The Politics of the Green New Deal: Conventional Wisdom

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

The Green New Deal: OMG It’s Socialism!

The Politics Of The Green New Deal: We Can’t Pay For That

The Politics Of The Green New Deal: More Democracy

The Conventional Wisdom is that the Green New Deal is worse than useless, it’s dangerous. This essay by Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center lays out all the conventional analysis.

I worry, however, that despite all of the new energy you’ve unleashed on the political scene, you are setting your cause back, not moving it forward. Nothing about the seriousness of the threat we are facing changes the fact that politics is “the art of the possible,” not exhortation for the impossible. Given that serious action on climate will have to come out of the institutions we have — not those we might wish for — the strategies and tactics you are pursuing through the Green New Deal amount to political malpractice. Moreover, the policy initiatives you’re promoting are rightly difficult for political actors to swallow. As veteran Democratic operative Stuart Eizenstat warned this month, “Speaking from experience, by demanding the moon, their proposals will crash on the launching pad and lead to nowhere good.” Link in original.

Note the level of sadness Taylor expresses; some might call it concern trolling. The piece is long, but the basics are summed up in Taylor’s subheads:

Wishing for Ponies
Attack of the Killer Watermelons
Magical Thinking Regarding Partisan Power
Your Plan B: The Long War
Get Over the Overton Window
If Not the Green New Deal, What?

Taylor admits that the problem is serious and that he contributed to political inaction, and then dismisses the Green New Deal as impossible. The last section lays out Taylor’s ideas for doing a little bit toward solving the crisis: carbon pricing. He wants to use market mechanisms in some complex way to start reducing carbon emissions whenever that passes. I hardly need remind anyone that markets give all the power to people with money, and the more money, the more power. Market solutions automatically punish the working class who consume the product, especially those that lose their jobs as the economy changes; while benefiting those who control the markets. Taylor says tax revenues can be “rebated” to consumers to make them whole, which sounds pretty until you see that rebates come after consumers front the money, money large numbers of us don’t have to spare. History says whatever that program is, it will be too little and too delayed and too easily short-changed and too easily ended. And obviously rebates do nothing for people who lose their jobs. And Taylor doesn’t explain why passing some complex plan for carbon pricing is an easier project than the Green New Deal. Does he really think the forces of the fossil fuel industry will agree to major taxes on their wealth in the ground?

I argue in this series that the point of the Green New Deal is to insure that the burdens of climate change and our response to it are not shifted to the working class. Taylor acknowledges the concern but dismisses it:

Worse, your “it’s all related” argument validates and amplifies misplaced conservative objections to rapid decarbonization. For instance, you argue that a federal jobs guarantee and the like are critical because decarbonization will require immediate and massive transformation of the economy, necessitating federal action to ensure that radically transformed labor markets protect the well-being of millions of displaced workers. Conservative critics of climate action often make that same point in the course of arguing that the cost of decarbonization is staggeringly high.

Taylor assures us that the number of “displaced” workers will be “modest”. I hear echoes of Paul Krugman’a assurances that trade deals won’t cause job losses. Of course they do, and the jobs lost are the well-paying jobs. In exactly the same way, we can expect massive displacements, and the people hurt will have to pay the price of putting themselves in the right places, and too bad about the people who don’t have the money to move to wherever these supposed replacement jobs might be, and the older workers who cannot make the necessary changes to themselves to fit into the new jobs. Taylor is perfectly happy to stake your life on his market theory. The Green New Deal isn’t.

Taylor’s smug tone is infuriating. He hears your pain as the planet heats up, but really, we can’t do much and you are silly children for thinking we can anything that would actually work. Try for something attainable, and utterly ineffective against the inexorable force of climate change, it sure was a nice planet.

Taylor recommends that supporters of radical change to protect the planet learn from this essay in Politico by Stuart Eizenstat, a veteran of centrist Democrat politics. His title explains his thesis: I’ve Seen Civil War Destroy the Democrats Before. We Can’t Let it Happen Again. Eizenstat fears the left. He starts in 1968, blaming Eugene McCarthy for Hubert Humphrey’s loss to Richard Nixon.

But [Eugene] McCarthy failed to reconcile with his fellow Minnesotan and led his supporters back into the fold only after it was too late. Richard Nixon exploited the divisions in the party and the country and was elected by the thinnest of margins in November. His election led to an extension of the war Humphrey would have ended; during the next four years 21,000 more American soldiers were killed.

So it was those dirty hippies who lost the election for the Democrats. Then Eizenstat moves to the Reagan Carter election in 1980.

In 1980, Kennedy decided to challenge Carter from the left. The senator’s liberal supporters gummed-up the 1980 convention with more than 50 minority floor amendments to the party’s platform, demanding more and more spending and full-blown national health insurance. Kennedy lost, but the damage was done. His challenge irrevocably split the party.

