This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Get The Real News Delivered To Your Inbox
Green Party’s Green New Deal, Plus Socialism
The purpose of this article is to take each of the four pillars of the Green Party’s summary of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal’ and give their main- and sub-points (in bold) a logical, data-driven analysis, supported by sources. In addition, because Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presented it in a bill to Congress, highlights from that are addressed too.
Two Versions – Same Deal
The Green Party’s ‘Green New Deal‘ is the basis for what Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez presented in a flubbed roll out. Basically, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez expanded upon the Green Party’s deal to include a veritable wish list of Socialist programs and policies to create a multi-page, non-binding Congressional resolution.
Embarrassingly, the roll out had two versions and errors posted to the internet before a clean up was done. Kindly, NPR’s article merely refers to the gaffe as “(Note: Ocasio-Cortez’s office released an updated version of the bill on Thursday. The earlier version, which we had included in a prior version of this story, is still available here.)”
Green Party’s Pillar I: Seven Points of the ‘Economic Bill of Rights’
America cannot truly move forward until the roots of inequality are pulled up, and the seeds of a new, healthier economy are planted. Thus, 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…
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.
As all non-socialists know, there is no ‘right to employment.’ There is an opportunity to take employment where you can find it. To that end, you have to have marketable skills, or be willing to learn them as you go, often making smaller wages until you do.
Few local government offices are in position to supplement a lack of private-sector jobs with a ‘job bank’ of public sector jobs (why not call it busy work or minimally active welfare?).
- Local communities will use a process of broad stakeholder input and democratic decision-making to fairly implement these programs.
This implies a majority will decide to pay more taxes to use for these new programs. This would not happen, in most cases.
- Pay-to-play prohibitions will ensure that campaign contributions or lobbying favors do not impact decision-making.
Again, they are assuming here that people will naturally choose to fund these programs. Some say ‘sure,’ others say ‘wishful thinking.’
- 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.
This sounds suspiciously like Karl Marx. Most reasonable people know how instilling a ‘living wage’ would turn out.
‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.’ – Karl Marx
2. Worker’s Rights, Including the Right to a Living Wage…
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.
Workplace safety is already a legal right, so is the right to unionize if enough people agree, but you can’t make them. Living wage laws just reduce workers, increase pricing and close businesses. This has already happened where it has been tried. Guaranteed employment? That’s not how free enterprise and Capitalism work, which is what America currently has.
By forcing affected contractors to pay employees more, living wages allow unions to get pay raises and job security they couldn’t get through traditional means. Because they apply to government contracts, they use governments’ ability to force taxpayers to bear increased costs, which unions couldn’t use in direct negotiations with private employers – Fraser Institute
3. The Right to Quality Health Care…
The right to quality health care which will be achieved through a single-payer Medicare-for-All program.
Estimates for such a system range from $32 to $38 Trillion over the first 10 years. Higher taxes for all as well. For a complete discussion, see here.
Medical transparency in pricing, with competition, would serve better. Competition in a free market (which is not our current state of things, special deals, hidden costs, local insurer restrictions, etc.) is far more efficient in any scenario. The only thing Governments do well is spend money.
‘It should be emphasized that reference pricing has caused actual price reductions, not merely slowdowns in the rate of price growth. This is the way markets are supposed to work.’ – HealthAffairs.org
4. The Right to a Tuition-Free, Quality, Federally Funded, Local Controlled Public Education System…
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.
The current system seems to be the worst of both worlds…compulsory, expensive and inefficient. Defaulting on $1.5 Trillion in debt cannot be waived away as so much fluff either. There would be consequences to the economy.
“…the rhetoric of school reform often ignores the crucial role of individual decisions (by students, by parents, by business owners, by educators) in determining educational outcomes. You can lead a horse to water, the old adage goes, but you can’t make him drink. It’s a folksy way of imparting an important individualist truth. Providing students opportunities at school does not guarantee success if students watch television rather than do their homework—and parents let them.” – Fee.org
5. The Right to Decent Affordable Housing…
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,
- 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.
Again, the endless font of government largesse. I thought they learned the lessons of government involvement in distressed mortgages. Low interest, government-subsidized loans for risky debtors, we’ve seen this before. Being lenders of last resort and guarantors of bank solvency is why the economy tanked in 2008. Let the banks fail and pay the cost of liberal loan requirements. Don’t force such requirements upon them and the system will adjust. How is it great to allow everyone to rent government housing if they can’t afford it. Wasn’t that the policy of the former Soviet Union? So were price controls, but they fit in with the rest of their system, as they pretended to work at their government jobs while the State pretended to pay them!
