On the Green New Deal

The freshmen class of Democratic representatives (and one or two on the Republican side of the aisle) came up with this nice little legislative proposal to attack global warming head-on, and deal with a few other pet social and economic issues.

As a set of policy goals or a proposed platform, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points. As a detailed legislative package, well, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points….

And it doesn’t help that its backers, so far, seem to be adopting the tactic of browbeating the opposition until they cry “Uncle!” and give up. Hanging out in the halls of Congress harassing people isn’t going to win them over to your side. Yes, the matter is extremely urgent, but why not come up with a better approach – one that explains the dangers if we don’t do anything, gives some ideas about what will have to be done to avoid that fate, and makes the necessary steps more palatable?

Enough research has been done on the potential threats from global warming to allow us to make good guesses on a regional basis. What will happen to Florida’s tourism when there’s a 20 foot sea wall between the coastal cities and the Atlantic? “Hey, Idaho, nice ski resorts you have there. Shame if they ever ran out of snow…” “Louisiana, you’ve been having about 5 cases of dengue fever a year over the past decade. Are you ready to multiply that by a factor of ten?” Provide actual dollar costs to the state economy. Make it local to make it harder to brush off as an “it can’t happen here” thing.

Describe the plans to fight global warming. There will have to be billions in subsidies to ‘green’ energy sources, and the same for R&D into improving existing technologies – and creating new ones. Point out the massive scope of the endeavor will cover all parts of the energy sector, from more wind and solar plants to upgrading the national grid to carbon sequestration methods to alternate energy sources like geothermal and nuclear (yes, even nuclear – there’s no reason it cannot play a role in the transition period).

Don’t say you’re putting in penalties and raising taxes. Call it “disincentives” for old, fossil fuel technologies and “reintroducing” taxes (i.e. removing tax cuts and closing loopholes) on those who can best afford it, because they are wealthy enough to personally be able to avoid the worst effects of the transition. Someone who can afford to move to a cooler clime can surely afford to pay a little more to help those who cannot, right? Wouldn’t corporations rather pay a bit more in taxes now than have their entire supply chains (and customer base, too) disrupted in the near future?

The Green New Deal also includes a handful of social welfare programs, but the way they are stated makes it look like they are typical Liberal/”Socialist” ideals, unrelated to the main proposals. That needs to be fixed. The plan to completely overhaul a large sector of the economy in a necessarily short period is going to cause a heck of a lot of economic disruption. Rephrase the points to emphasize that the idea is to offer economic support to those who will be most adversely affected by this. And the points that are purely ‘social justice’ can probably be dropped – or at least downplayed.

And don’t forget that the general public needs to have all this explained, too. They are the ones who are going to have to actually make the required sacrifices. Surely there’s someone in the ‘movement’ that can help you with marketing all of this….

Last of all, don’t expect to get everything you want. FDR’s original “New Deal” ran into a lot of legal challenges and changed a lot by the time the programs took effect. LBJ’s “Great Society” likewise turned out to be quite different than what was proposed. The Green New Deal is as sweeping as they were, with the added difficulty of having the urgency of the Manhattan Project. It’s not going to be easy.

But if it’s a goal worth fighting for, it’s worth being smart about the fight.

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