Politics, recent

What Joan Didion Foretold About Campaign Socialism and Popularity

“In the understandably general yearning for “change” in the governing of this country, we might pause to reflect on just what is being changed, and by whom, and for whom.”

-Joan Didion, Eye on the Prize, September, 1992

I read Joan Didion when I’m feeling less like a writer and more like a sloganeer, lobbing ill-conceived aphorisms at passing ideas like soft tomatoes. I’ve wondered what I’d say if I met her, though I’ve never sought opportunities to do so, which speaks more to my laziness than my desire to engage such a wonderful writer. I wouldn’t make much of a stalker; all that lurking about in bushes seems rather an itchy hobby, but I’d still like to buy her a cup of tea.

In a 2007 Jezebel article about Ms. Didion, Jessica Grose wrote, “She’s not messy or weepy or maternal or particularly sympathetic—which is to say, she is not stereotypically “feminine”— and so men can read her without feeling like pussies.” I read that article several years after becoming a fan of Didion’s work and wondered at the time if it might be true. I decided it just might be as I was then steeped in Cormac Mccarthy and Larry McMurtry, Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard.

Ms. Didion has never been touted as a soothsayer, but in reading some of her essays, it struck me that her thoughts on morality, feminism, and the inherent fragility of popular ideas, have an evergreen quality about them that are easily set against the mores of the newly sworn Beltway socialists.

Some are drawn to socialism as branded for campaigns, not solely because of the promise of a bigger share of public coffers but to be part of a movement, any movement, so long as it’s conspicuous. It doesn’t matter if the trend is wearing pink labi-attire at marches or pretending to enjoy a celery-juice enema, so long as the cool kids are on it. The notion; socialism as currently framed must be good because it flaps its butterfly wings across every news cycle.

The most prominent advocates of it, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Bernie Sanders, are so branded as Trump antagonists that the mainstream media will scuttle all reminders of history to flaunt this trifecta before the proletariat, creating a specter of popularity in a set of bad ideas that has begun to take form.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or “AOC,” is the media’s Palpatine to the franchise they loathe. I have no reason to think AOC is anything but a lovely person, but she is perceived to have more popularity than she actually has which leads to a bandwagon effect. The website of the Democratic Socialists of America¹ (DSA), has not been updated since the last election, but they claim only 24,000 members as of July, 2017. More have certainly joined in the interim, given AOC’s victory. I’ve seen estimates closer to the 50,0000 mark but that hardly warrants the level of enthusiasm proffered by the corporate media—no irony there.

Green New Deal Governance

Means of production is a threshold term in the U.S., one used in polite political discourse to shoo away the idea that someone may be a socialist—still a bad word in America—because the politico under discussion had not yet crossed said threshold by flatly stating the government should control the means of production and therefore, he or she is not yet to be accused of having Marxist aspirations. But the Green New Deal does in fact require that the government control the means in almost every case, including the segment that claims all buildings will be retrofitted in ten years.

This could not plausibly occur without the oversight of a massive, expensive government agency, taking years to staff and organize into its requisite bureaucracy. Were this project to be undertaken by the private sector, irrespective of funding sources, the bidding, pricing, contractual and planning processes would take years at a minimum to be compliant with the regulations of some other federal agency yet ordained. To accomplish just one goal, the GND government would necessarily control the means of the planning, procuring, hiring and execution of this piece of a puzzle that grows more peculiar with each new explanation of what was really meant in the original draft.

Left behind in the rhetoric of green deals and robber barons are the inconvenient truths of state power, the disappearance of dissidents, the gulags, the re-education camps, the low-wage toil, forced relocations, sterilizations, ostracized families, compelled compliance and most lovely—famine, all in the name of the greater good.

Ms. Didion said in her review of “The Sound of Music,” that it was, “More embarrassing than most, if only because of its suggestion that history need not happen to people like Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Just whistle a happy tune, and leave the Anschluss behind.” So too the quicksilver socialists leave the Cheka behind as they whistle collective-farm tunes in the Congressional sub-basements.

The first leader of the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, said in July 1918, “We stand for organized terror—this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly.”² So does the Twitterati.

Two of the groups the Cheka was responsible for in its mission to squash enemies of the revolution were, those under suspicion of not supporting the Soviet government and anyone whose private property was valued at more than 10,000 rubles. This is suspiciously like the argument often used by radical progressives after staking their claims in the moral high ground. “If you don’t support us and our beliefs, you must not care about poor people or displaced refugees or the rest of haunted humanity.”

In time, your willful lack of support for their agenda becomes a subversive act. You become an enemy of the state. “You’re a caviar-eating Romanov and you shall turn over your private property to the righteous ladies in white. We, the enlightened ones, the “it girls” of state-run media, will decide how to spend our mone— oops, the people’s funds.”

The white outfits at the State of the Union address, which looked more like a 25th reunion of communicants than the vestigial tribute to suffragism it purported to be, symbolize the statist cabal of the political left, glorious in the ideal but difficult to wear year-round and a bitch to clean once the grit of reality works into the fibers.

These comers of statism are masters of the turn-away. They turn away from history’s revulsive truths, questions about anti-Semitism in their ranks or felonious sexual assaults from other democrats. They ignore sincere curiosity about their understanding of the drain their instruments will have on public troughs, about their plans for how when accepting their why should be good enough.

Mythos Awry

I know AOC because I was AOC. My father died at 41 and my widowed mother raised four young kids on a civil-service salary. We weren’t well off. I too bristled at the wealth of others or enjoyed the schadenfreude of watching an expensive car being dragged onto a flatbed. But as I came to understand the ingenious and careful ways wealth can be created, I outgrew my envy. AOC’s anger at billionaires is learned behavior. I can imagine her position on taxes softening as she enjoys the wealth and privilege universally bestowed upon our national representatives.

Marxism in this country has ever been an eccentric and quixotic passion. One oppressed class after another had seemed finally to miss the point. The have‐nots, it turned out, aspired mainly to having.

-Joan Didion, The Women’s Movement, New York Times, 1972

The same media elites who created candidate Trump with limitless free air time, in hopes he’d be the nominee Clinton would beat, are now giving tacit approval to socialist ideas by creating a popular political figure in the lithe anti-Trump form of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-individualist camarilla. The cognoscenti don’t seem to care that they are elevating bad ideas because they recognize what an abrasive figure Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is to the deplorable set. It’s a ship they’ll list now and hope to right later, assuming a wave doesn’t sink it.

The mythos of Bernie-Bro socialism is a story bereft of truth. Dropping the word gulag into the mix doesn’t begin to detail the recipe for human misery that state-run life is, if you could call it life at all. Marx said socialism is born of revolution, that there must be abundance first in order to have something to redistribute and he conceded that only a powerful state could keep suppressed those who might wish to entertain the idea of seeking their own (selfish) abundance. But as Solzhenitsyn reminded, “Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.”

Joan Didion’s closing passage from her 1965 essay, On Morality, is apropos for the glitter of AOC’s preposterous plans and their dreamy popularity. Ms. Didion presaged this sluicing of socialist backwater on the parched landscape of democratic ideas:

Because when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.

 

Joe Hefferon is a retired police captain and crime writer. You can follow him on Twitter @HefferonJoe.

References:

¹ DSA membership https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/history/

² The Communist Secret Police: Cheka, Spartacus Educational https://spartacus-educational.com/RUScheka.htm

118 Comments

  1. Hellen Harvey says

    Again the myth of socialistic policies slippery sloping to ugly communism. Give it up please.

    • Are you ever concerned you’re talking past people you might otherwise convince?

      Why is it important to use the word “socialist” if for a large subset of people it is irreconcilably connected to state control of the means of production?

    • ga gamba says

      Where has it not?

      And no, you may not claim Scandinavia. When the prime minister of Denmark says the Nordics aren’t socialist, you have to take him at his word.

      The foundational policy of socialism is the seizure of the means of production from the capital owners by labour and the replacement of the market economy by the planned one. From this all else spring forth.

      So, Hellen, since you’re so well versed in socialism, please give me the plan of how all the means of production will be taken from the capital-owning class and distributed to the workers. Break it down as a business plan, like you would need to make for a bank loan or to entice investors.

      I’m a sporting chap, so I’ll give you a leg up. The value of all publicly traded companies on US stock markets at the end of 2017 was $32 trillion. That’s fewer than 8,000 companies whose present owners include not only big shots and fat cats but also teachers’ pension funds, union employees, and individuals’ 401(k) retirement plans. Foreign companies are also listed on US markets and foreigners own shares, so you’ll have to attend to that without a diplomatic fallout or worse.