And then Kennedy didn’t campaign hard enough for Carter, so it’s the left’s fault Reagan won by an enormous margin.

In the two cases Eizenstat relies on, the left was right and leadership was wrong. The war in Viet Nam was immoral. Johnson withdrew from the election because he couldn’t win the election. But the leadership of the Democratic Party wanted more war. They are responsible for Humphrey’s nomination and his subsequent defeat. (Side note: Eizenstat can bite my ass.)

In the case of Carter, national increased federal spending were the correct policy. The early Reagan years were a nightmare for working people brought on by Volcker’s extraordinary interest rates, which caused massive unemployment and weakened the unions even just as Reagan and his band of pirates and thugs moved the nation into neoliberalism. Volcker was protecting the assets of the rich. No one lifted a finger for the working class.

Eizenstat doesn’t mention HRC’s loss, but it’s the same thing. the leaders of the Democratic Party wanted her and not the changes Sanders demanded. The left was dismissed as impossible dreamers, and then blamed for her loss.

It’s past time for leadership to realize that their policies are the problem. Here’s an essay by Ed Kilgore in New York Magazine titled A New Role for Democratic Centrists: Helping the Left Win. Kilgore praises Clinton and Obama for holding back the worst of the increasingly “irresponsible and extremist Republican Party”. But

… their effort to revive progressivism by marrying it to market mechanisms — in part to secure business and moderate Republican support — never caught the public’s imagination or secured bipartisan support. It instead became a vehicle for deregulation and speculative excesses that helped produce the financial crisis and the Great Recession, a hollowing-out of industries employing the non-college-educated, and the kind of growing income inequality that looked to be waning for a moment in the ’90s. And even when this approach succeeded initially, as with the classic public-private structure of Obamacare, it conspicuously failed to inspire the sort of loyalty commanded by the supposedly archaic and sclerotic public programs of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The conventional wisdom got us into this nightmare. It won’t get us out.

54 replies
  1. Valley girl says:

    Ed, my first reaction in skimming this post is to say how greatly I am irritated by this useless phrase “politics is the art of the possible”, as used in one of the pieces you quoted. I know of course that you don’t agree with this idea. I am so tired of hearing it, said in “earnest” tones, that I get really het up. How the hell is change for the better going to happen if people don’t fight for change?

    • timbo says:

      By redefining “change” one can change what is/has to be fought over… or about. That’s how a cunning politician/leader works to minimize friction where they do not want it and maximize it where they do want it. What we are seeing in the US is a lack of leadership to get a handle on governance that keeps the system stable. Instead of dealing with real issues, money and time is wasted convincing people that the issues themselves are not real or are “trivial” political footballery.

  2. Valley girl says:

    “Politics is the Art of the Possible.”
    Hearing that phrase always makes me grind my teeth. One person on a college email list I am on (all Democrats) likes to repeat this phrase. Sanctimonious Bullshit I say.

    see this:
    ~Whenever a commentator declares that “politics is the art of the possible,” I’m on my guard. What I’m being told, I suspect, is to accept apparent present conditions as immutable facts of life, and to trim my goals accordingly. I’m being told to let injustices stand.~~

    ~~It’s striking how often pundits of “the possible” rest their case on all kinds of gross improbabilities.
    In insisting that there was no alternative to neoliberal economics, many assumed, in defiance of obvious objections, that speculation had no limits, that wealth-making could be severed from productive activity, that private interests would magically coagulate into public benefit, that industrial growth could be limitless on a planet with finite resources. Here, the art of the possible has been revealed as a dismal pseudo-science, its certainties built on foundations of sand.~~

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As Rayne often says, “electability” and the “art of the possible” have become conservative tropes, used to argue against change not because it is not needed, but because it upsets the existing power structure.

      Electability, in particular, is used against women to keep them from power. It is often used against Elizabeth Warren by both the right and by candidates such as Joe Biden, who wants to assure us that all we need do is restore his half of the Obama-Biden ticket and all will be well. Unlike Warren, his only policy is himself. Not much hopey changey stuff there.

      The Democratic candidates have a year to have all the pillow and food fights they want. Dean Wormer and the establishment Dems can’t put them on double secret probation. Late Spring 2020 is when they will need to settle down, clean up, and get behind a single candidate and platform.

      Until then, the MSM should shelve its horse race coverage and cover the issues, the people behind them, and the real histories of candidates. Some of the latter will not withstand much sunlight.

      • Stacey says:

        Yeah, Biden should have quit while he was ahead and stayed out of this right now. Talk about a guy who’s past his ‘sell-by date’. Dude, the woman on The View the other day was spoon feeding him the only answer that will ever get him out of the stink on his shoe from how he managed the Anita Hill fiasco years ago, and he was so concerned with making sure he did not take any responsibility for his own short-comings there so as not to look guilty of something. Joe, try self-awareness on for size, see if that might wear a little better!

