A country where there is no pollution, and everyone has a job sounds like a perfect place to live. This utopian vision of a state is the end game for the Green New Deal that is presented by the Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. But as David Brooks states in his article “How the Left Embraced Elitism,” this idea is still far from reality.
The Green New Deal is a proposed economic program that has a goal to transform the American economy, making it more environmentally friendly as it combats economic inequality. And it is hard to argue these points. It is of upmost importance for this country, and the rest of the world, that we preserve and regenerate ecological systems of our planet. At the end, nothing else matters if we don’t have anywhere to live. Also, most of us understand the importance of economic equality. Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens focus on this issue in their book “Democracy in America?” They present us with multiple reasons how this has negative influences on democracy. The middle and lower class are growing increasingly unsatisfied with their economic situation and the gap between them and the economic elite. This leads to dissatisfaction with the government and in some cases to riots and other more extreme means of political change. Then there is also the problem of the elite and how their money can influence politics.
Having said all of this, I believe that this program is approaching these problems in a highly unrealistic way. First, the economic model that they want to put in place could setback any environmental improvements. The main idea behind this program is all around inclusion of the population in the workforce; to give a job to everyone who wants it. The article compares it with the economic situation in the United States during the Second World War. And even though it is true that this led to enormous growth in the American economy in post-war years, it is also true that this was a mainly industrial and production-based economy. It was not something one would particularly refer to as “green.” It is this production that led us to the environmental issues that we have today. And this is the only way you can give “everyone” a job. Not everyone can be a scientist, a doctor or a manager. In fact, with efforts to generalize the education system and make it completely controlled by the government, the quality of education will go down and so will the numbers and qualifications of these “experts.”
There is also a problem of the efficiency of the government that is supposed to put this complex plan into play. We expect the government to be able to run every aspect of the economy, large energy companies, and the whole finance sector with the same or better efficiency as the titans of industry that have been in this sector for decades. And as David Brooks points out, this is the same Congress that can’t pass the budget. There is no evidence of the government being able to function this way in any country even close to the size of the United States. With American society experiencing the highest levels of political and social cleavage since maybe the Civil War, the extremely divided politicians in Washington seem to be unable to pull something like this off successfully and effectively. Robert A. Dahl also touched on this subject in his work “On Democracy,” where he states that history has shown us that individuals driven by their personal interests produce much better economic results compared to the government run businesses. He also points out an additional concern that comes with the centralization of the economy, which is also mentioned by David Brooks. It is very dangerous to put such power in the hands of the top few. and it is hard to see an outcome of this where those in power don’t get corrupted by their new-found power.
We are at a turning point in history with economic, social and ecological issues that are getting bigger and more dangerous every day. It is very important to act on them as soon as possible, but the Green New Deal is not the solution. As Brooks says, we had these plans before in the 1880s, the 1910s, and the 1930s, and they have never been successful to the extent to which they should have been. It is time that we start learning from history, or we may just end up being stuck in the books as another great civilization that just could not do it right.