      Once you devise the plan for that, don’t neglect the other 28 million businesses in the US that you’ll need to seize and redistribute.

      Once that’s sorted, tell me how you’ll plan production. Hundreds thousands of bureaucrats, many of whom were the best and brightest, in the USSR, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe gave it go, so you may use the lessons learnt to avoid their mistakes.

      I look forward to reading it. Don’t neglect to deal with how you’ll address capital flight.

      • Farris says

        The question becomes if the Democratic Socialist of America do not advocate actual State ownership of the means of production then are they true socialists?

        “Fascism supports a state interventionism into markets and private enterprise, alongside a corporatist framework referred to as the “third position” that ostensibly aims to be a middle-ground between socialism and capitalism by mediating labour and business disputes to promote national unity. 20th century fascist regimes in Italy and Germany adopted large public works programs to stimulate their economies, state interventionism in largely private-sector dominated economies to promote re-armament and national interests. Scholars have drawn parallels between the American New Deal and public works programs promoted by fascism, arguing that fascism similarly arose in response to the threat of socialist revolution and similarly aimed to “save capitalism” and private property.”
        The Political Economy of Fascism, by Gupta, Dipankar. 1977. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 12, No. 25 (Jun. 18, 1977), pp. 987-992.

        Due to the Nazi stain the term fascism fell out of favor but its economic goals and ideals still proliferate.

        “As an ideological stance, social democracy took shape around the mid-twentieth century, resulting from the tendency among western socialist parties not only to adopt parliamentary strategies, but also to revise their socialist goals. In particular, they abandoned the goal of abolishing capitalism and sought instead to reform or ‘humanize’ it. Social democracy therefore came to stand for a broad balance between the market economy, on the one hand, and state intervention, on the other.”

        Heywood, Andrew (2012) Political Ideologies: An Introduction (5th ed.). Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

        Notice the similarities.

        • E. Olson says

          Farris – very insightful and accurate comment – Democratic Socialism is exactly like National Socialism (aka Nazi), including environmental totalitarianism.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ga gamba

        “Where has it not? And no, you may not claim Scandinavia.”

        No, I do claim Scandinavia. One quote out of context does not change the fact that most people understand that there is such a thing as democratic socialism (or is that ‘social democracy’ I can’t remember which is which). In a world where sane moderation needs to be rediscovered it is not helpful that people insist that it is either Milton Freedman or it is Mao.

        “The mythos of Bernie-Bro socialism is a story bereft of truth.”

        It is a story with a proven track-record. Bernie was (I’m not a biographer of Bernie, so pardon mistakes or omissions here:) both a mayor and a governor and under his rule Vermont was not converted into North Korea. Can we get a grip? Furthermore it is grossly unfair to lump Bernie in with AOC. Bernie has been singing the same song for donkey’s years, long before it became the latest craze. He means what he says. He knows how to use an adding machine (so they say). He does not speak in shrink-wrapped soundbites. He is not a Victemocrat. I like Bernie. He is far to the left of my humble self, but he’s an honest guy and I’d vote for him over any of the other mad-dogs or chancers in Washington on either side of the isle of the damned.

        • Carolyn says

          Scandinavia isn’t socialist. Sweden, for example, is a market economy overlaid with high taxation of its citizens, but without centrally planned industries or high corporate taxes. Sweden’s social welfare system worked because of its demographic and cultural cohesion and relatively small population, but is starting to fray with the importation of high numbers of incompatible migrants from the Middle East. What works in Sweden would never work in the United States, with its cultural and demographic diversity, a population of 330 million ( compared to Sweden’s barely 10 million), and its huge land mass, not to mention Americans’ ingrained habit of individualism and free markets buttressed by hundreds of years of law and custom.

          As for Bernie, he was mayor of Burlington and then congressman and senator from Vermont, but never governor of Vermont. Since government work is the only thing he knows, it’s not surprising that his default policy prescription would be socialism, a system that requires lots and lots of government. And you’re right, he has been a consistent socialist. His tastes and comfortable finances are also consistent with the circumstances of a dedicated socialist leader … his years as a “public servant” have turned him into a millionaire with three homes to his name and a fondness for private jet travel.

    • Tersitus says

      Sorry— the slippery slope never leads to communism— it just leads to cronyism, economic deterioration and depressed circumstance, isolated political elites, civil conflict, and a world of grey people. But before all that come the dismissive tools.

    • Tersitus says

      And maybe the author’s real point is that reading a little Joan Didion could be a slippery slope to something like better judgment.

    • DeplorableDude says

      True socialism always devolves into dictatorial socialism also known as communism. It’s the only way to force people to work without reaping all the benefits. Cuba, NK, Venezuela, Russia, etc.

  2. JoePingo says

    Yet the Green New Deal has an eerie similarity to infamous 5 year plans. Hefferon’s piece is not so much of a myth as that of a socialist Utopia.

  3. Joe Stalin says

    There was much justified scoffing at the GND promise of a guaranteed income for those unwilling to work. And the refurbishment of all the nation’s buildings, possibly as tents. But what got overlooked was the guarantee of a job for all, after most existing jobs have been eliminated. Real city-emptying ambition!

  4. Bubblecar says

    Hmm, a discussion of the possibility of a new New Deal suddenly descends into:

    “the disappearance of dissidents, the gulags, the re-education camps, the low-wage toil, forced relocations, sterilizations, ostracized families, compelled compliance and most lovely—famine”

    While there was certainly famine at the time Roosevelt introduced the original New Deal, it was famine caused by the near-collapse of capitalism. None of the other nasty things mentioned here was a feature of the New Deal, unless I’ve been reading the wrong history books.

    But then I see you’re not talking about moderate democratic socialist proposals at all, but dashing off to foreign climes of quite distant times, and talking about various experiences of totalitarian communism there. And yes, inevitably, you ascribe their crimes to the “Twitterati”…

    And the Quillette editors wonder why people who were initially enthusiastic about their project are now prone to much eye-rolling.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Bubblecar

      “None of the other nasty things mentioned here was a feature of the New Deal …”

      Please let’s not conflate Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ with other New Deals mentioned in the article.

      All of these New Deals have something useful to teach us about socialism. Particularly those of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China in the 20th Century.

    • ga gamba says

      While there was certainly famine at the time Roosevelt introduced the original New Deal, it was famine caused by the near-collapse of capitalism.

      You know, you could check this. I looked up the list of famines, and the famine you imagine… it didn’t happen.

      There was a drought called the Dust Bowl, but this was not a famine if we accept a common definition of it. Famine is a situation in which large numbers of people have little or no food, and many of them die. The population had a rough go of it, but it didn’t die off; in fact, during the Great Depression US population increased. One might think that this happened because of immigration, but from 1924 the US had a very strict immigration policy based on quotas – the open door of the 19th and early 20th century closed considerably. In 1930, President Hoover issued instructions banning immigrants “likely to become a public charge.” Immigration fell dramatically as a result. Though Roosevelt liberalised it somewhat, many Americans continued to oppose immigration on economic grounds. Immigrants therefore, had to find an American sponsor who had the financial resources to guarantee they would not become burden on the state.

      And, of course, who’d want to immigrate to the land of famine, right?

      I noticed your comments follow this formula:
      1) Assertion.
      2) No substantiation provided.
      3) Slag off Quillette.

      It’s form without substance, and without even the decency of being gracious to your host. What barn were you raised in?

      The peculiar thing is, not only are you one of the least productive commentators here, you also are one of the most dissatisfied regular readers here.

      What’s up with that? You going to be a whingeing bludger forever, eh?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ga gamba

        That was beneath you. Ok, the Dust Bowl was not a famine, but millions of kids went to bed hungry. Is that a nit worth picking?

        • ” Ok, the Dust Bowl was not a famine, but millions of kids went to bed hungry.”

          Millions of kids go to bed hungry in this country every night right now, despite producing enough food to feed our entire national population 1 1/2 times over.

          Does that mean we are experiencing a famine right now?

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Hellen Harvey:

      > Again the myth of socialistic policies slippery sloping to ugly communism.

      Sure, just because it’s resulted in slavery, starvation, and mass murder the last 20 or 30 times is no reason to expect the same this time. You’ll get it right this time. Really.

      It’s mind-boggling that anyone can still defend the Marxist agenda with the example of Venezuela still fresh in the headlines, even if one ignores the other hundred million victims within living memory.

      Bubblecar:

      > While there was certainly famine at the time Roosevelt introduced the original New Deal,

      There certainly was not. Not in the United States, anyway. There were hungry people, certainly, but there weren’t millions of people dying of starvation in the streets. You know where there was a real famine at the time of the New Deal? The Soviet Union, that’s where, and it wasn’t caused by capitalism.

