Let me start with a story or two about World War II.
One visit home, we asked my parents what they remembered of the home front; both were born in ’39 so these would have been early-childhood memories. Neither of them had parents away fighting in the war (Mom’s dad was too old; Dad’s dad was in an essential-to-the-war-effort job), and nothing about it made any impression on Mom, but Dad remembers being sent out to buy groceries and losing the ration book along the way, which caused great trauma and I don’t really remember if he every described how it was resolved. (Yes, small children really were sent out to the store.)
Because, as you may or may not recall from history books or movies or television or family history, the manufacture of tanks and airplanes and Jeeps parachutes and military uniforms, and the production of food to be sent overseas came at a cost, as an endless array of food and consumer goods were rationed, with purchases strictly limited and families encouraged to grow food in “victory gardens” to make up for it. (Dad and his family were better off in that respect, because in addition to his dad’s factory job at Gates Rubber Factory, they had a small farm on which they grew produce and raised chickens. Unless, that is, the ration-ers knew that and subtracted this out.)
Tires were rationed, and gas was rationed. Clothing was rationed. Women’s nylons were rationed so they could make parachutes. Books were rationed (have you seen wartime books with the notice that they conform to rationing requirements?).
And this, so far as I can tell, is the future Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes envisions for us with her Green New Deal.
That being said, let’s look at the Green New Deal, as released today (or here, if the prior link becomes invalid) via a House resolution and a supporting FAQ document. It’s being defended in terms such as, “well, you have to understand that this is aspirational,” but even with that caveat it still makes no sense.
So let’s look at it, shall we?
The Green New Deal resolution a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all.
“Mobilize.” “At a scale not seen since World War 2.” This is not voluntary.
This is a plan to get the United States to “net” 0 emissions [of greenhouse gasses], by means of “creat[ing] the renewable energy economy as fast as possible.” (I am guessing the “net” part means tree-planting carbon offsets, though it doesn’t specify.) This means eliminating “farting cows” and airplanes (though with the concession that this may take longer than 10 years; hence the “net” caveat), decommissioning nuclear plants as well as any energy source that is not “clean” and renewable, “retrofitting all buildings to be energy efficient,” “replac[ing] every combustion-engine vehicle,” “build[ing] out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary,” and more.
And all of this is to occur through direct government action. The government will pour incomprehensibly large sums of money into new R&D, the production of energy via solar and wind, the building-retrofit project, and so on. The intention appears to be a combination of ventures run by the government and those contracted out to other providers; the text speaks of extending credit and public banks, as if these projects will be profit making, which doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense except to the extent that every building-owner would be mandated to front the cost of the building-rehab, new energy systems, etc., electricity-users ultimately pay for the cost of energy production with energy bills, and transportation bills far higher than at present, and so on.
Money-borrowing. Does AOC plan on this actually being money-printing? In World War II the government sold “victory bonds” and Marvel viewers will recall that Captain America was put to work pitching these.
But here’s the thing: issues of the government directing this massive undertaking in a command-economy fashion notwithstanding, do we even have the productive capacity to do this? To build the renewable-energy power plants on the scale needed? To electrify the miles of track needed (though high-speed or not, no rail can replace flight; all that can do so is stay-cationing and videoconferencing– with the actual outcome presumably being massively increasing the cost of air travel so only the wealthy and political elite can afford it, accompanied by sneering at people who can no longer afford to travel, as unsophisticated hicks)? To rip out and replace the heating system in every home, every office, every building in America?
One imagines that AOC’s comparison to World War II mobilization must necessarily extend to the same sorts of rationing, curtailing the availability of consumer goods, as during that war, in order to access the manpower and raw material needed — if, indeed, it is possible at all to generate solar and wind energy on such a scale (though, again, presumably the scale is curtailed by diminishing the amount of power used, as people can no longer to heat their homes to temperatures we consider comfortable, or to travel to locations we are no accustomed to traveling to, or maintain in any way the standard of living we’re accustomed to).
And, of course, that’s not even addressing the economy fantasy that she throws in:
Job guarantees with a “family-sustaining wage” as well as parental/medical leave, vacations, and “retirement security”, guaranteed higher education and trade school, “access to nature” (through Kraft durch Freude camps, maybe?), “healthy food,” “safe, affordable, adequate housing,” and — the real kicker — “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” Yes, that wasn’t a typo. Just because you don’t want to work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have “economic security,” apparently.
They are living in a fantasy world. They have watched too much Star Trek, in which material abundance through replicators means that the only reason people work is for self-fulfillment (and presumably, down there on earth but not interesting enough to build into a plot, are large numbers of people who simply play video games all day).
As a bonus, they toss in statements that they will “work with farmers and ranchers to create a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas free, food system that ensures universal access to healthy food and expands independent family farming” — which, I suppose, is at least better than collective farms.
And, finally, they claim that 92% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans “support the Green New Deal,” which presumably means that some poll found that level of agreement for either a vaguely defined proposal or one that was presented as, well, substantially less delusional.
So this is a joke. And even for this to be labeled as “aspirational” says that AOC and her staffers are not serious. They’re playing at a game, no differently than college kids late at night, thinking that they are wise and have profoundly deep ideas that their elders never thought of. In reality, they ought to be embarrassed by this, because this is so full of nonsense that it destroys their credibility. And maybe they think they’re engaged in an exercise in “moving the Overton window,” that they can now come out with a less insane plan and be greeted as having moderated their demands, but they don’t deserve to be listened to at all after producing this.