'No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams billionaires for exploiting workers

tmohamed@businessinsider.com (Theron Mohamed)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

  • People only become billionaires by exploiting workers and preying on vulnerable and less privileged people, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued this week.

  • "No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars," the freshman congresswoman, who goes by "AOC," told author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

  • Billionaires make their money "off the backs" of undocumented immigrants, minorities, and single mothers," she said.

  • "You sat on a couch while thousands of people were paid modern-day slave wages," she added.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argues that people only become billionaires by exploiting workers and preying on vulnerable and less privileged people.

"No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars," the freshman congresswoman, who goes by "AOC," told author Ta-Nehisi Coates at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event this week. Ocasio-Cortez shared a NowThis clip of their discussion on Twitter.

Video: How the Super-Wealthy Hide Billions

Coates, adopting the role of the hypothetical billionaire, asked the lawmaker to elaborate.

"I'm Joe Billionaire," he said. "I made widgets. I sold those widgets. I made billions of dollars ... therefore those billions of dollars are mine. Why am I the enemy of healthcare?"

"Well, you didn't make those widgets did you?" Ocasio-Cortez replied. "You employed thousands of people and paid them less than a living wage to make those widgets for you."

"You sat on a couch while thousands of people were paid modern-day slave wages," she continued. Billionaires make their money "off the backs" of undocumented immigrants, minorities, and single mothers who are all "literally dying because they can't afford to live," she added.

Ocasio-Cortez continued by criticizing capitalism for inevitably creating billionaires while others starve, then called for a fairer, more advanced society.

"We are right now ... at the edges of an untenable system that is starting to crack," she said.

Ocasio-Cortez's comments come as Democratic presidential candidates including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren sound the alarm on wealth inequality and unequal access to education, healthcare, and other critical services.

Some of America's largest companies including Amazon, Walmart, and Disney have been accused in recent years of exploiting workers and failing to pay them a living wage.

Even Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and one of the world's wealthiest people, recently bemoaned stark inequality and argued "the rich should pay more."

Read the original article on Business Insider