Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I see that Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Bernie Sanders are pushing something called a “Green New Deal”, so I thought I’d take a look. The Hill has a piece entitled “Progressives say dire climate reports point to need for ‘Green New Deal’“, and the Atlantic magazine has an article on it headlined “The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting“. Make climate policy exciting? Well, I guess so, but only if you consider economic suicide exciting …
Here are the details of the wonderful green climate deal, right from the horse’s mouth … oh, wait, vegans say we can’t use animal metaphors. So here are the details of the deal, right from the orange’s navel … it has “Four Pillars”, and the first Pillar is their “Economic Bill of Rights”.
Be clear that all opinions expressed below are my own, not those of Watts Up With That, of Charles The Moderator, or of anyone involved with the blog. So please don’t burn up their email with complaints—instead, put them in the comment section below. Ready? Hold your noses, put on your hip boots, we’re ready to wade in …
THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL
I – THE ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS
The Green New Deal begins with an Economic Bill of Rights that ensures all citizens:
1. The right to employment through a Full Employment Program that will create 25 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, but locally controlled direct employment initiative replacing unemployment offices with local employment offices offering public sector jobs which are “stored” in job banks in order to take up any slack in private sector employment.
• Local communities will use a process of broad stakeholder input and democratic decisionmaking to fairly implement these programs.
• Pay-to-play prohibitions will ensure that campaign contributions or lobbying favors do not impact decision-making.
• We will end unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work.
End unemployment in America? Create 25 million taxpayer-funded positions?
Let’s look at that. In 2017, about 125 million people were employed in the US on a full-time basis. Ms. O-C and Mr. Sanders propose in their Green New Deal that those 125 million people pay the salaries of some 25 million workers … implying that if they are to get the average wage, all working Americans will have to pay an additions 20% tax on their income to fund the program. Oh, yeah, people are gonna totally be up for that … median household income is $62,000, so on average, each household will have to pony up $12,000 to employ those 25 million people.
Next, why are these people unemployed? We have more jobs in the US right now than people looking for jobs. The people left without jobs are folks with some kind of reason, valid or not, that they are not working—disabled, don’t need a job, untrustworthy, criminal, live with their parents, unreliable, trust-fund babies, lazy … not your ideal workforce.
Remember, the last time we had a New Deal we had thousands and thousands of hard-working people wanting jobs who couldn’t find a job. But now, to the contrary, we have thousands and thousands of jobs wanting people that can’t find people … hardly the same.
Next, what will these 25 million people do? Remember, we can’t have them doing what other people are already doing, because that will put existing workers out of a job. So we will have to invent new tasks for them … which they’ve done. Per Ms. Occasional-Cortex’s Green Nude Eel, as reported in the Atlantic:
It promises to give every American a job in that new economy: installing solar panels, retrofitting coastal infrastructure, manufacturing electric vehicles.
Look. If solar panels and windmills were economically viable, we wouldn’t have to subsidize them. There’s a reason that solar and wind, even with huge subsidies, haven’t made a dent in our electricity generation. They are hideously expensive, and you still need to build regular power plants for the times when the wind and sun don’t show up … putting people to work building them is just another kind of subsidy.
And “build electric vehicles”??? The US Government, which can’t make a profit from the Post Office, is going to go into the electric vehicle business by hiring a bunch of people who can’t find a real job and going head to head with Toyota? Oh, yeah, you gotta know that’s totally legit …
The madness continues:
2. Worker’s rights including the right to a living wage, to a safe workplace, to fair trade, and to organize a union at work without fear of firing or reprisal.
Now, Ms. O-C has tweeted the following:
It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about “fiscal responsibility.”
I see. Her House of Representatives salary is what she thinks of as a living wage … and how much will she be making?
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR PLUS BENEFITS AND A PENSION AFTER ONLY 5 YEARS.
That’s a “living wage” on her planet … and she thinks every worker deserves that.
Here’s the ugly truth. Some workers are not worth $5 per hour. Some are not worth $10 per hour. And no, I am NOT interested in pretending that those folks have a RIGHT to make a big salary or a living wage. You have to EARN your salary, you don’t have a “right” to anything like that. If you think that mandating a minimum wage helps people, please read Ending Poverty In America.