6. The Right to Accessible and Affordable Utilities…
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.
Universal utilities seem like a call for central ownership of everything, running them at cost for the good of the collective. Unfortunately, such a monopolistic system never delivers enough goods or services, has a history of shoddy to non-existent customer service and dis-incentivizes technical improvement. For a discussion on the negatives involved with the public ownership of what should be private utilities, please see Nber.org.
7. The Right to Fair Taxation That’s Distributed in Proportion to Ability to Pay…
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.
Again with a version of Marxism. The obvious disagreements apply.
Green Party’s Pillar II: Three Aspects of ‘A Green Transition’
The second priority … will convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible.
In the Green Party’s second pillar, one hears echoes of the Solyndra solar fiasco. Solyndra was a pet project of former President Obama who ‘invested’ $80 Billion of taxpayer money in the solar tech company. The company ended up not performing anything other than sucking up grants, giving demo tours and printing up slick pamphlets.
1. Invest in Green Business by Providing Grants and Low-Interest Loans…
Invest in green business by providing grants and low-interest loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives…
Green business grants in the Obama era was a bust all-around. Even the sympathetic Washington Post covered it unfavorably after reviewing “thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails.” The article quoted an ex-employee who said “It’s not about the people; it’s politics.” While the failed program was “meant to create jobs and cut reliance on foreign oil, Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials.”
One can only imagine what political shenanigans would happen next if this policy were to be recycled. How many more billions of taxpayer money could be siphoned into private pockets?
2. Prioritize Green Research by Redirecting Research Funds From Fossil Fuels…
Prioritize green research by redirecting research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in wind, solar and geothermal. …invest in research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
Simply declaring an entire industry as ‘dead-end’ does not make it so. No other energy technology can supply the level of energy needed to run our modern civilization. Solar and wind have tremendous issues with power storage and unreliability.
“Renewables face a declining value based on capacity, but as I pointed out earlier, that’s due to the intermittent nature of solar and wind power. Energy storage helps to smooth out those spikes, so excessive solar energy generated during the day can be used at other times.” – Engineering.com
Storing Wind and Solar Energy – Batteries
Energy storage is a big issue. The cost per pound and per amp-hour of batteries have improved, but still need improvement to compete with fossil fuels. Not to mention that the physical component – the battery itself – is not biodegradable.
“Batteries have changed a lot in the past century, but there is still work to do. Improving this type of energy storage technology will have dramatic impacts on the way Americans travel and the ability to incorporate renewable energy into the nation’s electric grid.” – Energy.gov
Are Nuclear Reactors the Answer?
A possible solution is to go Nuclear and build a lot more nuclear reactors. That is something the Green Party doesn’t want, even though safer reactors now exist. Or perhaps it is as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez clearly says: “We need to invent technology that’s never been invented yet.”
Perhaps the solution is producing Fusion Energy which has been ‘just around the corner’ now for decades. In theory, Fusion Energy would be revolutionary. After all, the sun shines; why can’t we make it happen in the lab? Unfortunately the technology to operate at ‘break-even,’ i.e. getting more energy out than it takes to make fusion work here on Earth, has so far eluded us. Society is stuck with using some form of fossil fuels until alternatives are perfected and utilized widely. Good thing the U.S. is now one of the major producers of Fossil Fuels for the foreseeable future.
“A new independent estimate of world oil reserves has been released by Rystad Energy, showing that the U.S. now holds more recoverable oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.” – rystadenergy.com
A thank you to the Trump administration is warranted.
Feeding Current Populace With 19th Century Capacity
It appears no one from the Green Party or Rep. Ocasio-Cortez understands that reducing our energy production capacity to 19th century levels might jeopardize most of the population. Feeding the current population requires an energy-intensive agriculture system using petroleum-based insecticides. Of course, Socialists don’t mind mass sacrifices to uphold their ideology.
Avoiding that fate would need more of those ‘not invented inventions,’ probably.
3. Provide Green Jobs by Enacting the Full Employment Program – Job Creation By Decree?
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.
Point three is a totally pie-in-the-sky prediction with the hope of many energy jobs. It is unlikely, but nobody knows. Such a vast array of sub-programs like ‘energy efficiency retrofitting’ and mass transit everywhere requires billions if not trillions in hardware expenditure and upkeep. We’ll wait for more ‘inventions’ here too.
Green Party’s Pillar III: Eight Ways to ‘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…
Relieve the debt overhang holding back the economy by reducing homeowner and student debt burdens.