    • Mona Williams says:

      That phrase has the same effect on me. Modern Monetary Theory reminds us that whatever we have the resources to do (which, in this case, we have) is possible. The “art of the possible” people would like to pretend that it is impossible to a) change old, stubborn people’s minds, or b) kick them out of office if they won’t change. Both, of course, are possible, and are what politics is all about.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Taylor’s version of “political malpractice” is a tad overbroad. His argument suggests worry and excitability, and a desperation to avoid change and to undercut those would fight for it. Martin Luther King would find him a familiar type. His essay is also sexist and infantilizes his opponents, a sign he is engaged in propaganda, not reasoned debate.

    What he appears to mean is that the energy and banking lobby, as currently arrayed, hate the New Deal because they haven’t figured out how to monopolize the profit from it. Those are not forces that yield to playing nice. They are restrained only by countervailing forces, which are currently in short supply. AOC is a rare find, Jerry Taylors are a dime a dozen.

  4. P J Evans says:

    The bit about rebates reminds me of one of my brother’s teachers in high school (physics and “earth sciences”), who got mad about being charged for trash pickup when he wasn’t creating trash (he bought carefully, and recycled very very thoroughly). Took it to court and lost, but not for lack of trying. Yes, he was involved with the first Earth Day, and I think he’d be backing the Green New Deal, if he were alive.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Excellent reminder, Ed, that the market is intended as a replacement for democratic politics. It limits ordinary people to the status of consumer, whose only value is in the amount of money she can spend and in how fast she spends it. That is, her value lies in how fast she recycles her money into the hands of the market’s biggest players.

    As you say, in a market government, one dollar=one vote, which allows those with the most dollars effortlessly to rule. Intervention in the market upsets that calculation, which is why neoliberals want government to do just what they tell it, no more, no less.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      We think that ‘speech is money’ after decades of neoliberal judges handing down appalling court rulings. Back in Adam Smith’s 1770’s Edinburgh market system, the notion that a vote could be equated with a dollar, a pound, or a pence would have been anathema; it would have been viewed as deeply insulting.

  6. fpo says:

    Much like Valley Girl’s reaction to “politics is the art of the possible,” I have a similar, visceral reaction to “conventional wisdom” as might relate to the American populace on the subject of climate change and the GND.

    Apart from scientists, supporters and limited segments of the US population that may have experienced firsthand the consequences of the symptoms of climate change (e.g., Midwest flooding, loss of coastal habitat in FL, recurring “100-year storms”, etc.) – and who MAY also appreciate the linkage thereto – “climate change” and/or the GND have become but one more politically-charged, election-year wedge issue(s) for many, if not most, Americans. The science and socio-economic issues related to climate change are complex and challenging, and defer to concerns about healthcare, jobs and the economy for many.

    It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to view support for the GND being as tenuous as support for Impeachment, given the current state of politics in this country – and subject to the same pressures, influences and associations. Whether those views and opinions are malleable or not, and independent of political affiliation, is an open question.

    The last two years have created an environment in which constructive discourse on the subject has little room to breathe, let alone shape any rational consensus on the issue. While several individual states have chosen to adhere to guidelines and standards established in the Paris agreement (from which tRump withdrew the US), further damage, due to rolling back environmental regulations AND the absence of proactive mitigation actions, seems unavoidable.

    For its part, the media has occasionally attempted to bring the issue forward, but only on a level commensurate with the importance of other issues “du jour” – and that will not be enough. As often as not, it is presented as an either/or, election year issue – with no attempt to educate or inform – and no sense of America’s incoherent, formal position on the issue. It’s scary as hell, but it’s not sexy.

    Whether the ship that is the “politics of the Green New Deal” can be righted is largely dependent on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. It will require a visionary, rallying effort – not unlike JFK’s call to win the space race – to fully establish and shape “conventional wisdom’ on the issue of climate change, and with it an appreciation for the significance and benefits of American leadership on the issue.

  7. Doug R says:

    “Eizenstat doesn’t mention HRC’s loss, but it’s the same thing. the leaders of the Democratic Party wanted her and not the changes Sanders demanded. The left was dismissed as impossible dreamers, and then blamed for her loss.”
    Do you not read the rest of THIS blog? Do I need to go into the levels of ratf*ckery involved in making sure HRC didn’t win, even though she got more votes than any white guy in history?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Shouting in caps commonly makes readers ignore your comments. Given Ed’s association with this blog, your question makes no sense.

      Your observation about rat-fuckery – you can use words without asterisks on this blog – seems directed to Trump’s campaign rather than Eizenstat, whose comments Ed was dissecting.