Finally, we already have laws about safe workplaces and union organization … and I have no clue what she means by “fair trade”.
3. The right to quality health care which will be achieved through a single-payer Medicare-for-All program.
This is the program which is estimated to cost 32 trillion for ten years, or 3.2 trillion per year. And if every other government program is any guide, it will cost much more than that. Now, we have 126 million people employed in the US. So on average, each employed person will have to pay about $25,000 per year in order to pay for Medicare For All. This is in addition to the $12,000 they’re already paying for the Full Employment Madness …. we’re up to $37,000 per worker already …
4. The right to a tuition-free, quality, federally funded, local controlled public education system from pre-school through college. We will also forgive student loan debt from the current era of unaffordable college education.
Could we start by not lying about “tuition-free” and call it by its real name, “taxpayer-paid”? Honesty is a good thing in politics, however rare it might be.
Next, there are currently some 17 million students in college. Tuition averages on the order of $20,000 per year. Of course, the poor suffering 126 million employed people have to pay for that as well. That works out to a mere $2,700 per year … plus the $37,000 per year they’re already paying, so we’re up to about $40,000 per worker already to pay for their green fantasies …
5. The right to decent affordable housing, including an immediate halt to all foreclosures and evictions. We will:
• create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants;
• expand rental and home ownership assistance;
• create ample public housing; and,
• offer capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income.
Can I tell you how tired I am of people inventing new “rights”? We’re just getting started, and already we’ve been told that people have the right to a taxpayer-paid job, a living wage, a safe workplace, a union, fair trade, taxpayer-paid healthcare, taxpayer-paid college tuition, and affordable housing … and they’re not done yet.
Here’s the truth. We have the rights given by the Constitution. We have the “inalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable search, and the other rights given in the Bill Of Rights.
And at this point, that is it. That’s all of our rights. And please note—NONE of those rights require the taxpayers to give us money. Not one of them.
We do NOT have a “right” to have the taxpayers put us through college, or pay our medical bills, or provide us with a job. We may indeed decide to do those things, or not do them … but they are absolutely not “rights”. That’s pompous posturing at the taxpayer’s expense.
With that out of the way, affordable housing is a tough nut to crack. To start with, as a builder myself and the son of an architect, I can assure you that here in California it is incredibly difficult to build a house. There is a dizzying array of zoning, building, environmental, septic, lot-size, and other city, county, and state restrictions on building. Each one of these restrictions pushes up the cost of building and contributes to the lack of affordable housing. And none of their high-sounding proposals, not one of them, even touches on any of those problems.
Next, “halt all foreclosures and evictions”? Have they lost their everlovin’ minds? If you make evictions impossible, PEOPLE WILL STOP PAYING RENT, duh. And the same is true if you make foreclosure impossible—people will stop paying their mortgages, and banks will stop loaning money.
The ignorance, it burns …
Next, “create ample public housing”? Please point out where that has worked. The public housing projects in New York and other major cities have been horrible crime-ridden failures.
Finally, “capital grants” for developers? … why do these good folks assume that to solve any problem all you have to do is throw money at it? Under their plan so far each employed person has to put up $40,000, and they now want to give grants of taxpayer money to developers … what could go wrong?
6. The right to accessible and affordable utilities – heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation – through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit.
What is a “democratically run” business? Do all the employees vote on every business decision? And why would we assume that a government monopoly will deliver cheaper services than businesses in competition? The mind reels …
7. The right to fair taxation that’s distributed in proportion to ability to pay. In addition, corporate tax subsidies will be made transparent by detailing them in public budgets where they can be scrutinized, not hidden as tax breaks.
“Distributed in proportion to ability to pay”??? How on earth can we determine someone’s “ability to pay”? Someone could make a lot of money but be supporting both parents and children; another person makes money but spends most of it on women and boats and wastes the rest … while a third person scrimps so their living costs are very small. Which one has the greater “ability to pay”? I don’t even understand what they mean by that.
