The Politics Of The Green New Deal: OMG It’s Socialism!

Posts in this series:

The Green New Deal Challenges The Domination of Capital

Part 1 on Labor

The Politics of the Green New Deal: Part 2 on Capital

The Politics of The Green New Deal: The Opposition Of The Rich

Capitalists as a class are wildly opposed to the Green New Deal. For years they have used their money to create a web of people devoted to denying obvious facts about our society, the science underlying those facts, and anyone who challenge their distortions. The tobacco industry set the example, working to undercut the scientific evidence that cigarettes cause cancer with fake studies and massive amounts of public relations garbage, including attacks on scientists and the scientific method. Exxon allegedly learned that burning fossil fuels was contributing to global warming in 1977. Here’s a nice summary from Scientific American.

Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.

Of course it isn’t just consultants, and it isn’t just communicating. It’s publicists, some scientists, politicians, media personalities and a slew of people devoted to shaping public understanding and the language people use to understand and discuss society.* They purposefully created fog around the words “Capitalism” and “Socialism”, and exploited that fog to scare people. For these people Socialism seems to mean any program the they don’t like: Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Obamacare, Medicare for All, and now the Green New Deal. These legislative initiatives share an obvious similarity: they all focus on helping people, not capitalists or their corporations. That’s not Socialism in any normal sense of the term.

I don’t think it helps politically to point out that these shrieking people are completely misusing the word. I think we should focus on the other word that has dissolved in the fog: Captialism. I suspect the Socialism Shriekers think Capitalism is the economic system in the US as it currently exists. For them, It’s a static thing, and more important, a natural and just system, the only system capable of creating a better life for people, and one arising from natural law if not the Bible itself, and therefore the best of all possible economic systems. I don’t know, of course, because the Shriekers never say what it is.

Bruce R. Scott, the Paul Whiton Cherington Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School defined capitalism in a paper titled The Political Economy of Capitalism.**

Capitalism, as I define the term, is an indirect system of governance based on a complex and continually evolving political bargain in which private actors are empowered by a political authority to own and control the use of property for private gain subject to a set of laws and regulations. Workers are free to work for wages, capital is free to earn a return, and both labor and capital are free to enter and exit from various lines of business. Capitalism relies upon the pricing mechanism to balance supply and demand in markets; it relies on the profit motive to allocate opportunities and resources among competing suppliers; and it relies upon a political authority (government) to establish the rules and regulations so that they include all appropriate societal costs and benefits. Government and its agents are held accountable to provide physical security for persons and property as well as the laws and regulations. Capitalist development is built from investment in new technologies that permit increased productivity, where a variety of initiatives are selected through a Darwinian process that favors productive uses of those resources, and from the periodic modernization of the legal and regulatory framework as indicated by changing market conditions and societal priorities. Capitalist development requires that government play two roles, one administrative, in providing and maintaining the institutions that underpin capitalism, and the other entrepreneurial, in mobilizing power to modernize these institutions as needed.

Chapter 2 of his book, Capitalism: Its Origins and Evolution, is a detailed discussion of this premise. It begins with this formulation: “Capitalism is an indirect system of government for economic relationships.” He lays out several of the most important implications of this description. These seem especially important.

(5) the political authority has the administrative opportunity and in many cases the responsibility to shape the capitalist system to favor certain interest groups over others,, as well as the entrepreneurial responsibility to modernize the capitalist system over time; … (7) political authority inevitably shapes capitalism according to a strategy, no matter how implicit or imperfect that strategy might be;…

This description (it seems a bit long to call it a definition) has a ring of reality. Government takes a larger role in the economy in times of crisis. During and after economic crashes there are calls from all sides supporting this greater role. In times of war, the government takes direction of the industrial effort, and no one complains.

The Green New Deal starts with the assertion that impending climate disaster is a crisis requiring dramatic government intervention. The intervention is not aimed at government takeover of the means of production. Instead, just as in other times of crisis, the government, acting democratically through the legislature and the executive branch, sets the rules within which capitalism must operate. The government doesn’t tell industry how to make solar panels or wind turbines. But it can and should say that the national interest is not served by further use of fossil fuels, and that the national interest is furthered by use of renewable resources to the maximum extent possible. It is then natural for the government to set rules to make that happen.

For the last four decades we have followed an implicit and imperfect strategy of deregulation in line with the prevailing ideology, neoliberalism. Its premise is that capital is to be protected at all costs, regardless of the impact on society as a whole. We saw that in the Great Crash, when the bankers were not criminally investigated, let alone prosecuted, for crashing the economy and screwing millions of homeowners. Not only that, the bankers were bailed out. Not only that, they got to keep the money they extracted from the businesses and families they wrecked.