      Stuart Eizenstat is a power lawyer. He is a peer and longtime associate of both Bill and Hillary. He is a member of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party and not in favor of upsetting Wall Street’s boat. That makes him institutionally opposed to significant change of the kind proposed by the GND and those, like AOC, advocating it.

    • Ed Walker says:

      So you think Democratic leadership didn’t care if Sanders won, and didn’t blame the left for not supporting HRC adequately? Adorable.

      • Doug R says:

        It wasn’t Democratic leadership that made Hillary get 4,000,000 more votes than her opponent in the primary and 2,800,000 more votes than her opponent in the general. Don’t be sneering at the Democratic base, they’ve got better instincts than the purity pony brigade.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The sneering is coming from elsewhere. That you think the conservative, Wall Street favoring Democratic leadership had nothing to do with those vote tallies in the primaries and the general, you are underestimating quite a lot.

        • P J Evans says:

          That was three years ago. Why are you still fighting that battle? (also, I don’t think you understand how biased the caucuses are: they favor people who are young, white, and have money.)

          • Doug R says:

            Note Bernie won the Washington State caucus but not the primary which had multiple x participation.
            Now that Washington State will base their choice on primaries, I’m sure the Russians will magnify some “tyranny of the majority” grievances.

            The whole point of the Green New Deal is making things better, including climate. We actually have a majority that agrees with us on things like action on climate change and gun control. We can do more than one thing at a time.

          • Ed Walker says:

            Take a look at Eizenstat’s piece. He recites old grudges, and blames the left for the problems that he sees today. He thinks the left should shut up and follow.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Anyone running for president has a leg up simply by not being Donald Trump. On that score, all the Dems are the same. We should focus on how they’re different and make them work for the votes they want.

            The electability claim is, for example, establishment shorthand. It seeks to foreclose debate about why one Democrat would have more appeal than another. It benefits a candidate with name recognition and some level of charisma, but it avoids that candidate having to explain themselves or justify why they’re the best shot this time around.

            What we need to do for the next year, however, is exactly what the electability canard seeks to avoid: Make candidates explain their priorities and what they would do about them. Test those claims against each candidate’s history. Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be pro-consumer finance, for example, would be inherently more credible than Joe Biden’s, who has long been the banker’s friend in Congress.

            The establishment lament that the Dems will tear themselves apart debating such things and then not coalesce against Trump after the primaries is its attempt to short-circuit the primaries by having Dems coalesce around the establishment’s choice now.

            That’s an anti-democratic way to keep things the way they are. Ordinary Americans have had enough of that.

            Short-circuiting debate is like trying to lose weight by ordering pizza, because that’s the only food people can agree on. Short-term conflict avoidance will make long-term change impossible. That only works for those already at the top.

            • Ed Walker says:

              Well put, EoH. I do not think many Rs will vote for any Dem; the hope is that Trump is so noxious they’ll stay home or not vote in the Presidential race. But no Democrat or Dem-leaning person will vote for Trump either. Progressives have been voting for centrists as the lesser of two evils. Surely moderate Dems can vote for a progressive as infinitely superior to Trump. And Kilgore supplies a convincing reason to do so.

  8. Jonf says:

    A new study has found that 30 percent of the world’s population is currently exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more—and like a growing forest fire, climate change is spreading this extreme heat.

    Above is from a 2017 Nat Geo article on the threat of deadly heat. More people will die from extreme heat, so notwithstanding all the supposed arm waving about this crisis, best we set about fixing it before it becomes too late.

  9. Mainmata says:

    It should go without saying that the “cost” of the GND is a completely bogus argument. I actually work in the field of climate change mitigation but mainly in developing countries. For many of those countries, simple renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, micro-hydro) have brought power to rural areas where it never existed before, powering households, rural clinics and schools and creating new jobs and livelihoods. That’s just a fact, especially in Sub-Sharan Africa and Asia.

    But to this country, the cost of climate-exacerbated natural disasters just in the last two years has run into the hundreds of billions of dollars both in red and blue states. It will only get dramatically worse and really soon. How come that cost doesn’t count and doesn’t et mentioned? Because disaster capitalism is very profitable.

    That said, the power industry is already moving decisively to renewable power sources (also still natural gas, of course), a distributed grid and smart power. Coal will soon disappear and electric vehicles will continue to advance.

    That said, the oil industry remains very powerful but they provide far fewer jobs than renewable related industries and people have a vested interest in being their own power (solar) producers. And it just produces a huge amount of pollution and poisonous waste. The GOP (much less Trump) doesn’t care about the future at all, which is why it is a TINA situation (there is no alternative).

    • P J Evans says:

      A number of the oil-and-gas-based energy companies are investing in wind and solar – they’ve seen that handwriting, and are “diversifying” into areas that will keep them profitable.