Next, what are “corporate tax subsidies”? If they mean the tax laws, how are they not transparent? They are written down so they can be enforced, they are totally transparent. Anyone can go online and look them up …
So that’s the First Pillar. The Second Pillar is “A Green Transition” …
II – A GREEN TRANSITION
The second priority of the Green New Deal is a Green Transition Program that will convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible. We will:
1. Invest in green business by providing grants and low-interest loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors.
Oh, man, these folks learned absolutely nothing from the Obama green boondoggle. Remember Solyndra? Obama provided them with half a billion dollars worth of taxpayer money, and they went belly-up. And Solyndra was far from the only such waste of taxpayer money. The US Government has a horrible record of choosing which businesses to support. In Solyndra’s case, guess what? The owners were pals of Obama and his friends … surprising, I know. Go green!
This brings up another issue. The Founding Fathers were smart in that they didn’t trust anyone. That’s why we have three branches of government—so they can watch each other and keep each other straight.
Modern lawmakers, on the other hand, seem to think that everyone is a noble, upstanding citizen. So they propose things like “ending evictions” when a moment’s thought reveals that people will just scam that all day long. And the same is true with this kind of government largesse—it invites and encourages corruption.
And guess what?
If you invite corruption … it will come …
2. Prioritize green research by redirecting research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in wind, solar and geothermal. We will invest in research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
Fossil fuels are a “dead-end industry”? I want some of what these people are smoking … fossil fuels have lifted billions of people out of poverty. Fossil fuels protect us from the ravages of nature and enable our modern lifestyles. Far from being a “dead-end industry”, they are the basis and foundation of our modern world.
Anyone making that claim about a “dead-end industry” should be permanently banned from giving any kind of economic advice or making any economic decisions forever. These folks are happy to enjoy all that fossil fuels bring us, and then they work to kill what makes them wealthy. That kind of stupidity should not be rewarded.
Next, we have already subsidized wind and solar to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, and they are STILL not economically competitive. The idea that a few more billions spent on research will make it all come right is a sick joke.
3. Provide green jobs by enacting the Full Employment Program which will directly provide 16 million jobs in sustainable energy and energy efficiency retrofitting, mass transit and “complete streets” that promote safe bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing.
My local town, Sebastopol, just did their best to “promote safe bike traffic” by closing half of the only through-town north-south street to automobiles, and reserving it for bicycles. Me, I love my mountain bike, I’m a dedicated rider … but in all the times I’ve gone through the semi-permanent new traffic jam caused by closing off half of the street, I have yet to see one single bike rider using the bike half of the street … not one.
And sadly, this is typical of these kinds of pie-in-the-sky green dreams. They are so concerned with green and renewable and good feelz that they don’t notice that they have jammed up all the traffic, 24/7/365, for absolutely no gain. Go green!
Then we have the Third Pillar of the Green New Deal, viz:
III – REAL FINANCIAL REFORM
The takeover of our economy by big banks and well-connected financiers has destabilized both our democracy and our economy. It’s time to take Wall Street out of the driver’s seat and to free the truly productive segments of working America to make this economy work for all of us. Real Financial Reform will:
1. Relieve the debt overhang holding back the economy by reducing homeowner and student debt burdens.
Huh? How do they propose to “reduce homeowner and student debt burdens”? Are they going to pay off the debt using taxpayer money? And if so, won’t that “hold back the economy” by impoverishing the workers?
People sometimes make stupid decisions, like taking a student loan to study Underwater Basket Weaving or getting a degree in anything with the word “Studies” in the title. Of course, when they graduate they can’t find a job, so they can’t pay off the loan for a long time.
It’s not clear to me how to fix that historical problem. They borrowed the money and they spent it. Unless they pay it back, somebody’s gonna lose …
What I would do going forward, on the other hand, is to restrict the use of student loans to people going into STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine), or going to technical schools to learn skills like welding. Those folks will get jobs and will be able to pay the loan back.
As to homeowners, if you can’t afford to pay the mortgage, sell the dang house! How complex can it be?