We have seen the results of Capitalism operating with no democratic control and with no accountability. It’s time for government to create and enforce a formal strategy to protect us from Capitalism, and to protect Capitalism from itself. That is the opposite of Socialism.

====
* I didn’t use the more formal language of Pierre Bourdieu but it seems accurate. In his language, capitalists deploy their social and intellectual capital to create the symbolic structures people use to understand their world and their place in the world. He calls the exercise of this form of dominance symbolic violence. It is created by cultural producers whose job it is to elaborate the structure and spread it. I discuss this here, generally, and here, focusing on economists.

**I quoted this passage in this post.

*** I’ll take these issues up in a later post discussing the views of Elizabeth Anderson in a paper entitled Equality and Freedom in the Workplace: Recovering Republican Insights; the term Republican does not refer to the political party.

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74 replies
  1. Doug R says:

    Former leader of the NDP (formerly the CCF) David Lewis said it best: “Corporate Welfare Bums”>

    • e.a.f. says:

      hey I remember that and was going to use it in my comments! thank you for doing it first. Remember the NDP plane one federal election that had it painted on the side.

      government assistance for corporations is keeping the economy afloat. government assistance for human beings is socialism and very, very bad. Just ask the corporations and their hires, the politicians who make a living off it all.

      Always liked David Lewis. Always suspected Trudeau, Sr. made him an ambassador because he could be a threat to the federal Liberals.

  2. Star_Rover says:

    My town could soon be an LNG export site … most locals probably would go along with that because of the developmnt and jobs rhetoric.

    A very few more feet of sea level rise will mean daily commuting along 101 (added the inundation of all other civic infrastructures) will require looking at a tide table … this level of social inanity is what we must deal with.

    So it goes … it’s an intelligence test.

  3. ken melvin says:

    I don’t think capitalism came down from god. I see capitalism evolving from slavery and feudalism, a continuum, and ask what is next. It seems clear that capitalism was imposed via politics by those having capital. Now the costs of capitalism (and a market economy) are on the verge of destroying the planet, and our venal politicians seem helpless. Can our best minds save us? Will they even be asked for advice? Or, will we try our usual muddle through when we haven’t the time?

    • Mainmata says:

      You skipped a stage. After feudalism came mercantilism and colonialism (16th to 18th centuries). That gradually gave way to capitalism. The main characteristic of mercantilism was the heavy role of government in promoting exports and limiting imports.

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Workers are free to work for wages, capital is free to earn a return, and both labor and capital are free to enter and exit from various lines of business. Capitalism relies upon the pricing mechanism to balance supply and demand in markets; it relies on the profit motive to allocate opportunities and resources among competing suppliers…

    This strikes me as antiseptic, lifeless, inert, abstract, and divorced from legal decisions that sabotage unions (so workers are free primarily to work for minimum wage, or Lyft). ‘The pricing mechanism’, I assume to be some pristine, objective force — never mind Flash Boys using high speed telecom to get ahead of everyone else’s trades.

    Bruce Scott offers a fantasy, a sanitized, unctuous fiction.
    I’m sick to death of such absurdities.

    Humans are social creatures.
    Capital is a way to separate actions from responsibilities (via legal ownership structures and layers of law). At some point, capital became adept at denying any role in social relationships. That, IMVHO, is where it went off the rails.

    If I’m hearing adeptly, some Millenials hear ‘capitalism’ and think, ‘amoral, criminal, justified by politicians’. I wouldn’t be the one to say that they’re wrong. Cigarette companies sell cancer, and oil companies sell climate disaster, but no one is ever responsible for such activities — ownership and responsibility lie quite far adrift.

    The best that I can decipher, Millenials now associate ‘socialism’, with some semblance of social responsibility — which has been utterly lacking in the capitalism of their post-2008 adult years. Small wonder they are open to the notion of ‘socialism’, if it at least incorporates some semblance of social responsibility.

    FWIW, two companies (MSFT and another) just tonight on my Twitter feed had ads focused on ‘social responsibility’. But then, I follow mostly lefties and economists, so I’m sure that Twitter’s algorithms have me tagged as the sort of person who might be amenable to such ads. The fact that they exist, however, is an intriguing tea leaf.

    I do believe we are at a strange moment; Richard Shelby can’t hold forth on the Senate Banking Committee forever, and the shills for banks like Grassley are long in the tooth. Meanwhile, the flooding across the Midwest is surely registering at some level that climate has not been correctly priced into existing capitalist ‘market pricing’. Pity Bruce Scott failed to notice.

