The Green New Deal’s misguided plan to combat climate change – Washington Examiner
It’s amusing that every Democrat in the Senate was too scared to vote for the Green New Deal. They are, in Margaret Thatcher’s language, “frit.”
The fright is ironic because nearly every candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination has lauded the Green New Deal as the next big thing, and some of those praising it are even in the Senate.
This shows what a gulf there can be between what the party activists want and what the nation does, which is fortunate. There’s also that gaping gulf between what the party activists want and what we really should be doing. Yea, even on climate change, even the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal’s central conceit is that climate change is such an imminent and catastrophic problem that we’ve got to mobilize the entire resources of society to avert it. I happen to think that there is a problem here, one we should do something about, yet it’s neither looming nor a catastrophe. But then, that’s because I’m informed on the subject, having read the reports and the studies and even understood them. Green New Deal proponents then tell us that the way to mobilize the entirety of society is through government bureaucracy, though there isn’t anyone who can honestly say that committees are an effective way of getting something done.
But then, that’s just being sensible and adult when there’s a deeper misunderstanding by the Green New Deal’s proponents. They seem to think that government beats markets, and that’s simply not true.
Look at Turkey right now. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thinks the value of the lira is different from what the markets think. It’s the latter who will win, as it was George Soros and others who beat the Bank of England in 1992. And it was the markets that beat global governance in the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s. Markets work. Government, not so much.
Governments can influence markets, most certainly, but they can’t abolish them, ignore them, or refute their messages. Looking east from the Brandenburg Gate in 1989 proved that for generations to come. And that’s the problem with the Green New Deal: It thinks the larger the problems, the more we must use governance. Instead, the greater the problems, the more we should influence markets as our tool. They are the only thing we’ve got strong or fast enough to work.
An example of this is a report from the Manhattan Institute. We simply don’t yet have the technologies necessary to live without fossil fuels. We certainly can’t run a grid, for example, that relies on such intermittent supplies. We lack not the political will or the money, but the know-how. We face uncertainty, that is, as to how we should even try to achieve that goal.
Uncertainty is something for which you can’t plan. We do know what our goal is: less or, if possible, no fossil fuel use. How we get from here to there is the problem. And if we do want to mobilize the entire society to work on the problem, then we need to do so. Changing prices in markets will help.
As I pointed out before, there are possible new technologies such as space solar. We don’t know whether it’s going to be economic, but let’s experiment. Or maybe to reduce gasoline usage we should move houses, have a smaller car, or get a smaller engine. Why not all of those? That’s the very thing that changed prices do for us. Everyone faces those incentives; thus, everyone is influenced by them.
Think on it. The Green New Deal is giving Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a $93 trillion checkbook and hoping she gets it right. That would not work out well.
If you change prices with a carbon tax, however, all 320 million of us gnaw away at the bone of this problem. Many of the things we try won’t work, but some will. And we humans aren’t quite monkey see, monkey do. We’re a type of ape, but we do copy what works and drop what doesn’t.
So, what actually works in mobilizing the entire society to solve a problem? Here, obviously, it’s the carbon tax. And the more urgent you think climate change is, the more you should support that, rather than bureaucrats writing environmental impact statements.
You see, there is a reason why 78 percent of economists think prices, not regulations, are the way to beat climate change, and why more than 3,300 economists, including 27 Nobel laureates, signed up to endorse such a plan. You know, it’ll work. And guess what? They’re not also asking for control of that $93 trillion, either.
Tim Worstall (@worstall) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’ s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute. You can read all his pieces at the Continental Telegraph.