      > unless I’ve been reading the wrong history books

      You’ve been reading the wrong “history” books. Try reading something besides Howard Zinn. There are all kinds of perspectives out there. Of course, that would require that you read something contrary to the evil religion called Marxism.

      • JWatts says

        “Try reading something besides Howard Zinn. ”

        Or just watch a movie from the time period.

    • Tersitus says

      Green New Deal. Wow! Sounds so cool, so fresh, so downright great American. But then, So does Medicare for All, Free College,a $50 minimum wage, and a chicken in every pot. Per Hamlet in the library, sans stocking… Words. Words. But what’s the matter.
      So let’s get past names and games and down to some particulars of your “moderate democratic socialist proposal,” Bubble, before you leave the free thought zone for Vanity Fair or GQ or wherever. Give us a quick outline of how you start to get to wherever the there is that you think you want to get to. Maybe a glimpse of what your there looks like. To JoeP’s salient point, brief, summary New Five Year Plan, say? Cost/benefit estimates optional.

    • E. Olson says

      Bubblecar – it is very clear from your comments that you are certainly reading the wrong history books. Hoover’s tax increases and trade killing tariffs, together with the heavy handed regulation of the New Deal were what kept the US economy from recovering from the bursting stock market bubble of October 1929, which otherwise would have been nothing more than a serious recession. Only the WWII military buildup 11 years later brought the country out of the government caused Great Depression.

      The New Deal also had several nasty things to infringe on private property rights, such a forcing managers to accept union representation of workers (Wagner Act) and government mandates for minimum wage (which was not a good strategy with 25% unemployment), and farmers forced to follow government quotas on production (AAA, FSA). These acts were enforced by police action, and the courts and resulted in one of the most far-reaching cases in US history in Wickard v. Filburn (1942). The Wickard decision basically gave the US government unlimited authority to force citizens compliance with government mandates regarding the use their own personal property and wealth, and was one of the cornerstones in the government argument that forced citizens to buy Obamacare policies or be fined (or jailed) for non-compliance. The internment of Japanese citizens during WWII can also be seen as an outgrowth of New Deal police control over the economy and citizenry that was far over and above anything prior.

      • Nicholas Decker says

        Dear Mr. Olson,
        Regarding the second paragraph, what exactly is the problem with all those actions? You seem to be saying that any compulsion in how one disposes of their property is inherently a bad thing, but if that is true, then wouldn’t any tax for any purpose be a bad thing? Would the military in World War Two or Social Security or Medicare all be inherently bad?

        Moreover, as to the specific acts, if the results of the policy are good, then so is the policy. The Wagner act made our unions stronger, increasing the median wage. The AAA raised crop prices so that farmers would stay in business and not cease to produce owing to low prices. The FSA was a program to move poor farmers off of bad land to good land when the farmers were unable to have the funds or stability to do so themselves. As for Wickard vs. Filburn, what exactly is the problem with the government demanding compliance? The government demands compliance with are laws regarding murder and fraud. What is the issue with the government demanding compliance with a democratically mandated law?

        In that instance, it was a good law too. Filburn was benefitting from the higher crop prices, and if farmers were allowed to cheat on the quotas, everyone would be hurt. Would that be better, just because the rights of property isn’t infringed?

        Finally, just to clear up an inaccuracy in your comment, one cannot be jailed for not paying the individual mandate under any circumstances.

        • E. Olson says

          ND – the point of my history lesson was to demonstrate how the New Deal (and Hoover before) created policies that slowed down the “natural” market mechanisms for recovery that extended and exacerbated the Great Depression, and started the pattern of increasing government interference into the economy. Wickard grew grain on his own land and fed it to his own livestock, and hence never received any government assistance because the grain in question was never put on the market that the government was trying to control. The Wagner Act paved the way for higher wages for union members, which is the exact opposite of what should happen during an economic downturn, and hence only increased unemployment and bankruptcy.

          No jail with Obamacare? What if you decide not to buy a policy or pay the fine? Do they send the police to collect? What if you say no to the police? Do they just go back to the station and say “at least we tried” or do they jail the law breaker who doesn’t pay the fine? Ultimately, all government interference into private property and private behavior ends up with coercion and jail for those that don’t comply, and the more interference the more resistance and more coercion – its just the way socialism works.

          • Nicholas Decker says

            Dear Mr. Olson,
            Mr. Filburn did, in fact, sell wheat on the open market, and received the benefit of higher wheat prices. The wheat he grew in excess of the allotted amount was the part he used privately, but if every farmer was to be allowed to grow as much wheat as they wished, then the net effect would be harming themselves. Now whether or not the AAA is good policy is debatable (and quite possibly, it was unnecessary) but there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the government (or the people) demanding compliance with a fairly enacted law. As for the Wagner act, I would say that it was good policy, but bad timing. Such a law should have been enacted after the economy turns back up, so that the normal person is better off.

            I find it interesting to note, by the way, that the Great Depression ended only after the government increased aggregate demand massively to buy all the goods necessary to fight the war. Perhaps the fault in the New Deal is that it tried to reduce competition, instead of being purely a massive financial stimulus plan, which would have been more effective.

            Finally, you can’t go to jail for not paying the individual mandate. If you refuse to pay, then the IRS will simply remove it out of possible tax refunds. If you refuse to file taxes, well, then you might go to jail for tax evasion, but that path is both indirect and unlikely.

            Sincerely,
            Nicholas

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            Sorry but these ‘what would have happened’ things don’t work. All ideologues have the luxury of knowing that we can’t replay history, so they just tell themselves a nice just-so story of how everything would have worked out roses had they been in charge. As we both know, the commies never stop doing that — but for this or that the USSR would have been the worker’s paradise promised. If it wasn’t that’s always someone else’s fault, no? I don’t buy that kind of thing from either side. FDR doubtless make mistakes but I’m afraid that capitalism has to own the Great Depression exactly the same way that communism has to own the Ukraine famine. No weaseling out of it, please.

    • Tersitus says

      Just a thought bubble— if you control the schools and the guns, why would you need gulags and reeducation camps?

      • ga gamba says

        Two reasons. Firstly, naysayers may poison the well, so to speak. People speaking truth to power by complaining about the heavy handedness of tyranny, the ineffectiveness of the planners, and the inefficiency and corruption of the bureaucracy will lead to others doing so. Secondly, it instills fear in the population. “You think you have it bad? You want to give the gulag a crack?”

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Bubblecar is the tiny screw that keeps this place from flying into a million flaming pieces of shit under the relentless pounding of hypocrisy and simple-mindedness of every predictable word published here.

      Cherish him/her. You’ll miss Bubblecar when this place eventually suffocates inside the massive bubble it’s constructed for itself.

      • Defenstrator says

        Simple minded and predictable is what I can count on for your posts. So what does it mean when you are the thing you complain about in others?

    • Ray Andrews says

      @ Bubblecar

      I must agree. The lunatics on the left drive me to the right. The mad-dogs of the right send me screaming in terror back to the left. I would propose dropping all the hysteria and rediscovering efficient, pragmatic, people centered centrism. As I’m fond of saying, I do not want the waterworks here privatized, yet all the businesses around here are privately owned, and that’s just how it should be.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Bubblecar

      Hey Bubble, reading the comments below, I just scroll back up here to say hang tough, you’re being mobbed by people who should know better. We polite righties like to think of ourselves as the reasonable people and we like to decry the twitter mobs. Well then, we shouldn’t do it ourselves.

  5. ga gamba says

    It’s clear AOC et al failed to talk to general contractors. The 10-year target of retrofitting every building in the US as well as whatever x-year goal she has for constructing all those high-speed trains to replace air travel is a pie-in-the-sky dream – there are 5.6 million commercial buildings, hundreds of thousand of government buildings, and tens of millions of residences. Public works projects, such as rail networks and airports, are notorious for cost overruns and delays.

    California’s high-speed train ballooned from $33.6b to an estimated $98.1 billion, and the state’s governor recently announced a scale back. Boston’s Big Dig cost overrun was about 190%. The last major airport built in the US is Denver’s, finished 16 months behind schedule and was $2 billion (1995 dollars) over budget. BTW, if air travel is replaced what happens to all those to revenue bonds that can’t be repaid because the airports are no longer collecting fees from airlines and passengers? Will AOC’s GND pick that up too?