    • Greytourist says:

      “Capital is a way to separate actions from responsibilities”: a provocative perspective. But you left out the phrase that makes it brilliant: “…and it relies upon a political authority (government) to establish the rules and regulations so that they include all appropriate societal costs and benefits.” In this last phrase is encapsulated the externalization of risk that pervades all of our modern economy. Friedman’s primacy of shareholder value is a malignant expression of this; basically, he’s saying computing societal costs is too hard, so we won’t. We’ll leave it to the politicians. Which, by the way, since the only criteria we will accept for making political decisions are numeric ones, automatically discounts any metric that is long term or involves human qualia or non-human support structures.

      Other than that, great comment.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        Friedman was, in effect, saying computing societal costs is too hard?

        He wrote this: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…”

        Don’t let him off the hook.

  5. Democritus says:

    Love it. Anyone have recommendations for some good Econ books? I’ve taken some Econ courses and read up on it over the years, but I’m not making models or anything.

    I’m really trying to detach a little from the news and sub out something to help take up my time, which I have a lot of at the moment. If I get bored it’s not great for me, but as it turns out neither is obsessively reading the news. I mean, have you guys seen the news? The chuckleheads are giving me a headache, and stomach ache, and a just about everything else ache too.

    • Rayne says:

      The one book I recommend everyone read is Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Understand his work on r>g and then all manner of problems with capitalism including its role in climate change become clear.

      • BobCon says:

        I have that ordered but it hasn’t arrived yet. I’ve read several reviews which range from intelligent to Federalist level dumb.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      Quinn Slobodian. “Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism”

      Read it and you will understand where we are, how we got here, and what has to change.

      As a bonus, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Austrian economics.

  6. pizza says:

    Thank you so much Ed Walker for this fantastic series on the GND and the current, albeit discouraging, state of environmental economics in this country. Thanks to the current push from the more progressive democrats like GND (and the complete amorality of the Trump junta) in last few months I’ve converted to a full-on socialist. I was a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of mindless idiot sitting to the right of most of the fine people here. But since my full conversion to what I consider more extreme (or just more pure) socialist fundamentals, almost magically I’ve had a massive social awakening and now find myself far to the left.

    This can’t be piecemeal if it’s to be achieved at all. Thankfully the oil industry hasn’t brainwashed everyone and at least most of us progressives clearly understand that it’s time to grab this bull by its horns and get it done one way or another. Either do it, do it now, and do it all or it’s never gonna get done. The powers-that-be, at the moment, won’t allow for anything substantial to be accomplished.

    I’m in love with the concept and vision of the GND and other fresh ideas modern progressives are bringing the forefront. But at the same time, I’m extremely pessimistic about these goals ever gaining enough traction to become reality for at least two major reasons:

    1. That Fox News and the Rush Limbaughs, Anne Coulters, Sean Hannitys, and Brietbart News’s can continue to exist and deceive those conservative masses of chattel. It’s an incredibly sad and dangerous situation we’re in now where so many voting Americans literally cannot, do not, and will not think for themselves about anything political, let alone the most pressing issues of our time. Sadly I have a few of them in my family. They’re naturally such easy prey. How can we possibly expect any real chance of constructive dialogue to move forward at all?

    2. As I observe, a very large majority of Millennials appear completely uninterested in getting involved in any progressive fight. They may believe the right things and that’s great. But I have little confidence they have the desire or the ability to put down their technology long enough to actually do something meaningful.

    IMO, until progressives can change those situations, I have little hope for us to muster the massive public support these grand ideas are going to need to become reality.

    • Mainmata says:

      Ever-increasing natural and man-made disasters are having a big impact on rural areas and especially Trump country. A lot of farmers like having solar panels on their barns, which are often not mains connected. Republicans continue to be apologists for wealthy capitalists and large corporations often at the direct expense of their own constituents. But as long as they can play the racism/white supremacist and the religious fundamentalist cards, their voters keep returning them to Congress. And then vote to remove any and all social and economic regulatory constraints on capitalism and/or encouraging regulatory capture, which was especially strong in the Bush and Trump administrations. But, actually, this is ultimately self-defeating for capitalism as it leads to increasing death and sickness rates, waste of resources and, of course accelerating climate destruction. Do capitalists somehow think they are magically immune to all this?

  7. Pete says:

    This (https://www.cato.org/cato-handbook-policymakers/cato-handbook-policy-makers-8th-edition-2017/special-interest-spending), from the Cato Institute suggests a code word for socialism is subsidy. It might be interesting to take these and other such subsidies, combine them with known “socialist” programs like: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. and create a “test”: Is this Capitalism or Socialism? Yeah and use the word subsidy right from the program’s name. Which is not to say that there aren’t valid/valuable corporate subsidies and would not be valuable subsidies as put forth in the GND.