      • timbo says:

        Hmm. Doesn’t explain why the Trump-ites seem to be opposed to renewal energy subsidies though… but, of course, perhaps Russia (and China (and Europe for that matter)) might stand to benefit more if we didn’t lead on renewable energy? Tis complex an issue as one might run across when in geo-economics and the struggle for dominance thereof.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That seems comparable to big tobacco buying up large areas for producing cannabis. It’s about maintaining monopoly revenues, not a recognition that anything they are doing is dangerous to everyone and the planet and that they need to change.

        • Mooser says:

          Cannabis will probably take care of itself, or I’ll help look after it, but I wish the US would grow more hemp, too, for many uses.

  10. Mooser says:

    The conventional wisdom on climate is more like the conventional conspiracy. The unstated subtext is that the most disastrous consequences of climate change can be made to fall on…well, somebody besides us. And after a massive die-off of the surplus population, everything will be fine, or even better. Sort of a Noah’s Biosphere myth.

    • Stacey says:

      “And after a massive die-off of the surplus population, everything will be fine, or even better. Sort of a Noah’s Biosphere myth.”

      Oooh, Post-manifestation awareness of THAT outcome is gonna HURT!

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    20 years or so ago, I began to realize that from the local level on up to state and federal levels, many people in policy positions (local and state elected) only have as much biology or science as they received in high school. They are intimidated by, and antagonistic toward, anything that looks like data or equations.

    20 years ago, it was becoming clear that policies based on ‘100 year storms’ were outdated: the storms were already surpassing the projections back then. We were already beyond what historical records could predict.

    I shudder to think how many hours of my life were misspent in discussions with people who could not distinguish between a mean, a median, and an average. These are not people who could assess the legitimacy of a study. They literally could not distinguish legitimate science from bogus bullshit.

    Nor can too many in the media. If even one reporter had asked Sarah Palin (or John McCain, or Joe Biden) about the unique chemical structure of carbon, and what that implied for acidification in the oceans, I’d have swooned.

    The conventional wisdom is not going to understand climate change, nor act on it effectively, because they have an emotional need to avoid conflict at all costs.

    They want ‘balance’ despite the fact that the systems going haywire and the natural cycles being disrupted are ‘asymmetric’.

    Consequently, conventional wisdom is the equivalent of standing like a deer in headlights, transfixed and paralyzed.

    Boldness will win the day.
    I have faith in pissed off Generation X and Millenials. They’re our best hope, and they won’t be listening to conventional wisdom.

  12. Stacey says:

    I have a shower knob/valve that is old and kinda whacked in a way that makes me think of climate change every morning when I adjust the water temperature. If the water is too hot or too cold, all I have to do is put my hand on the knob and THINK warmer or cooler thoughts and…then wait…quite a long while…and then oh, wow! that was a HUGE adjustment to the temperature that I didn’t intend to make that dramatic. Remember all I had to do was touch the knob and THINK warmer or cooler thoughts? The very slightest of movement in either direction is too much.

    The feedback loop is quite slow and yet extremely sensitive, which is a really bad combination, because by the time you realize you’ve touched the gun you’ve already blown your foot off! Oops! That’s us and climate change.

    Humans are really bad at perceiving slow feedback loops in general but when combined with extreme sensitivity in a complex system that ‘traipsing across a mine field’ sensation leads a lot of humans to paralysis and others to a blissful ignorant death dance across the field one now expects to die on…and those two options don’t even include the denialists, that’s a whole other set of psychological responses. And when you overlay our extractive economic model driving our head-up-our-ass politics on top of a situation humans don’t naturally navigate well to begin with, and then ‘which thing kills us first’ is sort of hard to predict.

    And did I mention that the speed of the feedback loop increases exponentially as you approach the tipping point when the shit hits the fan for real? And all of the models are showing much faster rates of change than any model had predicted on almost every measure.

    The phrase that has always given me a sort of gallos humor is the phrase “Nature bats last”, when said to Climate Change deniers. The thing is, reality is sort of persistent in the face of ‘alternative facts’ and the like. I mean, it’s a pyrrhic victory, but still.

  13. Bri2k says:

    One thing that scares me about a carbon tax is that it’ll be passed on to consumers which will make it inherently regressive. I don’t drive an old car because it’s a “classic” – it’s either that or the shoe-leather express.

    If anyone can point me to a plan that won’t end out being borne on the backs of those who can least afford it, I’d welcome the information.

    • Rayne says:

      “regressive,” as in prices reflect the true cost of goods sold including externalities related to carbon dioxide and other pollutants created during manufacturing or service?