    Usually when an ambitious project or remarkable finding is announced, journalists interview unaffiliated subject matter experts such as scientists, engineers, economists, etc. to understand the significance as well as verify the claims. I can’t find anything of general contractors and engineers being interviewed to give their take on the Green New Deal’s viability. Has anyone seen such an analysis?

    Since the GND is tied to DIE goals, soon enough some feminist will shift her gaze off the boardroom and Silicon Valley, see that only 9% of construction workers in the US are women, and demand that it be at least 50:50 (if not more to to make up for “past exclusion”). Such an ambitious project is to be pounced upon by every interest group looking for its cut as well as its unique needs accommodated, and be assured all types of special interest set asides will be mandated.

    • Alan Gore says

      The problem with GND is not just that its claims were inflated, but that it was pitched by a political organization that despite its Rooseveltian ancestry is totally unable to build anything. In the same week it was announced, they gave up on the one train – just one – that they actually had under construction in California.

      It would be totally laudable if in light of the latest climate research Green New Deal could zero out our carbon emissions by a date certain. But Franklin Roosevelt, who built Hoover Dam and summoned nuclear energy into being, is not running GND. Ed Markey, who has a troubled relationship with science and who automatically comes out against any large-scale application of it, is.

    • Craig WIllms says

      @ga gamba
      No mention in this Green New Deal what all this construction and retrofitting etc etc will do to the environment.The cost overruns of these major projects in the modern age are often a result of delays caused by impact studies and resulting litigation (or the threat of litigation).

      Reading the Green New Deal is hilarious, or would be if we knew no one was taking it seriously. Unfortunately people of the West still have romantic notions of the false promise of socialism, therefore no matter what some of the commentators on this forum dismiss as small-minded paranoia we are wise to heed it. True socialism is the death of West.

      • E. Olson says

        GG and CW – very good comments. Environmental impact studies alone will take more than 10 years. Some rare toad or snail living in the path of the high speed rail or solar panel farm will keep each of those projects in the courts for years before the first shovel of dirt gets dug. Even the “great” Obama once said: “there are no such thing has shovel ready projects”.

    • Jay Salhi says

      ” The 10-year target of retrofitting every building in the US as well as whatever x-year goal she has for constructing all those high-speed trains to replace air travel is a pie-in-the-sky dream – there are 5.6 million commercial buildings, hundreds of thousand of government buildings, and tens of millions of residences. ”

      Retrofitting buildings is a time consuming, expensive task and if not done correctly can endanger the structural integrity of the building. And even if we had a magic wand that made all those obstacles go away, you cannot complete the task without fossil fuels. No fossil fuels means no steal, no cement and no building supplies. Even if you have a second magic wand to wave those materials into existence, you still need diesel powered trucks to transport them around the country.

      The modern, industrial economy runs on fossil fuels and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that.

      • ga gamba says

        All above, good comments.

        AOC would have been more honest, and her GND more credible, had she simply said “We’ll accomplish all this by saying ‘hocus pocus’.”

        People would’ve saved themselves the time and effort – and natural resources – analysing it.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @ga gamba

      To bore you with a bit of history from beautiful BC where I live: For decades the place was ruled by an autocrat named Bennett who subscribed to a free-market fundamentalist sect called ‘Social Credit’. But he built all our hydro dams on time and on budget as publicly owned utilities with public money. Cash. Yes, government run projects can become disasters, but it does not have to be that way and often isn’t. If memory serves the public works projects of the 30’s were also mostly finished on time and on budget.

      • As a fellow BC resident I feel it must be said that was a long time ago. The current government can’t even get a natural gas pipeline approved, let alone built.

  6. Screw the Ruling Class says

    A problem that won’t go away is that major infrastructure change takes a long time and a lot of money to fully implement. It always has. Figure a minimum 40 year cycle. We can build fast new railroads–just not quickly and just not cheaply. We can put windmills on every hill, just not next week and just not for free. We can retrofit everything — by 2060 at the earliest and for a hefty chunk of GDP.

    If the Climate Crisis could be fixed in 10 years, it wouldn’t be a crisis to start with, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez not withstanding.

    • Tersitus says

      80 years ago we built a national war machine and won a world war in 4 years, then oversaw the rebuilding of a dozen nations, including our own— Now we spend years bumbling a simple pipeline, decades patchworking a simple wall, and God knows how long not-building a railroad, all while we go deeper and deeper into debt and dysfunctional nonsense. What the hell happened to American Pragmatism? What the hell happened to us?
      Thank God we found AOC, Ed the Red, Kirsten Jellibrain, and the new collective Women in White to teach us how to make America great again. Now we can all just roll up our knaprugs, line up, keep our hands and loose thoughts to ourselves, and march lockstep to the Newamerican playground. Hallelujah. Pass the crayons.

      • Nicholas Decker says

        Could we kindly not name call? It demeans the debate without addressing the substance of what you disagree.

        • Tersitus says

          My apologies, ND— sometimes my poor wit overruns my better judgment. But seriously, One minute of listening to Gillibrand invites the comparison. I’ll try and rein in both the ad hominem and the ad mulierem, and sober up my sobriquets.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        I don’t understand. You’re complaining that Americans aren’t pragmatic and haven’t been in many decades, and you’re blaming this on events that only happened within the last few years? And you’re also complaining that a massive and ambitious plan to address climate change isn’t… what? Pragmatic enough for you? Ambitious enough? Do you want Americans to do big things or don’t you? What have you been doing all these decades to fix all these problems you see? Apparently nothing, but you get all butthurt when women try and do something?

        Pass the crayons indeed. You built the playground – own it.

        • Tersitus says

          NP — was I really complaining? Certainly I was mocking, for which I’ve already offered a half-sincere apology above. Rereading, I think I was pointing out the painfully obvious— every word with us has become a political act (is it a wall or a barrier? Is it racist or not?) every act a cause for battle (was he smirking or blocking or just standing?) The relatively simple and agreed upon in public policy has become nearly impossible. The things we could and should do easily, we again and again don’t. We win the wars, and can’t manage to stick around for the hard part— winning the peace. I don’t care whether you call it a failure of pragmatism or ambition or politics or what, it’s a growing pattern of failure. So let’s first start showing we can manage the simple in the way of planning and doing before we decide to upend our entire social and economic infrastructure for a socialist utopian dream that history shows us hasn’t worked out very well for hundreds of millions of people not much different from us.
          And to your final point, not much, I guess, unless you count spending years and years teaching and counseling at-risk inner city kids, black, white, Hispanic, gangbangers and goths and nerdballs, babymommas and baby daddys, male, female, gay, straight, whatever, every working day all day and more. Not to mention all the out of school activities, the jail visits and courtroom sessions and weddings and funerals. But then, I did take their crayons and give them a few thousand pencils and pens.
          Nor did it make my butt hurt to see my wife making 2-3 times my take home spending everyday treating terminal cancer patients… her commitment, her compassion, and her skill earned her every penny of it. No doubt she could teach us both something about hard choices and pragmatic courses of action.
          As for the women in white, about time they had their own uniforms— every man in the room had his dark suit on.

          • Tersitus says

            Just let me add this to that last while I’m in full careen. They made a wonderful contrast in color and tone, those Women in White, a chorus to the drama and its protagonist. On the whole, it was an exciting addition to the State affair. Political theatre on the high stage, Woman contra Trump, with a whiff of Hamilton v. Burr.
            But having struck the pose, can they carry off the parts? The recycled patchwork script doesn’t hold much promise, but lots of players are lining up and reading their lines anyway: Swarm the Orange Dragon, brandishing magic swords, slaying capitalist monsters and traitorous Amazonians and evil deniers along the way, winning the beautiful but dolorous damsel in distress.
            Meanwhile, the Green Deal awaits the ripening, the production company awaits the subscribers, and their checks clearing. And dragonslaying— in practice it turns out to be a lot more like arguing over how to milk the capitalist donkey without getting kicked, turn gun factories iinto butter farms, and prove Trump stole the cream.
            Can it grow jobs faster than it kills them? Can it grow wealth and joie de vivre at scale or is it just a nation-sized game of table stakes poker that will soon start shedding disillusioned losers hour by hour, like Venezuela. Will it play in Kokomo? Harlem? Vegas? Broward county? For how long? How much carrot and how much stick makes the donkey trot instead of kick? Careful with that axe , Eugene….

