Problem: Does Fiscal Sustainability Not Matter to Progressives?
Posted On October 16, 2019
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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How Dare You!
The resurrected socialist spirit of modern times can be summed up as such: less is more and those who have more must be punished because they are the reason for our suffering. Whether you hear this from the caterwauling “Occupy Wall Street” losers protesters, drooling ignoramuses Bernie-bots, or most recently from the acolytes of pre-teen climate change activist “how dare you” Greta Thunberg. The liberal creed is loud and clear, saying we must have less today so that generations to come can have more in the future.
Progressives have adopted this “less is more” stance on just about everything. From amassing wealth to using straws, the same recycled ideas from the rotten age of Marxism never seem to contradict the liberal feel-good process. For example, if we want our children to enjoy clear air, water, and food in the distant future, we must necessarily sacrifice something today. Never mind any type of voluntary action, because what we desperately need is the government taxing us to forcefully change our behavior.
Other reports have estimated the price tag to be between $51 to $93 trillion dollars. Not billion, but trillion dollars. Suddenly the same vehement logic of sustainability for the sake of future generations doesn’t seem to apply anymore to fiscal affairs and economics.
After all, the great 16-year old climate expert Greta Thunberg reminded us how our actions today are stealing childhood from somebody, somewhere, somehow, at some point in the future. How dare we question such impeccable, and most importantly noble, emotional outburst!
Playing on Emotion
For the sake of constructive discussion on public policy, let us take this liberal creed at its face-value and ask from these emotionally ebullient advocates of social justice what we need to do in the sense of actual policy-making. The answer apparently falls somewhere between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal package and going back to the pre-Industrial Revolution era. The latter is simply out of the question because it is impossible for millennials to imagine life without avocado toast and $10 lama-milk lattes from Starbucks. In that case, we must choose Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, because apparently after revising Al Gore’s missed dooms-day predictions, we only have 12 more years before Armageddon.
This Green New Deal aims to bring U.S green-house emissions down to net-zero, while transforming the whole US economy into a 100% renewable energy consumption model by 2030. Somehow the authors of this ambitious proposal managed to add government guaranteed jobs to everyone, free education, and other social justice “freebies” to the bill. But hey, we’ve got to act boldly because in 12 years we’re all dead.
All this sounds nice and fuzzy, but how much would this cost? We can already hear Greta Thunberg’s followers foaming, asking, “how dare we ask such nonsensical questions when the future is at stake!” Given the inconvenient fact that the US currently gets 80% of its energy from coal, petroleum, and natural gas, it is a fair question to ask how much a transition to Green New Deal would cost. The proposal itself does not mention explicitly how much these “fine” ideas would cost.
This is a very convenient way to propose a bill to change the trajectory of US society without having to estimate a cost of doing so. Other reports have estimated the price tag to be between $51 to $93 trillion dollars. Not billion, but trillion dollars. Suddenly the same vehement logic of sustainability for the sake of future generations doesn’t seem to apply anymore to fiscal affairs and economics.
Intellectually Lazy Economics
Progressives want more government debt to finance programs that they deem important for the sake of future generations. At the same time, however, the same voices do not seem to bother themselves with fiscal sustainability and ignore that these extravagant debts must be paid by people who aren’t even born yet. Do these individuals have a say on what we do today when it comes to paying for these wasteful government policies? Of course not, because the concept of environmental sustainability applies to ideas that the Left generates while leaving the problem of fiscal sustainability to all of us in the future. Where does such intellectually lazy economic thinking emerge from?
It should not come as a surprise that the US educational system is merely an indoctrination camp where the youth is programmed not to think critically, but feel strongly on issues that the Left talks about. For instance, many American colleges now have a curriculum system in which students are encouraged, if not forced, to attend a variety of sustainability-themed courses in order to link personal decisions with environmental advocacy.
Economics is often an elective course even though coherent policy analysis – be it environmental or any other – requires sound understanding of economics. Consequently, our education system produces supposedly highly educated individuals who based their policy analysis or advocacy on false “feel-good” emotional premises rather than rigorous economic reasoning.
In conclusion, it is obvious that the idea of sustainability is seldom applied to fiscal affairs because if done so, the environmental movement – lead by teenagers – would inevitably crumble. No Liberal will ever talk about the costs of their proposed solutions because costs cannot be wished away, nor does money grow in trees. Ironically it sure would help if progressives in and outside university campuses would start talking about fiscal sustainability today instead of tomorrow.
Henri Erti is a writer for NRN. Born in former USSR Estonia, he escaped communism to neighboring Finland where he learned first hand about the atrophying effects of socialism. Erti studied international business in Brevard College (NC) and completed graduate studies in international political economy at Dubrovnik International University (Croatia).