      Bring it. We would have more time to deal with climate change had COGS always included the expenses shunted off onto the public. We’d have left combustion engines decades ago if oil had not been heavily subsidized. It’s time for pricing to reflect real costs so that consumers make better informed decisions.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I think we can. And if the basic function of life and livability of our own children, not to mention their progeny, what kind of jerk is not willing to make that investment in the future? Is that you?

        • Rayne says:

          What an overly simplistic view of economics. Can the poor afford new homes after hurricanes and flooding, or can they pay a bit more for gasoline at the pump? We know they’ll survive $4.00/gallon because we’ve been there and yet the average price is closer to $3.00.

          The market doesn’t always respond as it should, and that’s when we should hammer on our representatives until they investigate why — like the ridiculous costs and barriers to broadband across the country. There’s no excuse for it apart from corruption in our political system.

          One example of market shifting to meet opportunity: the poor couldn’t afford iPhones. Welcome to Android. I know of a health care provider who give away free phones to their Medicare patients because it’s a cheap means to reach patients.

          One way or another the poor are going to pay. Be engaged and demand equitable distribution of risk’s costs to everyone or end up crushed.

        • jonf says:

          There really is no option here. All of us will pay either to mitigate the coming disaster or to replace what has been flooded or burned down. And if the climate heats up more there will be crop failures, more death and perhaps even millions migrating away from that deadly heat. That could mean famine and even war.

          Better we get out in front of it and make a positive difference. The GND is a way to do it and it is comprehensive. Anything else is just talk.

          • Rayne says:

            We’re already paying for it, some sooner than later. Just ask the families of the 3000 Puerto Ricans who died after Hurricane Maria.

            I am bothered by the lack of awareness most people have about the state of this ‘slow emergency’. They only notice big, dramatic crises and not the ones visible in the near distance, like the crop failures this year due to two back-to-back bomb cyclones followed by late season cold combined with heavy precipitation. It’s visible in Google New if one searches for “flooding crop planting.” What happens next if we have two or more years of crop and livestock failures in a row, exacerbated by Trump’s truly stupid trade policies?

            • Jonf says:

              Indeed. Syria may have also been a reaction to crop failure triggering a migration. In the last three years the slow motion you referred to has quickened a good deal. It is now undeniable.

    • Ed Walker says:

      The point of this series is exactly to answer this question. The Green New Deal is designed to insure that the burdens of climate change and the burdens of responding to climate change are not shoved off onto the working class. Here’s what I mean.

      Suppose carbon pricing is a good solution. Suppose it passes as part of the Green New Deal. Your health care costs will drop. Your cost of educating your children will drop. If you lose your job because of the changes, you will be able to find work quickly. And there’s more. Finally, I don’t like the idea of carbon pricing as a stand-alone solution, but any system will include some form of rebate to some reasonably large group of people, probably including you, especially if everyone in your position demands it.

      That should put enough room in your budget to pay the increase in fuel prices.

      • P J Evans says:

        Back in 2002 I needed to replace my ancient car (it was more than 20 years old; parts were getting hard to find). Being aware of Peak Oil, I went with a hybrid, because it was the most fuel-efficient car I could get at the time. (I took the train to work, because I wasn’t about to drive into downtown L.A.)

    • fpo says:

      Perhaps the new $2T Infrastructure ‘agreement’ between Trump, Schumer and Pelosi can be instructive wrt funding a large, ‘public interest/benefit’ program – one that, like the GND, is definitely not in the budget.

      tRump will no doubt be OK with borrowing the money, while the Ds look to (increased) taxes. And while we know Republicans don’t like the idea of raising the gas tax, let’s see if they can come up with a new idea or two of their own. I’m not optimistic, but curious to see how they all line up on this one – and if they can even get to the point of having an adult conversation on the subject.

      [ ]

    • e.a.f. says:

      We’ve had a carbon tax, on gas, in British Columbia, going back to the last decade. We’re doing fine and the economy is doing very well. there are 4 provinces in Canada who didn’t have a policy in place to deal with carbon, or had one and then the next provincial government changed it or eliminated it. Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal government have passed a federal law, if your province doesn’t have a plan, he’s got one and its law. It costs everyone. On the upside, all those who pay it, receive a rebate. For lower income families, they actually receive approx. $70 more than they pay out. its not perfect, but its a start. Carbon taxes don’t have to negatively impact low income families, if it is rebated to them.

  14. gmoke says:

    I suspect the carbon tax plan Taylor and Niskanen support is the one championed by Jim Baker and George Schultz which would impose a revenue neutral carbon tax and would also exempt the fossil fools from any liability for their actions over the past decades when they knowingly made climate change both inevitable and worse in order to gain short term profits.

    Personally, I’m trying to promote the idea that the Friday school strike for climate should transform itself into regular Friday teach-ins on climate and then into Friday hackathons and brainstorms for global climate solutions, which are readily available for those who have the eyes to see. Then again, I’ve been publishing a free weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events around Cambridge, MA ( for about a decade now and have yet to see the environmental community make use of that resource the way they could.

