida or Massachusetts; the federal government would dictate how you run your business. And as the Lone Star State–in addition to a long history of American capitalism–proves, less government intervention in the market almost always results in more financial prosperity than more government intervention does. 

Texas may not have AOC’s ideal “living wage,” but it does have one of the freest markets in the country, and the droves of people flocking to the state seems to suggest that the average American still prefers economic freedom over the intrusive federal mandates of some overbearing socialist. 

If AOC really wanted to see economic growth similar to what we’re witnessing in Texas, she’d be wise to leave the states alone. Let Texas make its own decisions. Let California be California. 

Until then, I expect we’ll have to put up with more of AOC’s Orwellian lectures on the dreaded “dystopian capitalist nightmare.”

Jakob Fay is an intern with the Convention of States Project.