Associate Professor of Economics Charles Steele discussed the socialist undertones of the Green New Deal and the impracticality of the proposal from an economic standpoint in a talk put on by students in the American Chemical Society and the Classical Liberal Organization on April 16.
Steele said he aimed to show that many of the current climate proposals are not about climate at all, explain how these proposals would destroy modern society, and show how these proposals are not reasonable solutions for climate problems.
“These proposals are actually about getting rid of the market system and replacing it with socialism,” Steele said.
Steele explained the basic differences between a market allocation system and a socialist allocation system in order to highlight ways in which the Green New Deal is a form of socialism.
“Market allocation requires individuals to be able to have the right to own property, the right to direct it, the right to exchange it, and the right to utilize it,” Steele said.
Socialist allocation, Steele said, is based on central economic planning.
“With central direction, experts formulate a plan, and individuals in a society follow that plan,” Steele said.
The Green New Deal, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑N.Y. and Edward John Markey, D‑M.A., is not legislation. Steele said it’s a proposal for developing legislation that would fit a particular framework.
“It is a call for radical restructuring of the U.S. economy and society,” Steele said.
This framework is based off of a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC SR15 – – released Oct. 8, 2018 – – calls for fundamental transformations of societies.
Chairman and Professor of Physics Kenneth Hayes said it has been 31 years since the IPCC was formed, but there’s been no change in the rate that carbon dioxide has been entering the atmosphere.
“It’s still exponentially growing,” Hayes said. “If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we can totally expect that growth of carbon dioxide to continue to grow in the atmosphere.”
The Green New Deal has four components unrelated to climate: a public bank, federal guaranteed job programs, nationalized healthcare, and possibly the universal basic income idea.
“The proposal is about replacing market direction of the economy with some form of central direction by the government,” Steele said.
In terms of climate proposals, the Green New Deal has a fundamental idea to eliminate fossil fuels within 10 years.
“The bottom line of my analysis is that what they propose is physically impossible,” Steele said. “Even if this were successfully implemented, it would not cure the climate problem because it doesn’t do anything to address the future growth of emissions in the developing world.”
Steele said two-thirds of U.S. electricity production comes from fossil fuels.
“The idea is to replace fossil fuel capacity with wind and solar energy,” Steele said. “But to do that would require building more than nine times the solar wind and capacity that was built in the previous 10 years.”
The Green New Deal also proposes heavy carbon taxes to facilitate the shutdown of electricity production using fossil fuels.
“Simply from the standpoint of electricity, having the Green New Deal would be the equivalent of having a serious recession and a shrinking of the economy,” Steele said. “Production would necessarily fall from reductions in electricity.”
In relation to agriculture, the Green New Deal’s proposal would make it nearly impossible for farmers to transport food to people. Steele said Green New Deal proponents envision a dramatic shift to small scale, local organic agriculture.
“The people who are proposing this have absolutely no understanding of what modern agriculture is or how it functions,” Steele said. “This is a pipe dream, and yet it is being proposed as a serious plan.”
Steele compared the Green New Deal and the IPCC proposals to Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward.
“The Great Leap Forward was a catastrophe for China,” Steele said. “It was Mao’s plan to radically restructure the Chinese economy, and it led to the deaths of millions of people.”
After viewing the images, junior economics and biochemistry major Natalia Bodnar said she started to understand the real consequences of the deal
“In America, we consider ourselves a successful society with economic growth,” Bodnar said. “And to start dabbling with certain policies that could result in devastation like in China is very alarming.”
Bodnar said she hopes people become more informed about the Green New Deal.
“If something seems interesting and a lot of people are talking about it, that’s because it’s important,” Bodnar said.