A Cold Hard Look at the Green New Deal
There are probably two facts that define me in my 60s: First, I am a committed leftist, just this side of socialist, in fact. (I acknowledge the truth of Capital, even as I lament and struggle against its excesses.) Second, I am a lukewarmer, accepting of science but lamenting and struggling against the excesses of the Konsensus of NGOs, lobbyists and writers such as Naomi Oreskes and pontificators such as Greta Thunberg.
A Green New Deal has been put forward in America for consideration. I have been considering it on a new blog I started (https://thegreennewwave.com/). As many (most?) of the readers of CliScep are of the Brit persuasion and skeptics to boot, I thought I would present some of my findings here for analysis by some of you who might not be partial to either of my defining characteristics.
At my new blog I do not try to argue the fitness of the Green New Deal–I take the position that if you want a GND, this is what it will look like.
And what it looks like is surprising.
The (rough) annual cost estimates of implementing the Green New Deal range from $2.65 trillion to $5.88 trillion. Almost all of the variance is due to the differences in estimates for healthcare.” (Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare For All will cost the government about $3.2 trillion a year, although the public’s bills will be lowered by a similar–some say greater–amount. Medicare for All Who Want It, the position put forward by moderates such as Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, will cost very little and may in fact lower government expenditures by as much as $12 billion a year.)
More surprising, the total annual spend on the non-environmental aspects of the Green New Deal for the high range estimates comes to $4.016 trillion. In other words, 68% of the annual cost of the Green New Deal is non-environmental.
As a Leftist Lukewarmer, this actually makes me more disposed to support the GND. The 40 million Americans living in poverty, the half a million struggling with occasional homelessness, the 200,000 rough sleepers–they need the updated New Deal that is included in the package. If asked for my opinion, I would say that the $1.8 trillion annual spend on the Green part of the Green New Deal would be better repackaged over a 30-year span instead of the 12 years demanded by activists.
But it makes me wonder why the Konsensus is so passionate about promoting the Green New Deal. Perhaps one of you will enlighten me.
Tom, it is do great to see you showing back up, and as always with interesting ideas and civilized posts.
Apocalypse is not just about destruction. It is about revealing the wonderful promised paradise after a cleansing struggle. Do combine the promise of a socialist paradise after the cleansing of the world of all the wicked sins and sinners of capitalism.
It is such a simple idea…no wonder it appeals to so many simple minds. Because whether or not educated, the ideas driving political climate are as naive as any fundamentalist pushing a literalist view of the last book in the Bible, or some imam pushing the 12th imam stuff.
The GND is about paradise, not climate. That socialism is the most failed governance/economic system since Absolute Monarchs doesn’t matter. It “cares”. I would make the bet, based on the consistently ignorant claims made by the hypesters pushing the GND that she doesn’t actually give a flip about climate. She likely just sees climate as a useful proxy for fire and brimstone to get the feckless masses ready to accept her gospel as presented in the GND for salvation.
That it can’t work, will never work and will make things worse is something she likely cannot even consider.
Tom, please advise if my reply was too wacked…it 8f it didn’t show up at all. Great post, glad to read more of your thought provoking work.
I must admit, the impression I got was that the Green New Deal is being promoted almost exclusively on environmental concerns, being designed in such manner as to avoid climate catastrophe. Of course, we all KNOW that it’s not REALLY about climate, it’s about re-designing the American economy along socialist lines. With the revelation that it’s 68% non-environmental, why don’t they just own up and call it the Socialist New Deal. I’m guessing it’s because that would go down like a ton of bricks in capitalist America and would be very unlikely to win the support of the majority, so they package it as an ‘urgent’ means of addressing a climate crisis which does not exist. Much the same as XR and their establishment cronies are doing on the streets of London.
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The Green New Deal is simply a manifesto for world communism, dressed up as socialism, further dressed up as an environmentalist cause (unsurprising, given how the environmentalist movement was hi-jacked by radicals in the 1960s, and have been contaminated ever since).
This is why climate alarmism is sooooooo important to the pluggers of the GND. They know that those of us with brains will see the GND for what it really is, hence the need for the anti-empirical, overly-emotional greenwash required to “explain” the GND. The gullible masses will fall for it.
Is the greenwash a smokescreen? Of course. But what would acknowledging as such say about the smokescreen’s “carbon emissions”?
Agree completely. At 70 years old have experienced enough IPCC predictions to doubt their truth.
There is a generation of Climate scientists peer reviewing each other to keep funding and defending the now shaky “consensus”. Also 500 international scientists recently wrote to the UN/IPCC disputing their latest report, Michael Mann just lost a court case related to his past hockey stick. Hope I live long enough to see the truth come out.