    I do not endorse the Cato Institute as I was merely looking for a quick list of items from government that are clearly “socialist” in nature if not in fact. The point being in support of “…fog around the words “Capitalism” and “Socialism”, and exploited that fog to scare people.” as written by Ed.

    • Rayne says:

      This is useful, a Rosetta stone allows us to understand their thinking and communicate in terms, within frames, they understand — and after this long, reflexively so.

      ‘Subsidy’ should be hammered on with regard to fossil fuel industry; making profits quarter after quarter is a sign they don’t need ‘corporate welfare’.

    • elk_l says:

      Speaking of subsidies, “Capitalism,” ironically, seems to hold sway in nations, like the U.S., with public policies locked in lies giving giant subsidies and exemptions as if benevolence is most deserved where least needed and subjecting the genuinely needy to vicious blame fueled by denial of greed and repression of vast sociopolitical guilt.

  8. fpo says:

    Mother Nature herself will provide the wake-up call deniers – including those in the banking industry – have coming, while at the same time rendering mute the ridiculous ‘GND: socialism v. capitalism’ premise in current political ‘debate.’ The Midwest flooding is just one example.

    [https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-25/fed-researcher-warns-climate-change-could-spur-financial-crisis]

    “Climate change is becoming increasingly relevant to central bankers because losses from natural disasters that are magnified by higher temperatures and elevated sea levels could spark a financial crisis, a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco researcher found.”

    “Climate-related financial risks could affect the economy through elevated credit spreads, greater precautionary saving, and, in the extreme, a financial crisis,’’ Glenn Rudebusch, the San Francisco Fed’s executive vice president for research, wrote in a paper published Monday.”

    Related, from MSNBC – ‘Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will join Chris Hayes to discuss the Green New Deal during a special event in the Bronx on Friday, March 29, at 8 p.m. ET.’

    This will be instructive in so many ways, including the response from the opposition.

    • pizza says:

      This is a little encouraging to me. As the old saying goes “Money talks and bullshit walks.” I have two young kids that could very well live to see the end of this century. What are they going to see when they get there? It seems like it’s very likely going to be a world without a northern polar ice cap in the summer. No fucking ice at the north pole!!!! For even a small portion of each year, that’s an incredible thing to imagine. Think about what that’s going to do to our weather systems. We’ve not seen anything even remotely close to what they’re going to see when there’s no stabilizing northern ice cap for the summer season. Seriously, we need to wake up for fuck’s sake!

      I could go into the three biggest nightmare scenarios I have but I won’t bore you all with those right now. I’m bipolar so I take things to extremes a lot, for good and bad, so I can really scare normal people with what goes through my noggin no matter how accurate I might be. Suffice to say though that nothing good can come of what’s already in motion. What kind of unimaginable disaster is it going to take for the right-wing puppets to stop labeling anything concerning responsible stewardship of our fragile planet as just more of “the left-wing agenda?” That’s what it’s going to have to happen, unfortunately so how much damage will our species do?

      I really fear very much for what my kids and their kids will be facing in just another generation. Why there is not significantly more sense of urgency in this country just boggles my mind.

      • Blueride27 says:

        I’m in the same boat as you. I’m at the point of accepting that my little voice will do little scream into the void. But one thing I do have control of is educating my young son. I try to teach him pure logic. Carbon in the air is bad,. Not everyone is looking out for his best interests, blah blah blah…
        One thing I would really like is MORE education for young people. I don’t mean a dedicated class (because I’m sure that would mean dropping music or gym) I’m talking about a extra month of schooling . Make the classes about the science behind climate change… The why and the how it works. For an extra good measure throw in a week of studies about civil service . I’m tired of everyone thinking politics is a popularity contest. It’s supposed to be the best of us.

  9. Tom says:

    From one point of view, climate change/global warming is just the means Mother Nature/Planet Earth is using to fight back against the infestation of humans who have been abusing her for the past several thousand years.

    • pizza says:

      Or the response to this warming from our damaging behavior will be the method she uses to put us back in check. One of my nightmares is that not to much farther into the future things will reach a point where a nasty series of events will lead to a very rapid re-balancing of temperatures. It’s not difficult to see that scenario resulting in something like a new ice age if the forces set into motion are strong enough. There just has to be enough momentum. You know, there’s a check and balance for all this heat were creating that’s getting trapped in our thin atmosphere and it’s right above us. Thunderstorms are the means by which nature balances out heat build up with water vapor as the medium and the cold of space as the balance. What happens if we heat things up just enough that a feedback loop of sorts is created and massive rivers of heat energy are suddenly channeled into massive storm systems, hurricanes, or typhoons? I’m not a meteorologist but I don’t think it’s completely impossible that this scenario could result in runaway cooling once things get going. Massive global flooding before a new ice age? It’s unlikely but we just don’t know what’s bad stuff is inevitably going to happen. Maybe that’s how nature eradicates it’s biggest problem: us.