            Want some pragmatic advice? (1) Scale back the fanciful, the exaggerated, the romantic “alternative”and “renewable” and give more thought to cost/ benefit and power output per unit, widen your calculations to include “$ and power cost in” measurements per power unit produced. We are, after all, talking about the real world. At least I am (I hope). The laws of physics still apply, I think— basic economics too— unless we’ve transcended those now. (2). Think more in the near term. Think bridge fuels — say, as something akin to the socialist transition period before the communist heaven and the blessed withering away of the state, if you have to have an ideologic rationale. Natural gas may be unPC, but it’s cleaner relative to most, abundant, cheap, power per unit intensive, and flowing to excess as I write. Repurposed internal combustion engine technologies already advanced and proven, recycled waste-to-gas technologies the same. Think of it as advancing the ball and buying time. Quit letting the ideological purists among us continue to make the perfect the enemy of the good. (3) Nuclear. Shhhhhhhhh. Don’t ….. say….. that ….. too….. loud. But Talk About Energy. …..Give a serious look at the feasibility of newer form reactors and fuels,smaller, safer— cheaper? (4) Solar— a massive energy source spending itself whether we will or nae— whatever its role in our energy future, I venture to say it doesn’t lie in converting tens of thousands of square miles on every continent to vast fields of industrially produced and grid wired monotonously greybrown panels shielding the earth beneath where the sun never shines. Someone please rethink that.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Tersitus

        ” What the hell happened to American Pragmatism? What the hell happened to us?”

        Yes, what did? Now if you want cutting edge technological competence you go to China.

          • Tersitus says

            China, where the leaders are racing to turn water to wine and steal to gold before the ghost cities turn into gulags.

  7. This piece is a trainwreck of inside-the-bubble right-wing thinking, which evokes the gulag and forced sterilization in the same breath as Bernie Sanders and AOC. This is the definition of partisan hysteria beyond all measure.

    “I know AOC because I was AOC. My father died at 41 and my widowed mother raised four young kids on a civil-service salary. We weren’t well off. I too bristled at the wealth of others or enjoyed the schadenfreude of watching an expensive car being dragged onto a flatbed. But as I came to understand the ingenious and careful ways wealth can be created, I outgrew my envy.”

    The fact that the author characterizes his attitude toward wealth and poverty as driven fundamentally by envy, and then projects it onto AOC, is odd and shows that conservatives fundamentally aren’t trying to understand the left whatsoever.

    If you thought this article had anything of substance to say, you might try this one next: https://quillette.com/2018/12/26/democratic-socialism-or-social-democracy/

    • JWatts says

      “This piece is a trainwreck of inside-the-bubble right-wing thinking”

      You aren’t making a substantive criticism. The GND is just as socialist as anything Venezuela started 12 years ago. Venezuela today is a mass of starving and oppressed people. You can’t just pretend that socialist ideas of this grand scope aren’t similar to the socialist ideas of Chavismo. Chavismo was enacted in 2007 in an oil affluent middle income country. The country is a basket case.

      Your argument is essentially handwaving.

      • Nicholas Decker says

        Dear Watts,
        I disagree with your equation of the green new deal with venezuelan “socialism”. Mr. Chavez was focused on short term welfare in order to buy support, paid for by high oil prices, so when the prices tanked, they found themselves, having not invested in infrastructure and being plagued by corruption, in deep trouble, whereas, in the GND, it is not funding temporary programs off a temporary boom, but rather trying to invest in new infrastructure for America.

        While I do think the GND as currently written is an aspirational list of poorly thought out dreams, we are going to have to do a lot, and soon, as the recent UN climate reports indicate we must.

        Also, to Mr. Blum, to describe the article as having no substance at all is unfair. It is a truly felt worry, which, though we may disagree as to the effect of modern American democratic socialists, we must remember what happens if government grows consolidated and unchecked.

        • Jay Salhi says

          “While I do think the GND as currently written is an aspirational list of poorly thought out dreams, we are going to have to do a lot, and soon, as the recent UN climate reports indicate we must.”

          No energy policy that bans nuclear and relies heavily on wind and solar will ever work. Wind and solar are useless without a reliable backup source. Ban nuclear and you are left with fossil fuels or hydro (which has severe geographic limitations and is hated by the greens almost as much as nuclear).

          Existing technology offers limited options to reducing CO2 admissions and the best option we have (nuclear) is despised by the activists. Nuclear is a partial solution for electricity generation. There is no carbon free liquid fuel option.

          The GND is not merely poorly thought out, even if we had a magic wand to pay for all the stuff the energy portion of it would be a complete disaster without reducing CO2 admissions.

          On top of that, bad energy policy is a recipe for economic catasrophe.

          • Nicholas Decker says

            Dear Mr. Salhi,
            I disagree with your description that “No energy policy that bans nuclear and relies heavily on wind and solar will ever work. ” It would be accurate to say that it would not work now, but ever makes unsubstantiated presumptions.

            However, in the short term, our energy policy needs to look at all ways of reducing our current emissions, which includes investing in renewable energies; removing CO2 from fossil fuel emissions in power plants; making electric cars cheaper and more efficient, so that they can be powered off of a cleaner grid; subsidize solar panels in sunny areas and connect it so they share their power with everyone else when they do not have need of it; subsidizing the building of houses with geothermal heating and cooling; and various other sundry ways we can make our self more efficient.

            I agree that the GND is a poorly done draft. That does not change the fact that we’ve got to do something now.

            Sincerely,
            Nicholas

            P.S. I agree wholeheartedly that quillette needs an edit option.

        • Craig WIllms says

          @Nicholas Decker
          You got me at UN Climate Reports… How long must we be subject to this propaganda portrayed as gospel? They have been wrong and worse since the data has been manipulated or unsubstantiated/unrealized for 2 decades now.

          Since the burden of remediation always falls to the West why should it be taken seriously at all. It’s a matter of honesty – if it is a global problem allowing the two most populous nations off the hook sends the unmistakable message that this charade is designed to hobble the West.

          • Jay Salhi says

            @Nicholas Decker

            You admit that heavy reliance on wind and solar will not work now yet you go on to say we should invest in renewables now. You see no contradiction?

            The only thing that would change the equation is a revolutionary development in storage technology. No such technology exists nor is it on the horizon. Without storage, wind and solar are just redundant technologies that do not materially reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

            You also seem to confuse rooftop solar with large scale solar “farms’. Rooftop solar is fine where it makes sense but the output you get is insignificant. And the schemes whereby homeowners sell power back to the grid rely on government mandates that the utility companies buy the power at inflated prices (retail rather than wholesale). They often cause more headaches for the grid operators. Such schemes tend to collapse when states remove the mandatory buyback at inflated price requirements. These are subsidies to affluent people, they are not CO2 reducing solutions.

            “making electric cars cheaper and more efficient”

            Are you advocating increasing subsidies? Otherwise, the best way to make them cheaper is to use smaller batteries (the opposite of what Tesla does). Such vehicles have a place but it is a niche market and social engineering will not materially change that. Batteries are not a good means of storing energy. They are heavy, deplete even when not in use and do not perform well in the cold. At 20 degrees F with the heater on, an EV ‘s battery depletes 40% faster than normal. That is a handicap that will plague EVs unless there is some revolutionary technology advancement.

          • S Snell says

            Even if you accept that there is a climate crisis–I do not for reasons far too numerous to list here–you simply cannot power an advanced industrial society with intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar, whose minor virtues are oversold as their substantial flaws are largely ignored.

            Those who push wind and solar consistently miss a crucial point: There is only so much energy per square meter of catchment area. And wind and solar need a LOT of catchment. To replace even a small conventional power plant, occupying a few acres, with equivalent wind or solar would require the commitment of many, many times that amount of land, which then cannot be used for other purpose.To meet this nation’s energy requirements with wind and solar would require millions upon millions of acres of wind farms and solar arrays and battery backups. Not to mention the complete retooling of the electrical grid from top to bottom.

            GND trades an efficient, cost-effective, well-vetted system with an intermittent, unreliable inefficient, hugely expensive one. Is our current system perfect? Of course not. But the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Furthermore, we will always need hydrocarbons to fuel heavy-duty transport and aircraft, and to synthesize the modern materials that our advanced society is built upon.

            Solar and wind energy may be “free” but the technology to extract them most definitely is not. And the energy thus produced is expensive. Just ask Australia, which once enjoyed literally the cheapest electricity on the planet, but now endures the costliest, thanks to national quotas requiring that a certain percentage of its electricity come from renewable sources.

            To push GND forward would be to commit economic suicide. On the plus side, though, the global temperature would theoretically drop by a few thousandths of a degrees C. Sounds fair to me!

        • And you don’t think “a living wage for those unwilling to work” isn’t a focus on short term welfare in order to buy support? It’s the campaigning we saw for student council president in H.S. where candidates would campaign on no-class-on-Fridays or free sodas in the senior lounge — stuff they couldn’t deliver or afford or had authority to provide, but it got the lemmings to vote for them.

