Editor's Note: This post was co-authored by David Wojick.
Kamala Harris co-sponsored the Senate resolution to support the Green New Deal. Now Joe Biden has endorsed the plan. Naturally, people want to know what the GND will cost – usually meaning in state and federal government spending. But that is the wrong question.
The real question is, how much do Green New Dealers expect to get out of it, at whattotalcost? Mr. Biden says he wants the feds to spend nearly $7 trillion over the next decade on healthcare, energy and housing transformation, climate change and other GND agenda items. But that is only part of the picture.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who has a degree in some socialist version of economics) and the folks who helped her write Biden's so-called Climate Plan have a clear idea of how much money they want, and pretty much know where they expect the money to come from. Here it is in its clearest form, as stated by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s then chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti:
“The resolution describes the 10-year plan to transform every sector of our economy to remove GHG [greenhouse gases] and pollution. It says it does this through huge investments in renewables, at WW2 scales (which was 40-60% of America’s GDP).”
World War II was a time of great sacrifice and hardship, as part of a dramatic and historic mobilization to win a horrific global war. However, that hard reality doesn’t matter to these folks. They say we are now waging a war to stop catastrophic climate change. So money, sacrifice and disruption are irrelevant.
Our nation’s GDP is around $20 trillion a year, or $200 trillion in ten years. 40-60% of that is $80-120 trillion. For simplicity, let’s call it an even $100 trillion to finance the Green New Deal utopian dream.
$100 trillion! The ways and means of raising this stupendous sum are also clear in their minds. It will be done the same way WW2 was financed, however that was. To them, it’s obvious that we can simply do this, because we did it before. The specifics don’t matter. Government elites will figure them out.
But even this arrogant, cavalier attitude is only part of the picture.
If you read what Green New Dealers say, confusion arises because people think the GND is an ordinary policy proposal:“Here’s what we want done, and this what it should cost.” It is nothing like that. The Green New Deal is more along the lines of,“Here’s the level of effort we require to transform our entire economy, and this is what we should be able to do with that much money.”
People tend to interpret Green New Dealer talk of a WW2-like mobilization as a simple metaphor. But these folks mean it as an actual measure of what they are determined to do. So far they have glossed over and ignored the extreme hardships of mobilization. Here’s just one example – not from front lines mayhem, but from the United States home front during World War II.
“Gasoline, meat and clothing were tightly rationed. Most families were allocated 3 US gallons of gasoline a week, which sharply curtailed driving for any purpose. Production of most durable goods, like cars, new housing, vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances, was banned until the war ended. In industrial areas housing was in short supply as people doubled up and lived in cramped quarters. Prices and wages were controlled.”
No doubt the Green New Deal mobilization would impose different hardships. But all mobilizations are oppressive. You can’t commandeer half of the GDP without inflicting severe disruption on people’s lives.
The argument is sound in its way, provided there is a need for all-out war – which there is not. The minor to modest temperature, climate and extreme weather changes we’ve been seeing (in the real world outside computer models) explain why most Americans see no need for a painful war. So does the fact that China, India and other emerging economies are not about to give up fossil fuels anytime soon.
In fact, polls show that roughly half of Americans do not even believe in the idea of human caused global warming, much less that it is an“existential threat,” as Senator Harris claims it is. The latest Gallup poll found that only 1% of US adults consider “climate change/environment/pollution” to be “the most important problem facing this country today.” That’s down from a meager 2% in the May 28-June 4 poll.
Even more revealing, a 2019 AP-NORC poll found that 68% of adult Americans were unwilling to pay even an extra $10 on their monthly electricity bill to combat global warming. Indeed, 57% of them would not be willing to pay more than $1.00 in added electricity charges to fight climate change!
Just wait until they see what the Biden-Harris-AOC-Democrat Green New Deal would cost them.
And it’s not just that their costs would likely skyrocket from an average US 13.2¢ per kilowatt hour (11.4¢ or less in ten states) to well beyond the nearly 20¢ per kWh that families are already paying in California and New York, or the 30¢ that families are now paying in ultra-green Germany. Or that factories, businesses, hospitals, schools and everyone else would also see their costs escalate – with blue collar families, the sick and elderly, poor and minority communities hammered hardest.
It’s that the Green New Deal would force every American to replace their gasoline and diesel cars and trucks with expensive short-haul electric vehicles; their gas furnaces with electric systems; their home, local and state electrical and transmission systems with expensive upgrades that can handle a totally electric economy. They’ll see their landscapes, coastlines and wildlife habitats blanketed with wind turbines, solar panels, transmission lines and warehouses filled with thousands of half-ton batteries. Virtually every component of this GND nation would be manufactured in China and other faraway places.
The cost of this massive, total transformation of our energy and economic system would easily reach $10 trillion: $30,000 per person or $120,000 per family – on top of those skyrocketing electricity prices. And that’s just the energy component of this all-encompassing Green New Deal.
These are stupendous, outrageous costs and personal sacrifices. Every American, at every campaign event and town meeting, should ask Green New Deal supporters if they think America needs to – or can afford to – cough up $10 trillion or $100 trillion over the next ten years. And not let them get away with glib, evasive answers, or attempts to laugh these questions off as meritless or irrelevant.
The American people are not about to be mobilized into an all-out war against dubious climate change, with price tags like these coupled with repeated blackouts, huger personal sacrifices, and massive joblessness in every sector of the economy – except among government ruling classes.
They’ve already seen news stories about the latest rolling blackouts in California (here, here, here and here) – resulting from one-third of that state’s electricity coming from “renewable” sources, and with a good portion of that being hydroelectric, much of it imported from other states. They must be wondering what their lives, livelihoods and living standards would look like under100%wind and solar power.
And yet, once again, even all this insanity is only a small part of the picture.
Remember, the Green New Deal is also about government run healthcare – and an economy and nation where “progressive” and “woke” legislators, regulators, judges and activists tell companies what they can manufacture and sell ... and tell us what we can buy, eat and drink; how and how much we can heat and cool our homes; and what we can read, hear, think and say, as they “transform” our culture and traditions.
The GND is being promoted by politicians, news and social media, “educators” and others who also want to eliminate free enterprise capitalism; have totally open borders, even for criminals and people who might have Covid and other diseases; and want to defund the police, put rapists, looters and arsonists back on our streets, and take away our right and ability to defend ourselves, our homes and our families.
The time to think long and hard about all of this is NOW. Not sometime after the November 3 elections.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues. David Wojick is an independent analyst specializing in science, logic and human rights in public policy, and author of numerous articles on these topics.