    • Jockobadger says:

      I’m a geologist who’s spent a great deal of time outdoors here in the PNW over the last 50+ years. I’ve seen the changes and continue to see them in the forests, glacial ice, rivers, lakes, etc. I agree with Tom. There’s going to be a reckoning for the human race. It’ll be weather (and all that entails), war, pandemic, all three? Something else? I know it sounds weird and sort of conspiracy-theory-ish, but it is coming. There are simply too many people doing too much damage. Sorry to sound like a black cloud.

      • bmaz says:

        I am similarly an inhabitant of the Sonoran desert in AZ. You are not wrong, and I see the same here. It is scary.

        • DrFunguy says:

          Ask any field biologist, they will tell you the same thing.
          “We live among punishments and ruins…” – Wendell Berry
          The great dying (mass extinction) is underway and we are its cause.
          My response: work on local food security and resilience.
          Build community.
          I have never been so discouraged by politics, but we have to keep working for solutions there as well.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      The best writing on climate change I have ever seen is Dr. Wallace Broeker’s last book: CO2: Earth’s Climate Driver. It was published in Oct. 2018 and is available on-line as a .pdf document. You can find it here: https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/perspectives/article-abstract/7/2/117/567159/co2-earth-s-climate-driver?redirectedFrom=fulltext

      Broeker died in February 2019 after over 60 years of Earth Science studies at Columbia University in NY. If you want to understand the history of the Earth’s climate, this is a must read. Two key insights: 1) the Earth’s climate has NOT been hospitable to human life for most of its long (4.5B year) history. The first 2B years saw an atmosphere composed of larger methane and sulfuric gases. 2) the Earth’s climate is only weakly stable. With no CO2 in the atmosphere, the Earth would be 50 degrees C colder – or -35 degrees C. The Earth has been an icefall at least twice – just like the Jovian moon Io. With too much CO2, the Earth’s atmosphere heats up due to the greenhouse effect. The mean temperature of the Earth was about 14 degrees C until the Industrial Revolution, but has warmed 1 degree C in the past 150 years. By 2050, at the rate we are going, the atmosphere will be up 2 degrees to 16 degrees C. By 2100, we are up 3-5 degrees C and human habitability will be questionable in much of the equatorial Earth. In addition, these temperatures will almost certainly melt the Greenland and West Antarctic ice shelves, raising mean sea levels by 10 meters on average. The entire state of Florida will be under water. The cost of these changes so dwarfs the cost of the “Green New Deal” that hit is laughable to think that we can ignore the coming disaster.

      We need to immediately commit to the Paris Agreement goals on three thrusts: 1) conversion of all energy / power to CO2 emission-free sources by 2050, 2) capture of anthropogenic CO2 and sequestration in geological reserves to control atmospheric CO2 below 400 ppm, and 3) LARGE scale geo-engineering interventions to reduce the solar radiance to the troposphere by increasing the albedo of the stratosphere. Only by doing all three of these steps can we fend off a much different and more hostile climate for humans. Whether you call that a “Green New Deal” or much better stewardship of the environment is semantics. The bright side, however is that the Sun deposits 250W / sq. mtr. to the surface of the Earth. If we harness even 1% of this energy, it will meet all our needs going forward.

      Broeker’s best quote was “we are poking an angry animal (our climate) with a stick” The animal is the climate, which is much more dynamic and can be much more hostile to human existence than we can collectively imagine. We are playing with fire.

      • Tom says:

        The Earth, like the rest of the Universe, is indifferent to us. If we don’t look after ourselves, nothing else will.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Coming from a Harvard professor holding an endowed chair, I find Scott’s description junior high schoolish. Two examples:

    “Workers are free to work for wages, capital is free to earn a return, and both labor and capital are free to enter and exit from various lines of business.”

    Workers are “free” to work for wages only if they would rather not starve to death.

    The pace at which labor can “enter and exit” a line of business is glacial compared to capital’s. Capital moves money. Labor moves lives, locations, the hard-won ability to make or do something with one’s hands and the determination to do it in often difficult circumstances. The asymmetry in pace mirrors the asymmetry in power.

    “Government and its agents are held accountable to provide physical security for persons and property as well as the laws and regulations.”

    The shift to the passive voice is often a red flag, as it is here. With it, Scott avoids agency. Who holds government to account? The wealthiest individuals and families, and the businesses and courtiers they control and employ.