        • “Mr. Chavez was focused on short term welfare in order to buy support, paid for by high oil prices”

          The GND is focused on the short term (despite claiming to be about the long term) in order to try to buy political support, paid for by Magic Money Theory.

          Sorry, “Modern” Monetary Theory, where apparently we can just print more and more money to pay the bills and inflation won’t run rampant because . . . the government will create new banking and financial institutions that won’t let inflation go bonkers. Because science, and don’t argue against it or else it proves that you are anti-science and your uneducated ignorant voice must be silenced for the greater good in the name of equality.

    • Craig WIllms says

      @Alexander J Blum
      We understand the left just fine. We just reject it, and Bernie and AOC…

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > that conservatives fundamentally aren’t trying to understand the left whatsoever.

      We understand that your dimwitted and homicidal economic fantasies have destroyed every country to which they have been applied, and have produced a pile of over 100 million murder victims along the way.

      • Tersitus says

        Seems to me the mass of those who misunderstand the left are still on it. It’s pretty much a sine qua non.

          • Tersitus says

            Thanks, Peter— flattery will get you a riposte. Most who really understand the left stayed a bit too long on it.

  8. Fred LaSor says

    Bubblecar:

    “But then I see you’re not talking about moderate democratic socialist proposals at all,”

    Let’s see, would that be free college for everyone? Or a guaranteed income for people who don’t want to work?

    AOC tries to deflect valid criticisms of her GND by calling it “aspirational.” A senior advisor claims the GND was a Republican hack of her web site.

    Maybe the reason no one is talking about the moderate democratic socialist proposals is that there’s no there there.

    • “Maybe the reason no one is talking about the moderate democratic socialist proposals is that there’s no there there.”

      ^This.

      From someone who was considered fairly liberal and progressive as recently as a decade ago, but now is apparently an alt-right ignorant inherently racist sexist anti-gay subhuman for not giving a crapola about gender, sexuality, or skin color (but rather the content of one’s character).

  9. Winston Smith says

    Was FDR’s New Deal a disaster for this country? Did it turn the US into a totalitarian soviet-style dystopia? Did it create gulags? The answers are no, no, and no. Why then is the prospect of a new “green” iteration of the New Deal being heralded by conservatives as the apocalypse?

    • david of Kirkland says

      Well, it did create a broken social security system that has raised rates many times while also adding to the number of years before you can collect. It did create a medical system that is mostly funded by government payers and thus no longer serves the patient as the client/customer; which also prohibits free markets for medicine and medical services, so we have higher prices for the same stuff than other places. And it resulted in a military industrial society that wars daily in many nations despite zero declarations of war and zero countries attacking us. It has created public schools where students now shoot each other and are declared anxious and depressed and are thus drugged into compliance. Special interests rule the common good. Other than that…

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        What? I think you forgot to mention that the New Deal killed the Easter bunny and stole your lunch money. Wow. You are crazy if you really believe any of that nonsense.

        Your first reason is solid gold. You’re complaining that SS is bad because you have to wait longer to receive it? Is that your version of “the government better keep their hands off my Medicare”?

        Oh, and blaming FDR for public school problems that appeared 50+ years after his death is another winner.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @david of Kirkland

        But the immediate follow on from the New Deal was the most prosperous time the country (or the world) had ever seen. I’d agree that things started going down hill in the 60’s when the Correct started their Long March. We can always rewind history as far as we like, but should we not try to be fair?

    • Jay Salhi says

      @ Winston Smith

      The New Deal was conceived at a time of chronically high unemployment (over 20%) and its stated goal was full employment. In that regard it failed, although other aspects of it can be considered successes (for example, creating the SEC and putting rural America on the power grid).

      The economy is currently operating at near full employment. The economic circumstances are not comparable with the Depression era.

      New Deal is just a marketing term. The GND proposes to take an economy powered by cheap, reliable and abundant energy and transform it (within a decade) into an economy run by unreliable, expensive, intermittent energy. Banning fossil fuels and nuclear within such a time frame is technologically impossible without a reversion to 19th century living standards. It would make Mao’s Great Leap Forward look like a picnic. An apocalypse is not an exaggeration.

      Of course, things will never get that far (the public would rebel before it got close). But we can waste a lot of time and a lot of money and do a lot of damage to the economy (without reducing CO2 emissions) if we take AOC and Markey seriously.

      • Tersitus says

        Jay’s right– the term, and its new Green iteration, were (are) marketing ploys–still, the more detailed view Olson offers above gets nearer the truth– the New Deal was a massive mixed bag of programs and half-baked ideas, some on balance clearly good, some not so, with short and long term consequences, intended and unintended, obvious and hidden, economic, political, social. Individually and collectively, we’ve benefited from many of them–but Olson’s paragraph on the price paid only scratches the surface. And we’ve done a dirt-poor job of downstream course correction and basic maintenance, repair, and replacement.
        As for the Green Dream, it’ll take a lot more lipstick to sell that pig at market.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Tersitus

          Some here are prepared to be reasonable, thanks.

  10. Doctor Locketopus says

    > Was FDR’s New Deal a disaster for this country?

    No, but it prolonged the Depression by several years. It would have been far worse if the Supreme Court hadn’t reined in many of FDR’s more outrageous fascist/communist proposals.

    > Why then is the prospect of a new “green” iteration of the New Deal being heralded by conservatives as the apocalypse?

    Because the “Green New Deal” has about as much in common with the “New Deal” as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” has in common with democratic or republican forms of government, “Pravda” had with truth, or “diversity” has in common with toleration of different points of view.

    • DeplorableDude says

      Locketopus speaks the truth. What should have been 2 to 3 years of bad recession turned into a decade of depression. Turns out you can’t make things better by printing money and spending on stuff.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      It did not prolong the great depression. That’s a lie told by people who can’t reconcile facts with their politics. The New Deal was tapered back in the late 1930’s, which caused the economy to falter. That tapering is what people are referring to when they say that the New Deal prolonged the depression, which is a lie. Once FDR’s policy was reasserted things began to improve until the war came along.

      All this information is freely available. I’m not sure why anybody would deliberately be so misinformed.

      • Tersitus says

        Too simple, NakatomiP. If you pose it as a question— Did the New Deal prolong the Great Depression? — you can pose the answer as a yes or no, and give the appearance of fact (or truth or lie). But it’s much too large and complex a matter, which is why historians and economists continue to debate it. Not to mention, the debate is in part a counter factual one— we know the New Deal didn’t end the Depression, we don’t know if it prolonged it.

  11. aaron says

    My fear originates from the fact that when I question advocates for AOC, Sanders, or the green new deal about socialism; most do not differentiate between social programs and a command economy.

  12. Sydney says

    Germaine Greer was decades ahead on how “transgender females” (natal males) would swallow womanhood and femaleness.

  13. Jim p says

    Too many five dollar words in this essay. Wow the author must be really smart!

  14. david of Kirkland says

    Everyone likes a freebie; nobody likes their money taken by government. So the struggle continues where we provide “services” using debt for the future to deal with.

  15. I’m opposed to socialism.

    I prefer Scandinavian style capitalism.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Scandinavian capitalism works well in small countries of little global importance with a lot of resources and a monoglot culture. It couldn’t work in a country with a large population, like the US.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Why? Your three criteria seem bizarre and completely made-up.

        It couldn’t work because you don’t happen to want it, you mean. Your three bullshit criteria could be any three random nouns given that your real agenda is ideological rather than rational.

      • Tersitus says

        Peter— you might (if you haven’t already) check out Johan Norberg’s Sweden: Lessons for America? A Personal Exploration. It’s a look beneath the stereotype of Scandanavian socialism.

    • Jay Salhi says

      Are you willing to tax the hell out of the middle class and the working class like the Scandaavians do? 25% consumption tax is cool with you?

      If so, fine. Your preference is an informed one. Most of the people expressing such preferences have no clue what they are actually advocating. The American middle class will never support the level of taxation it would take (on them) to create Nordic-level social welfare states. The moment they realize they will be the ones supporting the bill, support will crumble. Which is why Bernie and the other socialist fools never discuss numbers.

