The “Green New Deal“ spearheaded by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY Democrat) and Ed Markey (MA Democrat) was immediately put down not just by Congressional Republicans, by even by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Although few details of their plan are yet available, critics have amazingly been able to come up with a price tag of at least two trillion dollars – about ten percent of our Gross Domestic Product – our nation’s annual output of goods and services.
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Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that that figure is reasonably accurate. How can we possibly afford to spend such a huge sum? To lend some perspective, we have surely spent a lot more on President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. And how well did that work out for us?
Still, as Republicans and Democrats both agree – a plan as ambitious as the Green New Deal will cost a lot of money. So, it is not unreasonable to ask if our nation can afford it.
It is said that you can’t argue with a fact. Despite anything President Donald Trump might believe, climate change is not “a Chinese hoax.” It is also a fact that in recent years we have experienced the highest global temperatures on record. And it is an extremely inconvenient fact that perhaps within just the next two or three decades our planet will pass the point of no return. The damage being done to our environment will have become irreversible.
So, consider the argument that two trillion dollars is more than our nation can afford to spend. Now consider the alternative: How can we not afford to spend any sum required to save our planet?
Ocasio-Cortez and Markey call for a national mobilization rivalling the one we made after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when our nation faced an existential threat from Japan and Germany. Are the stakes any lower today than they were in those dark days?
Fox News commentators consider the Green New Deal a major step towards “socialism.” Well OK, let them call it anything they want. But if it’s our last best hope to save our planet, then just maybe we should be willing to consider this plan.
About the Author:
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) which was published last August.