    What priorities is government held accountable for following? Those of big business, and its physical persons and property. Against whom? Labor’s claims on them. Government’s “laws and regulations” mirror that priority.

    • Ed Walker says:

      It’s not well written, that’s for sure, and I too think it’s off the mark in several places. I see this part as idealistic in the extreme, and it made me skeptical of Scott’s thinking. But I am persuaded that this is the best definition of the idea of capitalism, especially the parts I add later from the book. It’s online in .pdf, in case you’d like to take a look.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I think government can be held accountable, and that elites can be held accountable. I think we’ve completely lost that as a working concept, but I think we can recover from that failure if we work at it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about the Green New Deal, or before, at FDL on Securities Laws applicable to the Great Crash. I have lots of other things I could be reading and writing about, thngs that would be intellectually interesting as the country turns to stupid.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I was not criticizing your choice of Scott, only his simplistic version of capitalism. He describes it as if a description were unnecessary, as if everyone had already agreed it was an unalloyed good thing that could not be beat.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      Love that. IMO that’s jury’s been deadlocked since maybe Toba. Or, if Jaynes got it right, sequestered somewhere between the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the joy of introspection. Who knows. The one with their wants. And the many with their needs. Heats up a planet. Hayek at least had the honesty to deny social justice in order for a capricious market to assume the role of an Old Testament God. But if the book has enough pages, such a cynical view is bound to fail. Or so I tell myself.

  11. oldpaint says:

    Much of what passes for capitalism today has nothing to do with “investment in new technologies that permit increased productivity …” It is solely about creating greater wealth for the so-called capitalists. In the Great Crash, which you mention, it was about bundling “subprime mortgages” into “securities” for the wealthy to invest in and make more wealth. We know how that turned out. Now we are seeing “hedge funds” buying troubled companies, firing employees, squeezing out whatever profits they can, and destroying the companies. That is the opposite of capitalism in the traditional sense.

    As you note, we have had 40 years of neoliberalism, and the people who have benefited from it have convinced those who have been hurt by it — the majority — that it has been a wonderful ride and we need to keep at it. Where I live, the brainwashing has been so profound — it goes back to the days of slavery, I suppose — that I see no hope for the Green New Deal, or for Elizabeth Warren’s sensible ideas for tweaking capitalism, or for any progressive ideas. Hell, my friends and neighbors are still trying to undo the Old New Deal.

  12. JamesJoyce says:

    Was the construction of US Interstate Highway System socialism?

    That was Eisenhower?

    I guess anything that addresses the needs of humans is socialism today.

    Emancipation I guess could be considered socialism viewed via myopic lense of a slaveowner?

    Great SCOTT!

    How dare you take my property via emancipation.

    My property from its servitude to me, Mr. Lincoln?

    Deja Vu…

    • oldpaint says:

      Exactly right. And if the rest of the country decides the Green New Deal and other forms of socialism are a good idea, we may see some of the states from the Old Confederacy ranting again about states’ rights, nullification and secession.

  13. gmoke says:

    My working definition of Socialism comes from the November 1, 1918 edition of the NY Call, the Socialist daily of that time –
    “Art Young’s Political Primer: What is Socialism? It is business operated for public benefit instead of private profit.”

    That sounds like a Benefit or B Corporation to me. You know like Vermont’s public utility, Green Mountain Power. Might want to ask them what they think of the Green New Deal as they’ve been a pioneer in renewables and demand side management, even running an experiment on using electric hot water heaters as a distributed energy storage system.

  14. punaise says:

    OT, but interesting – I caught a snippet of this World Affairs Council talk on “Surveillance Capitalism”:

    Surveillance Capitalism: How Silicon Valley Profits from Tracking Us
    In the modern age of Facebook, Google, and smart devices, most of us are under 24-hour surveillance. These data points are collected by large tech companies and are in turn sold to and used by governments and businesses alike to influence our behavior. On this week’s episode, Dr. Shoshana Zuboff discusses her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, which explores what can be done to protect democracy and free thought against these new threats. She is in conversation with Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO, Tech Matters.

    https://www.worldaffairs.org/podcast

    We’re soaking in it….

  15. Vern says:

    I have found that preceding Republican policies with “Faith Based” cuts thru bullshit and gets to the heart of the matter. Faith Based economics is but one great example, cuz it ain’t subject to facts and evidence.

    And it’s fun too! It’s kind of like bored kids in church sniggering over “in between the sheets” tagged onto hymn titles/lyrics. Hold to the Iron Rod (in between the sheets)!

  16. sand says:

    Great series Ed. I tried to add something and it turned into a big ramble. Oh well.