    My approach to climate change is
    100% renewables ASAP
    zero emissions economy ASAP
    carbon drawdown ASAP
    geotherapy (not geoengineering) ASAP


    At least as a thought experiment.

    I suggest these things not because I believe anyone is reading or listening but because it seems so obvious and I’d kick myself if I didn’t point it out, having spent the last 40 years educating myself on the issue by shuttling between lectures at Harvard and MIT and other places.

  15. ken melvin says:

    A place from which to begin:

    Crime: a grave offense especially against morality;
    Sin: an offense against religious or moral law;
    Moral: of or relating to principles of right and wrong behavior …

    History bears witness the never enumerated genocide of indigenous people by European colonialism and consequent settlement; the African slave trade of some 14 plus million plus where some 4 million died in transit and survivors knew an average life expectancy of 23 years in Brazil’s sugar plantations; the Nazi genocide of 17 million; … But history has seen nothing of the scale we are witnessing unfold today — the greatest sin, the greatest crime, the greatest moral offense, imaginable.

    The perpetrators include us all. We have overpopulated, and because of this, over-consumed. We have chosen (or have allowed ourselves to be manipulated into) subscribing to dogma and ideology instead of reason. The masses can plead ignorance. Those claiming the mantle of leadership cannot; making the right decisions is their charge. Jimmy Carter took this charge seriously only to have Reagan reverse his actions. Bush I said he would but didn’t. Clinton gave it global warming a long wink and a good nod. Bush II talked for and worked against. Obama did about all he could given the congressional politics. Today, Trump and the congressional republicans are in full-throated denial; refusing to even address the symptoms less they be called out for blasphemy by their pimp masters. When we look back to the caliber of some our past leaders and particularly the founding fathers, we ask how did we get here and can but take some responsibility for this current sorry lot.

    Their blasphemy against science and reason should be a crime. The voter may have a right to be ignorant, believe whatever, … pledge their fealty to an ancient cult; an elected leader shouldn’t. In this era of science and technology; most republican congress persons are science deniers pledging their fealty to those beliefs espoused by the most ignorant of their supporters.

  16. e.a.f. says:

    If we do not get serious about the climate change thing and pollution, everything on this planet, or most of it, is going to die. A large % of the world’s population isn’t contributing much to all that carbon because they don’t have much. they’re too poor. Now those countries some times have mass pollution and carbon because first world countries have their polluting carbon industries conducted in 2nd and 3rd world countries. And then as in the case of Canada, we export our pollution, like all that garbage sent to the Philippines after China decided to no longer accept it.

    No one is going to do much about it, because major corporations and even small ones don’t want to give up their profits. Best way to deal with that, is tax them into compliance. Not going to happen until we get a reign on money in politics. North Americans, Europeans, some parts of China are huge consumers. We create the problem. We either tax it out of the system or we start educating children in grade school to avoid over consumption. just like kids learnt in school the dangers of smoking and not wearing seat belts.

    Governments will change things once they notice they’ll be voted out of office if they don’t deal with climate change. They love the power. Corporations will only stop doing “bad” things when it costs them too much. People who “have”, like us in North America, don’t know how we are going to convince people they don’t need a new t.v., cell phone, computer every year. We talk about being environmental right up until the newest cell phone comes out. I had mine for 8 years, some t.v.s up to 18 years, but giving up single use plastic bags, omg, not until they’re $5 each unless they give me paper bags which we had in the “old” days.

    What ever we’ve been doing isn’t working. It needs to change, just don’t know how.

    • Eureka says:

      Hey e.a.f., it sounds like you’d like to alter that habit– I will happily brain-storm here with you to help find a workable way to reduce those single-use-bags.

      Do you have time at 3:07 pm tomorrow to go put some bags in the car/on the bike/ in the backpack (whatever you take to the store)? Even ‘just’ the plastic ones you’ve received before that are ‘clean,’ i.e. just had something like dry goods in them (ones that may be ‘dirty’ can make for great garbage bags).

      It’s helpful even if you can use them more than once, and even only some of them.

      • e.a.f. says:

        Didn’t get back here until 11:30 a.m., 3 May. O.K. I’ll put the big blue IKEA bags back in the vehicles.
        On Vancouver Island, they started charging for bags, one chain uses only paper bags and charges 10 cents and gives all the money to charity. My favorite small chain, uses plastic and charges, and gives the money to charity. I was able to convince myself it was a charity donation. I do use the bags again as garbage bags, They’re not thrown away, but I realize I need to use my big IKEA blue bags. My biggest thing about re-useable bags is people keep them in their vehicles, the kids and dogs walk on them and then they’re put on the conveyor belt, yikes.