2. Democratize monetary policy to bring about public control of the money supply and credit creation. This means we’ll nationalize the private bank-dominated Federal Reserve Banks and place them under a Monetary Authority within the Treasury Department.
I don’t understand this one. “Democratize monetary policy”?? It simply makes no sense. Someone else will have to explain it, I can’t.
3. Break up the oversized banks that are “too big to fail.”
That one actually might be worth discussing.
4. End taxpayer-funded bailouts for banks, insurers, and other financial companies. We’ll use the FDIC resolution process for failed banks to reopen them as public banks where possible after failed loans and underlying assets are auctioned off.
They keep talking about “public banks” and “democratic banking” and such. Again, I don’t understand that.
Also, I’m glad the US bailed out the banks because it kept the global financial crisis from getting far worse. What I didn’t like was that after we bailed them out, we didn’t require them to pay back every penny … but bailing them out was the right move.
5. Regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.
I thought that all financial derivatives were already regulated, but I could be wrong.
6. Restore the Glass-Steagall separation of depository commercial banks from speculative investment banks.
This is the first reasonable proposal that they’ve made. I notice that they didn’t mention that the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed under President Clinton … likely an oversight …
7. Establish a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers.
Second reasonable proposal. I didn’t like the CEOs of bailed-out banks getting bonuses.
8. Support the formation of federal, state, and municipal public-owned banks that function as non-profit utilities. Under the Green New Deal, we will start building a financial system that is open, honest, stable, and serves the real economy rather than the phony economy of high finance.
The “real economy” rather than the “phony economy of high finance”? What on earth does that mean? What is “high finance”? How is it not “real”?
And public-owned banks? I’m not seeing any advantage in that. People involved in private banks have skin in the game. If they fail, the owners lose money. But people involved in publicly owned businesses of any type have no skin in the game—if they fail, nobody gets fired, nobody gets demoted, nobody loses money.
And that is a recipe for failure.
Finally, we get to the Fourth Pillar of the Green Bad Deal …
IV – A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY
We won’t get these vital reforms without a fourth and final set of reforms to give us a real, functioning democracy. Just as we are replacing the old economy with a new one, we need a new politics to restore the promise of American democracy. The New Green Deal will:
1. Revoke corporate personhood by amending our Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. Those rights belong to living, breathing human beings – not to business entities controlled by the wealthy.
People are always shouting that the Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations to have and promote political opinions was a mistake. But consider—if that is repealed, the following groups will NOT be able to be involved in the political process in any manner whatsoever, because they are all corporations:
Political Action Groups
Radio and TV stations
Non-Governmental Organizations like Greenpeace or Save The Children
You sure that’s what you want?
Also, corporations are not persons—they can’t get engaged, get married, go to the bathroom, vote in elections, or do a host of things that people can do. They do have certain limited powers, to do things like sign contracts, to own property, to have employees, etc. This points out the one tiny problem with their proposal—getting rid of these person-like powers would destroy our entire economic system.
You sure that’s what you want?
Whoever put forward point number one above hasn’t thought this through.
2. Protect our right to vote by supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s proposed “Right to Vote Amendment,” to clarify to the Supreme Court that yes, we do have a constitutional right to vote.
Mmmm … I’d never heard of it, so I went to take a look. Not impressed. Constitutional amendments need to be restricted to critically important things and should be crystal clear. To my eye, that one is neither.
3. Enact the Voter Bill of Rights that will:
guarantee us a voter-marked paper ballot for all voting;
require that all votes are counted before election results are released;
replace partisan oversight of elections with non-partisan election commissions;
celebrate our democratic aspirations by making Election Day a national holiday;
bring simplified, safe same-day voter registration to the nation so that no qualified voter is barred from the polls;
do away with so-called “winner take all” elections in which the “winner” does not have the support of most of the voters, and replace that system with instant runoff voting and proportional representation, systems most advanced countries now use to good effect;
replace big money control of election campaigns with full public financing and free and equal access to the airwaves;
guarantee equal access to the ballot and to the debates to all qualified candidates;
abolish the Electoral College and implement direct election of the President;
restore the vote to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society; and,
enact Statehood for the District of Columbia so that those Americans have representation in Congress and full rights to self rule like the rest of us.