    I heard Lamar Alexander on NPR today. First, he engaged on climate change, stating that it’s a real issue, mostly caused by people, and needs to be addressed. I’ll take all that as a big positive.

    Then, he proposed some ideas. I believe there’s a written proposal, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll look for a link to post. Some of Alexander’s points:

    – The GND is the wrong approach because it talks about cow burps. The NPR interviewer (I forget which one) would not let that slide, and he (sort of) had to admit it was a mischaracterization. She read the text to him.

    – The GND deal is wrong because solar is only 2% of total generation capacity. Alexander went on to criticize ‘renewables’ in general. While 2% is no joke and probably doesn’t include significant behind-the-meter capacity, this is bad math anyway once conflated with total renewables. I need to check the latest EIA data, but I think total renewable capacity actually met or exceeded nuclear capacity in the U.S. in 2018. Alexander went on to praise nuclear.

    Now, Vogtle 3/4 is a ridiculous boondoggle. VC Summer 2/3 is a worse boondoggle. It’s insanity to spend $35 billion for 2,000 MWs of generation when you can do it for around 1/10th that cost with gas. However, nuclear plants don’t pump CO2 into the atmosphere. I’d like to keep running the nuclear plants we have for as long as it makes sense, but there’s no way we should be building more AP1000s given the two experiences we’ve had this century. Why would Alexander promote this? Why would he bash ‘renewables’ when the U.S. has built almost 100,000 MW of wind generation. 100,000 MWs! Has this guy ever visited the Midwest?

    U.S. economics are pushing us hard toward a blend of gas and renewables. That’s the truth. As storage technologies improve, which is happening quickly, renewable development is accelerating. Modern combined-cycle gas plants are significantly more efficient than our current fleet, and they’re being built, but GE, Siemens, and Alstom have all been selling business units, merging, and laying off employees because the market for new gas and steam turbines is nowhere near what had been hoped. Efficiency has flattened load growth in the U.S., and renewables are chewing up the existing load. Grid stability is a challenge, but we’ll figure it out (sorry if there are a couple more big blackouts; it’s getting more complicated every year.)

    Anyway, if the U.S wants to build nuclear plants, the engineering and construction industry is more than happy to do it. We’ll build whatever you want. But if you want bang for your buck today, it’s gas and renewables. If you want to solve the problem nearly entirely, stop building more cities in the middle of the blistering desert and cranking the AC until it’s 68F inside. If it weren’t for AC, we pretty much wouldn’t build any new power plants at all. When it’s temperate outside, most of the plants aren’t even running. We build them because it gets hot in July, and we like to keep everyone nice and cool.

    I’ll reiterate that I’m glad to hear Alexander engage. Who advises him on economics and science?

    • sand says:

      OK. I researched a bit:

      – EIA (https://www.eia.gov) has total U.S. generation capacity at just under 1.1 terawatts as of December 2018; of that, 68% is fossil, 20% is renewable (including hydro), 9% is nuclear, 2% is pumped hydro storage, and <1% is other. (EIA Table 6.2.A)

      – EIA has actual 2018 net generation at about 337 million MWhs; of that, 63% was fossil, 19% was nuclear, 16% was renewable, and about 2% was other. (EIA Table 7.2.A) Note that we have double the capacity of renewables compared to nuclear, but nuclear runs steady when not on maintenance/refueling and renewables run at a low power factor during the doldrums of summer when the wind is slow and less dense. Solar works great, but we have 4x the wind capacity as we do solar, so the summer is not great for our current renewable fleet, and that's just when we need the most power.

      – Here's the text of Alexander's comments (I think this link should be good to post as it is):

      https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/3/one-republican-s-response-to-climate-change-a-new-manhattan-project-for-clean-energy-10-grand-challenges-for-the-next-five-years

      • sand says:

        I read the text. He was just shilling for a few billion for Oak Ridge. I’d seriously give it to him. I’d seriously offer $2B to any Republican Senator for any idea they want, if they get on board. If Alexander wants to spend his money at Oak Ridge, that’s fine by me. Maybe the Dems could put this thing on Trump’s desk for $14B in Republican pet energy projects. Then, let Trump sign it, or veto it and kill all those jobs. The boys at Oak Ridge would not be happy.

  17. tinao says:

    Sorry Ed, but i don’t know where to put this, and i believe people should know.
    Hello folks. Are yinz guys aware of the latest iteration of electronic voting? Bar coded ballots. Now you tell me why we need to add a layer of opacity to hand marked ballots we ALL can read. .Are pens too expensive? Really, this is what election integrity advocates have found out already.
    http://bradblog.com/?p=12910
    And of coarse a song…

    • P J Evans says:

      Here in L.A. I’ve been using “Ink-a-dot” for at least 20 years – it’s probably not foolproof, but it’s better than stuff where you need a computer to figure out what you voted for. (A card full of black dots isn’t easily read by people, unless you have the correct ballot-book handy. It’s like mark-sense test forms, that way.) I’ve used electronic voting a couple of times, once when I needed to vote early because a family emergency took me out of town the weekend before the election, and I wasn’t sure I’d be home in time.