        The shame, the shame, public blog, has provided me with a personal coach to get through this. O.K. I’m back with my re-useable blue tarp bags, which I can spray with vinegar/soap and hang on the line.

        Still prefer the paper bags we used to have back in the 1950s, 60s,……..I’m old, not dead, I can change.

        My biggest contribution to the environment was to not have children. Do keep vehicles 10 years or longer, cell phones until they’re dead, t.v.s until they’re non functional. Once retired, did not drive Mondays. After 21 yrs of retirement have reduced it to driving 3 days a week.. I’m whinning….so unbecoming.

  17. El Cid says:

    Look we need to find a middle path between the extreme of crashing headlong into the iceberg or the extreme of avoiding the iceberg entirely.

    Mature people will appreciate the logic in turning partly away from the iceberg so that only a long portion of the hull is scraped open. And if that happens, we have procedures to help us deal with the results.

  18. jaango says:

    The Latino Perspective Challenges “anti-Semitism”…

    Among the latest conservative writers, and now receiving public attention, is David Harsanyi, and he’s written his article, titled, “A Hatred Of Israel Is The One Thing All Anti-Semites Have In Common,” published in the Federalist, and dated April 29, 2019.

    As such “The three strands of modern anti-Semitism: far left, far right and Islamist”–at least from my experience, is equivalent to today’s more faux academia.

    Thus, the Pundits, Sages and Gurus, speaking to this subject matter of anti-Semitism, seem to converge all across the political landscape, especially when effectively addressing this ‘history’ but where their Missing-in-Action (MIA) wherewithal, is in failing to integrate the Latino Perspective that does include America’s future and where this future inclusivity is premised on “decency personified.” And this is the point where Harsanyi comes up short nonetheless for all that’s propaganda and therefore, he stipulates the blanket coverage that comes forth as “the collective anger over Israel is proof.” Not so, of course.

    However, the ‘history’ of the Latino Perspective says otherwise, and it’s ‘otherwise’ that Hersanyi comes up short via his presumptive propaganda. As such,I am a writer for a editorial platform that’s dedicated to military vets–Chicano and Native American, with a membership roster of 40,000 members residing in our wonderful Sonoran Desert. And over thirty-five years ago, the Chicano Movement issued its Agenda of Unmet Needs, and of the ten issues addressed, our nation’s first and foremost foreign policy issue, and in keeping with our National Security and Defense Schematic was in addressing the compatability between Israelis and Palestinians. And this existing ‘relationship’ continues to remain our first and foremost foreign policy issue and deserving of our continued attention, after all these many years, and well into the future.

    Today, our future is predicated and identified via Joe Teagan, Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University, when he writes the following:

    “The growing importance of black, Latino and Asian American voters and leaders reflects the dramatic demographic changes underway in the U.S. Americans of color are now a majority in California, Texas, Hawaii, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. By the 2020s, whites are likely to become a minority in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New York and New Jersey.” AND “By the 2040s whites will likely be a minority overall, and soon thereafter most voters will be people of color.”

    Unfortunately, Harsanyi fails to understand that his misguided belief falls into the category that we, here in the Desert, argue, is that he’s been captured by the political forces that demands more ‘authoritarianism’ be inserted into the Neoliberalism Schematic and conventionally rejects the notion that America must be of a “Decency Personified” mindset. And even more so, when the nation-state of Israel and its well-endowed grifters and grafters, finally addresses our reality and which is not embedded in either Semetism or Anti-Semitism.

    And as to our first and foremost “foreign policy” issue, we continue to demand of our next female president, she issue from the Oval Office, our National Request to the UN’s General Assembly, for establishing a Border Commission, charged with defining and delineating the geographical boundary between the nation-states of Palestine and Israel. Therefore, a street-by-street basis and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, as per Jimmy Carter’s Peace Process, seems appropriate.

    However, should the Security Council interfere in this Border Commission and for which it portends for this ‘deep in the weeds’ battle, the expectation that Russia, China and Iran, would put a kaboosh to our goodly national intentions for perpetuating our National Security and Defense options relative to the next twenty to thirty years, would concretize itself in opposition.

    And needless to say but I will, the highly paid, commentators on the political Right, are in the midst of their Argumentation that Russia, China and Iran must to ‘corralled’–but only from the standpoint of international economics and leading to a continued and ‘camouflaged’ rapt attention for a more authoritarian-oriented Neoliberalism, despite our relevance of our Latino Perspective.

    In closing, those of us and advocates for the ever-present Latino Perspective readily admit that what’s consistent with demographics, our future readily recognizes that the Argumentation of today and which is between Semitism and Anti-Semitism will die of ‘natural causes.’ And please be so advised since these ‘natural causes’ will show up on the doorstep climate deniers, as well.

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