  16. Nate D. says

    The GND is a publicity stunt. It’s a garbage pipedream and even the Dems know it.
    1) It creates far more problems than it solves.
    2) It’s being pushed by a freshman congresswoman who isn’t even respected by her own party (did you see Pelosi’s response to the GND?). AOC simply the Dem’s equalizer for Trump – a circus show that gets in the headlines enough to create brand awareness.
    3) The Dem’s won’t allow the GND onto the floor because they know it will fail spectacularly, creating a colossal sucking sound that will trip car alarms and shatter all the windows within a 5 mile radius.
    The purpose of the GND is to get the left’s voting constituents excited about the prospects of “free/green everything for everybody” so that they will line up to vote against their local republican in the next election.
    It might also be a “foot in the door” persuasive technique for lesser socialist legislation that they’ll test flight later. Either way, as a piece of legislation it isn’t meant to be taken serious. As a political tactic however, it’s a slick move and we ignore it at our peril.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      The mainstream left (Pelosi) do not like AOC. They hate her guts for the threat she represents to them. You really ought to know this. Not understanding AOC’s standing in her own party makes you look like an idiot. The LAST thing AOC wants is approval of the corporate left; that approval means that she’s either sold out or been co-opted.

      Your simplistic model of left/right is failing you miserably. Trump and Pelosi are two sides of the same coin, and the GND threatens to put a lot of people on record for failing to do anything about climate change and choosing their corporate sponsors over their constituents. None of them want this, even if a majority of Americans do.

      You’ve allowed the exact same system you probably despise to turn you into a useful idiot.

      • Nate D. says

        @ Nakatomi Plaza

        Rather than projecting, how about you deal with the main thrust of my comment. Is the GND a legitimate piece of legislation, or is it a pipedream publicity stunt being used by Dems to swing (naive) voters? Mainline Dems see AOC as a threat, but for now, she’s serving a purpose. Their leaving her on a long leash. Whether she’ll eventually sell out, or get off that leash and completely and revolutionize the Dems (or and independent party) is an argument for another day.

        The majority of Americans want the GND? Can I get a source for that statement? If so, I’d like to read it. If not, you may want to slow down handing out the “useful idiot” label. You’ll be needing it for yourself.

        • Even the Dems say it isn’t a legitimate piece of legislation when they charge the Senate Republicans with “theater” for bring it up for a vote. If it were legit then they would be HAPPY that the Senate Majority Leader is bringing up for vote a Dem sponsored bill that could easily be shelved to collect dust until the Dems hold the majority again.

  17. Lightning Rose says

    The GND is no more likely to become reality than a feminist utopia where the women all dress in togas, drive chariots and mete out instant justice with golden crossbows–because, ye cannae change the laws o’ physics, saith Scotty. It’s a non-starter. Imaginary cure for a non-problem.
    Believe cows and trucks are changing the weather, I’ll sell you Gwyneth Paltrow’s jade eggs.
    That’s the level factual “science” education has sunk to in the Western world. But FEELZ!!!

    The idiocy of those hitching their wagons (er, chariots) to this fantasy proves the author’s premise, that any “cause” or “movement” will do if it makes one appear high-minded. For the Left, it’s all about the virtue-signaling. Because Eeeeevilllll Donald Trump!

    Ask one of them what IS so eeee-villlll, really, about DJT, and they can’t articulate much beyond a personality-based, visceral revulsion. Remind them that the country is (basically) at peace, the international scene is (mostly) fairly quiet, the economy is ROARING in ways the last admin. thought impossible, enabling economic opportunity for many heretofore disadvantaged groups and demographics. Exactly WHAT is the problem here that requires a “revolution,” ladies & Bern?

    No one’s lost their “rights.” Heck, some places you’ve got a new one–infanticide. No one’s lost the right to vote; it seems some places, even illegal aliens can now vote! Everyone has access to “health care.” Fall down in the street if you don’t believe me and see what happens. The final frontier of Rainbow Unicorns have become a privileged class on the level of sacred cows along with “people of” any “color” but white. Diss ’em on Twitter and watch your life go up in flames!

    So WHAT is the “problem” with Trump again, guys? I’m listening . . .

  18. Nicholas Decker says

    Dear Lightning Rose,
    I will attempt to address to all of your points, so please, pardon me if I jump without flow or rhythm. Firstly, the GND will not become law as it is written now, and neither will the substance of much of it will be made law either (that is, with the accompany law and paperwork and specifics needed.) The GND is an aspirational document primarily, of what in a perfect world they would get done about our present climate crisis.

    However, it is absurd and wrong to dismiss the fact that the earth is indeed heating up, and that it is due primarily to human action. The average temperature of the earth has been sharply over the past hundred years, as shown by the graph linked below. In addition, carbon dioxide is an insulative gas, that retains heat on the earth more than a regular atmosphere. Owing to human activity, carbon dioxide emissions have vastly increased as well over the past 100+ years, as shown by the graphic linked below the first link. Knowing these three facts, does it not stand to reason that it is human activity that causing a rise in temperatures, and that we can, (indeed, we must!) do something reduce our carbon emissions before it destroys us?

    In the third paragraph, you ask, “…What is so evil” -I’m sorry, that is misquoting you- “What IS so eeee-villlll, really, about DJT…” and then note how many can’t articulate why they hate him. Well, why don’t you ask me? I hate Donald Trump because of his corruption and self dealing, such as when the trump campaign pays his businesses using donor’s money, which is nothing short of theft. I hate his appointment of corrupt secretaries, such as Pruitt or Zinke, who aggrandize themselves from the public. I hate that he is the kind of person who would boast about groping women. I hate how he belittles and abuses racial minorities; suggesting that a judge would be unable to do his job purely because of his mexican ancestry; preferring white norwegians over people from “shithole” countries like Haiti; I hate how he promoted and promoted the fundamentally racist idea that Obama wasn’t even a real American, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. I hate that he would suggest jailing his political opposition, or refusing to accept the election, undermining our precious of a peaceful transfer of power. Worst of all, to me at least, is how much he lies, all the damn time. He lies without regard to the truth. When facts don’t suit him, he just makes stuff up. He has lied to our friends, he has lied to his base, he has lied to the country; he has lied to the whole world. He’s just a common con man, moving from failure to failure in his public and private life, blaming it on some nebulous other, and stiffing the common man. That is why I hate him.

    Heck, that isn’t even all the reasons I detest him, but the most of the others are policy, and that is far more subjective.

    One last note- the trouble with healthcare in America is not that emergency healthcare, the stuff you might call an ambulance for, is lacking. While it may be financially ruinous to a poor person to have a heart attack, they will receive care for that. The trouble is preventative care is more expensive than it should be, because it is cheaper to solve the problem early, rather than wait for it to be life threatening.

    That’s pretty much all I got to say now, so, do respond if you can.

    Sincerely,
    Nicholas Decker

    https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2017/04/Global-CO2-emissions-by-region-since-1751.png

    • Jay Salhi says

      @Nicholas Decker
      “The average temperature of the earth has been sharply over the past hundred years, as shown by the graph linked below.”

      Approximately 1 degree C since the late 19th century. Is that a “sharp” increase?

      Your graph shows an increase of over .6 degrees C between about 1910 and 1945. Was that caused by fossil fuel consumption?

      From 1945 until the late 1970s, there was a cooling period (causing some scientists to fear a new Ice Age). How do you explain that in light of sharp increases in fossil fuel consumption during this same period?

      There hasn’t been much increase since the last 1990s except for one year anomaly circa 2015, which many climate scientists attribute to el nino. Can you explain that?

      Finally, can you provide answers to the following questions:

      (i) What percentage of the 1 degree C increase was caused by humans and what percentage is attributable to natural climate variation.

      (ii) With regard to the climate change caused by humans, what percentage of it is attributable to fossil fuels and what percentage is attributable to other human activity such as land use?

      I don’t dispute that climate change is happening or that CO2 is a factor. But that doesn’t mean the alarmist narrative is accurate. And certainly not AOC’s 12 year doomsday prediction, which is pure fiction (not unlike the previous failed predictions made by Al Gore and others)

      “Knowing these three facts, does it not stand to reason that it is human activity that causing a rise in temperatures, and that we can, (indeed, we must!) do something reduce our carbon emissions before it destroys us?.”

      1. What is the basis for your assumption that warming will destroy us? Is it impossible for human beings to adapt to a warmer climate?

      2. What can we do to reduce carbon emissions? Fossil fuels provide over 80 percent of the world’s energy and consumption in other parts of the world will rapidly increase in the future. China emits more carbon than the US and the EU combined. Should we invade China and destroy their coal plants? Should we tell India and Africa and they have no right to the same energy sources we used to grow rich? She we hold people alive today in perpetual poverty for the hypothetical benefit of people born 100 years from now?

      3. The GND proposes to ban fossil fuels and nuclear within 10 years. That is indeed doing something, doing something colossally stupid! Do you have a better plan? Specifically:

      (i) What are the carbon free options to fossil fuels?
      (ii) If you say wind and solar, where will your back up source of energy come from?