      • tinao says:

        Eh PJ, I’m not sure how many years its been since i quickly interviewed fast eddy, and had him on tape about his ignorance bout lectronic voting here in pennsyltucky. But needless to say a friend who is studying to be an election lawyer told me to make sure i went to my election’s board show about these new abominations! People need to know bar code scam is just that. Check out your local election board.

  18. tinao says:

    My new wrist plate is working well, I can still flip trump off. Don’t take the protective stuff off often cept to do the stretches.

    • tinao says:

      Seriously empy, soon as i’m back to work i’ll be putting nickel in your jar. So should everyone who reads here! :-)

  19. Eureka says:

    Continued thanks, Ed, for this series– and of course for this post.

    I just noticed the unfortunate coincidences one might notice in abbreviating Socialism Shriekers to ‘SS.’ Excepting those who have been manipulated or otherwise misunderstand, I suppose a similar fealty obtains in some of them.

  20. Eureka says:

    ~ Dashing in excitedly ~

    I’m taping the AOC GND special airing now on Chris Hayes (so haven’t watched). But did anyone see Hayes’ show last night– with the package near the end introducing tonight’s special?

    The field reporter interviewed a guy who needs to be doing _a lot_ more public speaking about climate impacts/GND topics. I missed names/exact titles- it was the union guy with some type of supervisory role at the giant food distribution center in the Bronx. (If this one place flooded, over a million people would be SOL re food supply.) He was matter-of-factly, succinctly compelling. He had lots of credibility disarming the “political football” issue and pointing to things that needed to be done with just that one example. I think he could preach to a broader audience than the choir.

    Someone get this man some more interviews.

    Parking this comment here in hopes that a clip will become available/locatable. Did anyone else see this?

  21. Valley girl says:

    Eureka- I just finished watching the four part Chris Hayes GND program from March 29 with AOC via youtube. (I don’t have a TV, so I didn’t see the last part you mention- intro to tonight)

    I hadn’t seen your comment until I came here to post the you tube links. Hope you got to watch your taping of last night. I just couldn’t stop watching.

    first two parts
    https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1mrF_lZK1k
    https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=Mg5d6Mz_luI

    space inserted before www so they don’t show up full screen here. Edit- link changed automagically after edit showed up.

    • Valley girl says:

      Damn! got these in the wrong order. Bangs head. Let me try again, as it’s too late to delete comment above.

  22. Valley girl says:

    Apologies to all for the mess above. Bad hair day. Things kept getting troublesome and confusing b/c my internet connection failed several times. If Rayne can sort this out and delete as appropriate, many thanks.

    I had to have a laugh so I just watched this for the umpteenth time
    Moon Unit Zappa Valley Girl.
    https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb21lsCQ3EM

    • Eureka says:

      VG- I learned some new tricks for the youtube links that are easier for me (and I meant to share this the other night but guess I never clicked ‘post’).

      If I put (parens) around a yt link, the link stays hot but does not embed the video.

      If I put [brackets] around _any_ link (thanks EoH- I copied him on this), it deadens the link, so for sure no video would embed.

      I haven’t watched the special yet– thanks for posting it here to share with all. I spent my media time last night on that Sam Seder take-down of the asshat who was attacking Marcy (she tweeted about it extensively). Link for that here: https://majorityreportradio.com/2019/03/29/casual-friday-benjamin-dixon-judy-gold-3
      The relevant part starts about 1h18mins into the broadcast.

      • Valley girl says:

        Apologies to Ed for taking this off-track from the GND, but, Eureka, OMG! gag me with a spoon. I just finished listening to that interview. Someone has very grody toenails, and it’s not MW. Not by a long shot. It’s the person SS interviewed starting at ~1:11. In this particular instance I am using grody toenails as a stand-in for… um batshit crazy, or more realistically an attention whore, or more politely, umm… I forgot what I was going to say re: more politely.

        To understand the grody toenails reference, see above from Moon Unit Zappa.

        • Eureka says:

          OMG, like bag those toenails!

          Asshat dude’s unwavering screechy pitch was also a window into the unhinged.

          And OMG, Marilyn McCoo and Solid Gold (happy heart :) )

          • Eureka says:

            The flageolet of the flagellated.

            ETA: he could probably also use some more carbs, but that’s true of us all in These Times, I suppose.

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