On December 12th, the NY Post published an article about a 23-year old NYC paramedic who made an account on ‘OnlyFans.com’ to augment her EMS income. The site allows users to interact with their fans, including granting them access to pictures and videos for a standard monthly fee. In Ms. Kwei’s case, those pictures and videos were seductive and featured her athletic body. The article seemed neither slut-shaming nor flattering. In my opinion, the authors were simply looking for a story that would get a lot of clicks. And it worked. Perhaps a little too well.
Immediately following the article’s release, EMS providers, feminists, and many others came to Kwei’s defense and condemned the NY Post and the authors. The NY Daily News also published an editorial admonishing the NY Post and declaring that paramedics should simply be given more money, seemingly implying that money grows on trees. If paramedics were given more money, argued the Daily News and other progressives, they would not need to work two jobs.
Kwei posted on social media a few days later that the hit-piece by the publication wrongly painted her as a pervert who should not be trusted to treat patients in emergencies. In the long Facebook post, she told a compelling story explaining that she sees herself as a decent 23 year-old girl who moved to NYC from West Virginia with dreams of Broadway, but ultimately shifted her path to EMS and grew to love helping patients and serving her community. She was clearly worried about her job, fearful that the management of the EMS company for whom she worked (who identify as members of a religious group who highly value physical modesty) might fire her. Of course, earning money by selling pictures and videos does not mean that someone is a bad paramedic, and is not necessarily cause for termination.
Now that we have a bit of background, I would like to share my initial thoughts on the economics involved in this story.
Although she seemingly identifies as a socialist, Kwei looks like a pretty great capitalist to me.
Despite being in one of the welfare capitals of the US, Kwei chose hard work over redistribution of wealth from taxpayers, a path not chosen by far too many in NYC.
She chose to work in a restaurant, go to school, work some more, go to EMT school, work as an EMT, go back to paramedic school, work as a paramedic, and then work on the side to make extra money. To me, that all sounds like capitalism at its finest!
Why did she have to work so hard to make ends meet?
Because of anti-capitalist (socialist) policies created by New York politicians and other progressives. Such policies include massively high taxes (totally around 50% of income), minimum wage laws (which inflate prices of everything while simultaneously moving the earner into higher tax brackets, and ridiculous regulations (which cost employers from SCEMS to OnlyFans.com trillions of dollars per year which could otherwise be used to increase employee salaries).
Ironically, Alexandria Cortez, a New York socialist politician who believes in destroying the free market, tweeted her support for Kwei. The now-famous paramedic shared a screenshot of Cortez’ tweet and applauded her socialist commentary, condemning the evil ‘capitalist’ system that forced Kwei to take on a 2nd job to make ends meet:
“Leave her alone. The actual scandalous headline here is ‘Medics in the United States need two jobs to survive.’”, tweeted Cortez.
Like so many other adolescents, Kwei has seemingly been convinced by anti-freedom institutions from the media to the education system that capitalism is evil and the primary cause of all that is bad in this world. She likely believes that politicians should force businesses to pay more money and provide more benefits for their employees.
How would socialism affect Kwei’s financial situation?
Spoiler: It would not make her wealthier. Considering that her overall effective tax burden is likely in the neighborhood of 40%, socialism would make her taxes account for the majority of her income. As socialist policies forced employers to pay an ever-increasing amount of money to their workers, she would become more likely to be laid off each day. As it turns out, employers need to make ends meet, too. As these policies force more people out of work, socialist policies would allocate billions of dollars from taxpayers to those who don’t have jobs. Cortez actually loves eliminating good job opportunities for New Yorkers. This redistribution of wealth would continually shrink the tax base while growing the welfare base. This is why socialism always fails. Politicians eventually run out of others’ money.
What should the struggling paramedic do?
First, she should take stock of how fortunate she is; at $25/hour, she earns more than a majority of Americans. This is actually impressive for a 23 year-old. Additionally, she only spent around 18 months in school and likely has no student debt, putting her in a better financial position than many of the college-educated. What’s holding her back? The insane cost of living in NYC. That’s all.
Many states in the US have policies that are quite different from those found in the socialist mecca of NYC. New Hampshire, for example, features no general sales tax and no general income tax, low regulations, low government spending, and a culture of personal freedom. The result is a much lower cost of living and much higher wages. With a median household income of around $80,000 per year, New Hampshire is the highest (or among the highest) in the US. With the lack of a state income tax, New Hampshire workers likely take home more money than their counterparts in any other state – including New York.
As for paramedics, they could expect to earn as much or more than their peers in NYC. The comparisons of net incomes are not even close. Once cost of living is factored in, the comparison becomes so lopsided that New Yorkers would hide their faces in shame. New Hampshire citizens with Kwei’s same job could earn $60,000 to $100,000 per year.
Her side gigs and sexual activity are not nearly as worrisome to me as her confused view of free market economics and entitlement. Personally, I’m quite conservative. But politically, I support everyone’s natural rights to do whatever they want as long as they don’t violate other people or their property. I use everything at my disposal to earn money; I should not expect others to act any differently.
While clearly a hard worker, a financial success, and a capitalist at heart, young Lauren Kwei has a stark choice in front of her: will she embrace the socialist policies that she and her peers seem to support? Will she go so far as to apply for the 100 or so welfare programs in NYC and try to live off of taxpayer dollars? Or will she enjoy the beauty of the free market, enjoy her financial success, and take her valuable skills and experience to a more liberty-friendly state?