      (iii) Are you aware that wind and solar are not green and are entirely reliant on fossil fuels from cradle to grave?

      (iv) Electricity production is only part of the equation, what are the carbon free alternatives to liquid fossil fuels that power transportation and agriculture?

    • Lightning Rose says

      As Jay below has answered the climate “crisis” (note another recent rebranding!) questions admirably, I’ll address the “preventive health care” statement. I challenge you to show me what is actually accomplished by “preventive” or “primary” care, aka the new cranked-lower pharma-influenced metrics designed to categorize nearly everyone as “ill,” and therefore customers for pills; mediated by hi-tech testing that creates inordinate bills to demonstrate the obvious; and “treatment” for things like “pre” hypertension, “pre” diabetes, and arbitrary “obesity,” which are either the direct sequelae of the shitty, unnatural diet (all carbs!) they’ve been exhorting us to eat for 50 years OR natural consequences of normal aging. Is anyone becoming “healthier” because of these interventions? Yes, the “worried well” of the upper middle white executive class fret over their herd-medicine “numbers” and their fitbits around the water cooler, meanwhile . . .

      The elephant in the room that is NEVER discussed is that “health” and longevity outcomes are 100% tied to SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS. Meaning, if you’re born to a single mother, live in a poor neighborhood ridden with crime, pollution, garbage, rats, lead in both the paint and flying throught the air from your neighbors’ pistols, eating nutrition-free crap from bodegas while smoking, drinking and taking illicit drugs, your “outcome” is going to really suck. The people who need the help with “lifestyle” never get it because their problems are endemic to their situation, while “health” journalists obsess over micro-minutiae of “risk factor” interventions that ~might~ give some rich dude an extra 4 days in the hospice at life’s end.

      A whole bunch of you might flush your pills TODAY if you find out that most early insulin resistance is self-curable by eliminating sugar and refined and processed foods; that BP pills show evidence-based merit only for the highest quintile of hypertensives; or that cancer “screening” for the asymptomatic, while a major cash cow, has documented negative consequences of over-diagnosis and over-treatment which does more harm than good. Furthermore, there is actually NO “evidence” of benefit for a lot of things doctors routinely do: Yearly physicals, pelvic exams, most statins, back surgeries, osteoporosis testing and pills, physical therapy, many PAP smears, the list is quite long. Check out the books of Dr. Nortin M. Hadler and Gilbert Welch and others of their brave colleagues if you don’t believe me!

      “Health” care has nothing to do with “health,” because if you’re not suffering disease, by definition you do not require medical intervention. It has instead become “Disease Maintenance Care.” If we were to ask why nearly EVERYONE is suddenly “diseased,” the answer is a mixture of moving the goalposts with intent to profit; wholesale disregard of evolutionary biology; and medicine as belief system and cultural construct in lieu of concrete scientific evidence. The system could be cleaned out with a fire hose tomorrow, but no one has the will to do it.

  19. TheSnark says

    The GND is the classic case of offering the voters a wonderful wish-list of benefits — free college! free daycare! guaranteed income! green everything! — and promising that somebody else will pay for it (“the rich”). This puts them in the same boat as the Republicans, who claim that their tax cuts will be paid for by a “growing economy”.

    Today’s “Progressives” are little more than a left-wing version of the Trump crowd. They use social media to throw red meat (or in their case, organic kale) to their base, belittle their opponents, are oblivious to inconvenient side effects, and don’t worry about how to pay for it all. With the erosion of our institutions under successive administrations, and especially under Trump, the odds of ending up in a Venezuela scenario are higher than I like.

  20. Tersitus says

    Thanks, Snark, for a most apt equation of the Progs and “the Trump crowd” (among which I stand). With respect to your concluding sentence– I’ve long and often described us as “a nation of failed and failing institutions,” and for nearly two decades watched with fascination the utterly predictable and accelerating trainwreck in Venezuela. Our own spasmodic drift in that direction troubles me, too. I take exception only to your claim that those institutions have eroded “especially under Trump.” You’ll have to make that case with more particulars and a compelling argument before I buy it.

  21. Ray Andrews says

    I’m disappointed in my right-wing friends that they show the same sort of partisan hysteria here that one might hope would be restricted to the twiterii. I don’t think the USA is headed for the gulag even if the GND probably isn’t a workable idea.

    • Tersitus says

      History tells us the future has a curious way of being unforeseen till it’s past. The Germans of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s were the most highly educated people in the world. The Venezuelans and the Zimbabweans within my lifetime lived in the wealthiest nations on their respective continents. Per my grandma’s version of the law of unintended consequences, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Tersitus

        All very true. But caricaturing one’s opponents is just plain dishonest.

        • Tersitus says

          Not sure to what or which you are referring, Ray, but not all caricatures are dishonest, and some, in addition to being funny, are downright telling. I for one mourn our diminished capacity to both tell and take a joke. Long live the children of Aristophanes.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Tersitus

            I find that the left is being caricatured here very badly. AOC and Bernie S. are very different people. True tho, a caricature can serve as a sort of reducto ad absurdum which can be a useful device as well as being funny, which should never hurt. We should always be aware of various slippery slopes and it is true that socialism can slip into Maoism. We should be vigilant but not panic.

    • Jay Salhi says

      @Rat Andrews

      “I don’t think the USA is headed for the gulag even if the GND probably isn’t a workable idea.”

      Only because things will never get that far. The public will rebel once the negative effects kick in and they will never get further than taking baby steps. But baby steps can do a lot of damage.

      Nothing good is going to come from hostility to reliable energy.

  22. Psmith says

    Before every building is replaced, will not all the construction equipment need to be replaced with electricity-based machines? And where does the electricity come from? The coal-fired plants will need to be replaced with solar farms or windmills.

    • Jay Salhi says

      @Psmith

      You correctly highlight the contradiction. The solar “farms” and wind “farms” (they are industrial facilities, not American Gothic) require a reliable source of back up energy. Get rid of nuclear and fossil fuels (as the GND requires) and there is no backup. So you dramatically increase the demand for electricity while dramatically decreasing the availability of reliable electricity.

  23. Tersitus says

    As for the Green New Deal’s being “an aspirational document,” that seems to me roughly like my friend’s telling me within a month of the ‘08 election that Obama was “a transformational figure.” As I recall, my response was that both Caesar’s, Attila, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Hitler were also “transformational figures.” The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and Stalin’s 5-year plans were “aspirational documents.” So,I imagine, were Obama’s Nobel Prize and the ACA. Thing is, the devil’s always in the details.

    • Tersitus says

      Strike that apostrophe— spellcheck is a mixed blessing.

  24. I’m closer to Social Security age than I would like to admit, but forgive me for getting older and having a point of view.

    Joan Didion has always — always — looked facts in the face without flinching. For me, she has not been a political guidestar, but someone who is willing to face history and reality as they are. She doesn’t instruct us politically but instead directs us to apply analytical rigor, not emotions, to our evaluations of truth as it is presented.

    I appreciate these contributions and admire her tremendously.

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  26. Peter says

    Retrofitting has been going on in EU for at least two decades. No gulags so far. Retrofits are voluntary, but there are incentives. A German analysis has shown that by far the most effective use of government money is FREE ENERGY CONSULTING paid by the state. You gather some photos and facts about your building and arrange for a consultation with a specially trained civil engineer, who will suggest up to date and cost effective solutions. (Similar to agriculture extension officers?)

    Retrofitting USA in ten years is a fairy tale. Architects, planners, contractors, tradesmen need new skills an experience. Also, it seems to me that many Americans do not want to learn from others, they want to invent everything themselves. (Correct me if I am wrong.) I would suggest setting stricter building codes first. It is much easier and cost effective to build it right than to retrofit.

    In Europe, retrofitting is also embraced by some as a means of employment. There are manufacturing and engineering jobs: new efficient windows, doors, ventilation. But a lot of it is hard construction work.

    There are subsidies in EU, too, usually about 20% of the cost of retrofit. There is paperwork and there are conditions: 18 cm of insulation at least as of now etc. It protects against half-baked or bad solutions as in the case of Grenfell Tower. (BTW, the insulation of the doomed building was manufactured in the US, but was not destined for high buildings.) The main problem with subsides is that special interests try to divert them to their businesses, e.g. subsidies for wooden windows only etc.

    Retrofitting is popular in northern and central EU. Especially single homes and incompetently planned one-story elementary schools become far more comfortable and lower heating and cooling costs. Many small apartment blocks are doing it, with owners paying 80% of the cost.

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