This is a mixed bag of mostly vague thinking. Some things are good. Paper ballots are good. Non-partisan election commissions are good. Making Election Day a national holiday is good as long as it is an unpaid holiday.
Other things are far too vague. “Full public financing” of elections sounds good, but the devil is in the details—who gets the money, and how much? And “free and equal access to the airwaves” … same problem. Does some American Nazi Party candidate with 735 followers get public funding and free access? If not … why not? Do we only fund politicians we approve of? Lots of thorny questions in there.
And some ideas are just horrible. Abolishing the Electoral College is one of them. It’s there for a very good reason. The Founding Fathers knew that if they had direct election of the President, the voters of the most populous state (Virginia at the time) would elect every single President, and the voters in the smaller states would never make any difference at all.
And the same considerations have stayed true through the years right up until today. Without the Electoral College, Abraham Lincoln would never have been President … very, very bad idea.
4. Protect local democracy and democratic rights by commissioning a thorough review of federal preemption law and its impact on the practice of local democracy in the United States. This review will put at its center the “democracy question” – that is, what level of government is most open to democratic participation and most suited to protecting democratic rights.
The “Federal preemption law” says that when Federal and State law conflict, the Federal law prevails. I’m not sure why these folks think that is a problem … always more to learn.
5. Create a Corporation for Economic Democracy, a new federal corporation (like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.
“More participatory”? We’re going to spend billions of dollars to make businesses “more participatory”? What does that even mean? What is a “participatory” business? These folks are too much for me. They also want more cooperatives. I’ve been involved with a bunch of co-ops in my time, and my rule of thumb about co-ops is “For cooperatives to work, people have to … you know … cooperate …” Once they solve that, get back in touch, and we’ll discuss co-ops …
6. Strengthen media democracy by expanding federal support for locally-owned broadcast media and local print media.
The Public Broadcasting System in our area acts like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. But the party’s not the point. It would be just as bad if it were a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. Government media have been forces for propaganda as long as they’ve existed, and the PBS is no exception. Sorry, but I do NOT want more taxpayer support of the media. And once again, it’s not “federal support”, it is TAXPAYER SUPPORT! … you remember the taxpayer, the poor schlub that this green dream has already burdened with $40,000 per year in new costs? …
7. Protect our personal liberty and freedoms by:
repealing the Patriot Act and those parts of the National Defense Authorization Act that violate our civil liberties;
I’m OK with that.
prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI from conspiring with local police forces to suppress our freedoms of assembly and of speech; and,
Huh? I have no clue what this is talking about. The people suppressing our freedom of assembly and speech these days are the fascists of Antifa …
ending the war on immigrants – including the cruel, so-called “secure communities” program.
There is no “war on immigrants”. This is the usual liberal technique of conflating “immigrants” and “illegal immigrants”.
Nor is there a war on illegal immigrants. They are here illegally, and people are enforcing the laws against that. That’s called “following the law”, not “war”.
8. Rein in the military-industrial complex by
reducing military spending by 50% and closing U.S. military bases around the world;
Mmmm … international diplomacy is never simple. I’m with Teddy—speak softly and carry a big stick.
restoring the National Guard as the centerpiece of our system of national defense; and,
Wait, what? When was the National Guard the “centerpiece” of our national defense?
creating a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.
I guess so, although I don’t see this as a huge priority.
Let us not rest until we have pulled our nation back from the brink, and until we have secured the peaceful, just, green future we all deserve.
A “just, green future”? Man, I have had it up to my back teeth with the word “green” being used as the ultimate in virtue signaling. This proposal has nothing to do with “green”. It is a liberal pipe-dream which would bankrupt the country and would do nothing for either the climate, the economy, or the environment.
Man, hacking my way through this colossal pile of bovine waste-material has angrified my blood mightily. Midnight. I gotta go outside and walk around some, see the stars, let the wind blow in my hair. Catch up with y’all later …
Best wishes all around,