“Another $1.5 Trillion or so to the debt. It’s only other people’s money, I’m sure they don’t mind!” – Pymts.com
2. Democratize Monetary Policy to Bring About Public Control of the Money Supply and Credit Creation…
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.
The Federal Reserve, which is neither, deserves to be broken up. The U.S. Constitution says they have to use gold and silver for money. We would be better off if they did that than continue with printing worthless money at the Treasury.
3. Break Up the Over-Sized Banks…
Break up the over-sized banks that are ‘too big to fail.’
This makes sense — even broken clocks are right twice a day.
4. End Taxpayer-Funded Bailouts for Banks, Insurers, and Other Financial Companies…
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.
Now we’re back into the state of delusion that government knows best. Smaller, private banks offer more competition, better rates and local control.
5. Regulate All Financial Derivatives…
Regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.
Transparency is always good. It remains to be seen whether derivative trading is causing more harm than good however. Basically they are bets on the rise and fall of prices of stocks, bonds, assets, and commodities at speeds mere citizen investors cannot compete with. Computerized trading lets the big investors in the industry do well almost no-matter the market.
6. Restore the Glass-Steagall Separation of Depository Commercial Banks
Restore the Glass-Steagall separation of depository commercial banks from speculative investment banks.
In and of itself, this a good move, but with limited fractional reserve banking allowed (i.e. they have to keep more assets on hand, rather than loan out 90 percent or more of what’s in their vault, limit it to five percent or some number that may slow things a bit, but will stabilize things as well). Somewhere there is a middle ground between all public banking and floating unbacked investments and loans. Senator John McCain was in favor of restoring it, so be wary of the details, there might be a reason not to!
7. Establish a 90 Percent Tax on Bonuses for Bailed Out Bankers…
Establish a 90 percent tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers.
What’s to stop them issuing bonuses that are ten times what they would have been to compensate? They could consider that the cost of doing business, though unwise. The government should not be in the business of dictating how many bonuses are given. If the shareholders get wind of any foul play, it is up to them to remove corrupt bank officials and secure a better bottom line. This may require further transparency, however.
8. Support the Formation of Federal, State and Municipal Public-Owned Banks…
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.
There was a reason Andrew Jackson (president on the $20 bill) disliked federal public-owned banks. He had them abolished from America.
Green Party’s Pillar IV: 8 Parts of a ‘Functioning Democracy’Y
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…
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.
Corporations are not persons. Protecting board members from the illegal actions of any entity they run is nothing more than cronyism. That being said, if a group of people decide to get together to run a business, and they keep their acts lawful, they should be able to spend their money as they please. Socialists arbitrarily decide that they know best how to spend other people’s money. Here’s another good reason for transparency.
2. Protect our Right to Vote by Supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s Proposed ‘Right to Vote Amendment’…
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.
Citizens over 18 with a Voter ID can vote, sure. I don’t know anyone that disagrees. I thought this was covered already by the 26th Amendment. Jackson’s proposed amendment is a backdoor negation of the electoral college. See Section 4 of his amendment! Do you want illegal aliens and minors to vote too? If so you will have a long, losing battle if justice prevails.
3. Enact the Voter Bill of Rights…
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;
Both are aspects of a great voting system. This doesn’t mean holding open the polls until one side gets to ‘find’ enough winning ballots to change the election though.
- Replace partisan oversight of elections with non-partisan election commissions;
Non-partisan election commissions sound fair enough. Since many oversight boards are secretive and partisan, they would need accountability.
- Celebrate our democratic aspirations by making Election Day a national holiday;
Every National Holiday costs the economy money. You should be able to show up to an open poll on voting day without being stuck at work, though. While forcing yet another holiday on employers probably wouldn’t fly, one can see letting people vote later in the day, even though it will mean longer nights of tallying votes for the counters. They should add more people and prepare for it. It might mean two shifts that one day.
- Bring simplified, safe same-day voter registration to the nation so that no qualified voter is barred from the polls;
This sounds reasonable as long as the ‘simplified, safe same-day voter registration’ goes along with a Voter ID that tells citizenship, with live computer connections to other voting districts to prevent multiple sign-ups on that day happens.
- 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;
A ‘winner take all’ election is not necessarily a bad thing. This is not how America’s Constitution and system is made to work, though. ‘Proportional Representation’ sounds a lot like getting rid of the Electoral College and voting only by popular vote. Most people would balk at that, for good reasons (see point 2 of this pillar, above).