Hunterson7, I don’t see the comment you’re referring to–where is it? (Doubt if it’s whacky…)
40 million Americans living in poverty
For a definition of poverty that would not be understood by most Africans, as poverty. Nor most Latin Americans, for that matter. Actually, not by a large number of Europeans.
The 40 million is based on their income before welfare. As if the money they get in welfare isn’t real money. It’s a totally bullshit statistic.
H I Tom
you say – “I acknowledge the truth of Capital, even as I lament and struggle against its excesses”
not sure from that statement what you mean?
The word “Apocalypse” originally had to do with redemptive revelation, not the modern idea of global violence, death and destruction.
The scary parts of the last book of the Bible were written to show that despite the world being torn asunder the faithful would be preserved to join together and live in the City of God to be established on Earth.
In a sense the GND uses the same formula of scary predictions to get the faithful (and convert new faithful) to cooperate in the salvation they claim to believe socialism will bring. Clearly AOC doesn’t believe in the climate claptrap she spouts based on anything like an understanding of the science. She, like any naive ignorant fundamentalist pushing theocracy, is just looking for what she can use as a hook to get her proposal some traction. The GND, like any other government plan, will in reality have no impact on climate. CO2 doesn’t control climate, and the USA, under President Trump is the only country reducing CO2 without hurting the most vulnerable. The preposterous idea the GND proposes, to destroy the energy industry and electric utilities in favor of wind and solar as a way to help the poor is as much magical thinking as believing Mao when he directed the slaughter of all the field birds in China to help meet the rice quota.
Except for strong suppression and a complicit corrupt media, the revolt against “green” idiocy in France would be sweeping Europe. Those pesky deplorables in The Netherlands somehow started their own. Socialism, like any theocracy claiming to have the answer, has never worked. Capitalism may be the worst form of economy, except when compared to all the others.
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Your essay raises some good questions. I’ve now written three replies that seemed to have confirmed posting but don’t show up. No curse words, only sidebar mentions of AOC. Is there a filter against the word “apocalypse” maybe?
Or is there a possible pending cache things are stacking up in?
[Sorry, they got stuck in the spam bin somehow. Now released. Paul M.]
Thanks for the comments. I have a different view of the GND. To me it seems that climate alarmists did what they have done time and time again over the past 3 decades.
Recall that when conversations about biodiversity were more common, people like Matt Ridley (and myself) would argue that the threats to our biome were hunting/fishing, pollution, introduction of alien species and habitat destruction. But global warming alarmists jumped in and said that not only was global warming part of the biodiversity issue, it was top of the list and should be addressed first. Which was utter nonsense, but they said it loudly and with a Greta Thunberg scowl years before she was born.
Alarmists did this on a number of issues. Now they are welding their solutions to AGW to an economic platform which I largely support. Funnily enough, many parts of the Green section of the GND are also fine with me. Almost all of the economic part is too–I would like the US to achieve some of the successes that have happened in Europe.
Sadly, I think jamming it all together has made it less likely that progress will be achieved in either portfolio of proposed solutions.
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Paul M, thanks for unsticking the comments.
I appreciate your help.
I don’t think you are such an outlier here as you claim, except geographically of course. Several here have owned up to being left-leaning, and I don’t think your self-definition as a “lukewarmer” represents a significant difference from the rest of us. We all “accept the science,” and if I prefer the term “sceptic” it’s simply because it’s comprehensible to those outside the warmist/denialist war of words.
At your blog you quote the Ocasio-Cortez / Markey resolution as aiming to:
Up to the last sentence, I’m sure everyone here would agree with them. (Boris and Donald certainly would.) I’d only jib at higher education for all, since there’s no evidence that most people want it, and much evidence that it produces a peculiar mentality among some recipients, leading them to become opinionated and intolerant, and to perform unnatural acts like gluing themselves to buildings, vehicles, etc.
That said, I have difficulty seeing how the cost estimates you give at
support your argument for supporting the GND.
According to your calculations, a large part of the improvements on offer:- housing, education, training, upgrading of buildings etc. can be done for a measly $48 billion – next to nothing compared to the $0.8 trillion for a universal basic income, $1.8 trillion for the environment, and $3.2 trillion for medicare for all. Why not offer all that cheap stuff, which is incredibly attractive, hold back on the useless and unrealistic zero emission promises, and go back to the drawing board on the crazily costed medicare? (Despite poverty and opiates, Americans still have a high life expectancy – not as high as socialist Europe or arch-liberal Japan, but still reasonable – nothing that requires three trillion to fix.) Surely there’s room for a socialist to say: “I can do two thirds of what Ocasio-Cortez claims to do at 1% of the cost?”
I won’t argue with the fact that there is shocking poverty in the world’s richest country, but: only 200,000 rough sleepers in the USA? The number here in France is estimated at between 150,000 and 250,000 (though definitions may differ) – with a population a fifth that of the US, and a tax take approximately twice as high. If France’s huge spending on social services can’t solve the problem, why should a Green Deal?
HUNTERSON7 28 Oct 2019 3.38am
I agree with much of your argument (from the opposite end of the political spectrum.) If you’re right, and Ocasio-Cortez is using fear of climate catastrophe as bait to sell unpopular socialism, then she’s just as deluded as her conservative opponents. (Our French and British equivalents on the (far) left are subject to exactly the same delusion, and with far less excuse, since at least here in Europe there’s a solid socialist tradition to build on, which is less evident in the U.S.)
The two fundamental economic events of the past forty years have been the spectacular reduction of absolute poverty over the entire planet, coupled with the huge increase in the gap between rich and poor within countries. All the evidence points to recent and current protest movements being a result of both factors. The very poor can’t afford to protest; the much-less-well-off-than-their-compatriots can and will: in France, Lebanon, Chile, etc.
The Ocasio-Cortezes can’t see this. They’re too wedded to the modern media machine to be able to think outside it. Leftists of my generation were more difficult to brainwash because it cost money to plug into the MSM, whereas a six volume history of socialism was free at the local public library.
(I did lay out scarce pennies for the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” in the seventies – but how many idealistic young people would prefer the boring warnings a load of anonymous scientific experts to the passionate commitment of the American Wobblies or the volunteers of the International Brigade? All of them? Oh dear.)
The people protesting worldwide now are often doing so for apparently trivial reasons (a tax on instagram, a couple of cents on the price of a bus fare.) They are not demanding increased taxes to pay for a green new deal.
You make cogent points and I’m inclined to agree with your conclusions. I haven’t yet done so on the blog as I want to be as policy neutral as I can be–I want people to trust my numbers rather than question my opinions. Over here I can be a little looser 🙂
just realised what your comment may mean – “I acknowledge the truth of Capital, even as I lament and struggle against its excesses”
“Kurt Cobain’s famed green cardigan from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged concert sold for $334,000 (£260,388) at auction Saturday, establishing a new record for the most expensive sweater ever sold at auction and more than doubling its final-bid sale price from just four years ago.”
what a mad world we live in.
ps – @Tom
when you say “Almost all of the economic part is too–I would like the US to achieve some of the successes that have happened in Europe”
which parts of Europe do you think is a success & why?
THOMASWFULLER2 28 Oct 2019n 11.12pm
By all means, be as loose as you like. On Medicare I have no ax(e) to grind. I’ve had my life saved by the expensive French system (which wouldn’t have happened if my papers hadn’t been in order) and have seen at first hand the generosity of the British system, which creakingly tries to treat everyone equally, resulting in a huge resentment among the natives who feel that they’re paying for a system exploited by undeserving immigrants. My experience of the American system is limited to a reading of the medical literature which I used in teaching English to nursing students in France. Much more civilised and humane than their British equivalents, but at what cost to the average American paying a fortune for his health insurance?
When you can’t know whether a change is going to cost 3 trillion dollars or net zero (once the savings of abolishing a predatory insurance system are realised) you have in all honesty to change the debate, and separate it from the rest: from the cheap, easy to do stuff improving infrastructure for a few billion, and from the expensive and useless green stuff.
The main argument I see against Ocasio-Cortez on alt-right sites (which are my main sources of honest information these days) is that she is a socialist. That’s not my beef. She’s young, and ignorant of basic economics, and obsessed with the climate thing which she thinks justifies radical change. How to explain that radical change is justified, but more difficult than she thinks, and entirely independent of whether the temperature rises one or three or zero degrees over the next century?
JAIME JESSOP says:
27 Oct 19 at 8:28 am
>Of course, we all KNOW that it’s not REALLY about climate, it’s about re-designing the American economy along socialist lines.
This is the usual US misuse of the term ‘Socialist’. In Europe, the GND would not be seen to be far out of place in a centre-left, or in some countries centre-right, party manifesto. But even these European expressions don’t get near the essentials of socialist, which at its heart is a bottom-up movement akin to anarchism. It is certainly not at all like the planned policial economy run by corporate elitist that has been advocated by the AOC faction in the US.
Yes–in fact, the comparison I make at the GND blog is between a successful completion of the GND and Norway. I guess Norway isn’t perfect, but there are worse places…
So here is a recent interview with Piers Corbyn that is worth listening to.