- 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;
Does this mean tax-sponsored campaigns? That’s what it sounds like. This is an incredibly horrible idea, rife with corruption opportunities. Where do you draw the line between a ‘real’ candidate and the legion of loonies and grant-seeking opportunists? If they receive even one vote and you don’t provide them with equal access as well as funding, you have deprived someone of their new ‘right’ to be heard.
- Abolish the Electoral College and implement direct election of the President;
Again, this is a very bad idea. Pure Democracy is two wolves and a sheep discussing dinner options. There is a reason the U.S. has the Electoral College. It is to make sure the country isn’t run by the few populous cities only, with the rest of the nation being told to be quiet and go about providing taxes.
- Restore the vote to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society; and,
Uh, no. It was decided that such individuals have forfeited that right and would take a court battle, possibly to the Supreme Court, to decide this.
- 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.
Given it’s small size, why not absorb the District of Columbia as a county in Maryland or Virginia for voting and representation purposes? Other countries have their capitols in one of their districts, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. A 10 mile on each side square tract of land is not a state.
4. Protect Local Democracy and Democratic Rights…
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.
Protect democracy… now, you are getting into the very nature of America. If the subject is increased states’ right over federal involvement, that was the whole reason for the Civil War. Slavery was not the driving goal of the war. As much as he hated the institution of slavery, Lincoln didn’t see the Civil War as a struggle to free the nation’s 4 million slaves from bondage. This point alone would call for at least a Constitutional Convention if not a new Civil War to resolve. Hopefully, this is not going to happen.
5. Create a Corporation for Economic Democracy
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.
Basically turn everything over to the government in the name of the people? I think this has been tried, repeatedly, and without success. See France-1789, Russia-1917, China-1949, etc. No sale.
6. Strengthen Media Democracy…
Strengthen media democracy by expanding federal support for locally-owned broadcast media and local print media.
Government backed media outlets? Even PBS only gets a fraction of its funding from government. I thought we already had CNN, The Washington Post and so on. When they don’t broadcast/print what the government desires, should they be subject to having that support pulled away? This is what occurs you know.
“Media in Venezuela have long been subjected to censorship and threats. Before President Nicolás Maduro took power in April 2013, the government of Hugo Chavez routinely investigated and imposed sanctions on media outlets that spoke out against them. This was done not only to silence them, but also to encourage other organizations to censor themselves in fear of government reprisals.“ – Cjfe.org
7. Protect Our Personal Liberty and Freedoms…
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;
- 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,
Most citizens are with the Green Party here, though some may disagree with what constitutes ‘rights violations’ or in what ways DHS and the FBI conspires with local police. The FBI over-reaches their authority in some cases.
- Ending the war on immigrants – including the cruel, so-called ‘secure communities’ program.
There is no war on immigrants. America was built by immigrants. Oh, you mean illegal aliens, some being murderers, rapists and drug smugglers. Why should they be allowed in? There is a process to follow to enter America to work, be a citizen, etc. Many follow this, most of those are successful.
There is no inherent right for anyone on the planet to come to America for a better life. And, how many is enough? 10 Million? 100 Million? A Billion? Pretty soon (some say now), we will not have the resources to manage them or their effects on our population and economy.
Those that sneak in illegally are trespassing, deserving deportation. If they committed crimes while they were here, they need to suffer consequences. While we will always have illegal aliens, whether it be from VISA overstays to outright trespassing, a wall with sensors, patrolled by people in vehicles and drones, would be one of the most effective ways to minimize that number. Ask Israel, they know about border security! Walls have gates, ask nicely to come in! You don’t leave your house unlocked in case someone wants to sack out on the couch and raid your fridge do you?
8. Rein in the Military-Industrial Complex
Rein in the military-industrial complex by:
- Reducing military spending by 50% and closing U.S. military bases around the world;
Reining in the ‘military industrial complex’ is easier said than done. The U.S. has so many treaties and defense agreements now; it would take years to extricate ourselves from so many countries. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good thing in most cases, just not something to declare and walk away. Expect small steps.
- Restoring the National Guard as the centerpiece of our system of national defense; and,
Is the Green Party really discussing the elimination of all military services? We do need a National Defense, regardless of how big you think it should be. Collections of states’ National Guard forces are not designed to protect the nation as a whole, despite the name.
As for the National Guard, there is no reason to place them on duty with the rest of the military. They can start by taking shifts on all of America’s borders, protecting the nation. It is their job of course, not nation-building.
- Creating a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.
I believe this is what President Trump is doing, starting with North Korea.
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.
As long as that future doesn’t involve all this Socialism, it might someday occur.