James Shott / January 15, 2019

The New Deal Is Long Gone; Let’s Leave It in Its Place in History

Few people alive today experienced the Great Depression, that period brought on by the stock market crash of 1929 and made worse by the Dust Bowl of the ’30s. It was a time of great misery for America and much worse than what today is referred to as the Great Recession that followed the market’s steep downturn beginning in December 2007.

Few people alive today experienced the Great Depression, that period brought on by the stock market crash of 1929 and made worse by the Dust Bowl of the ‘30s. It was a time of great misery for America and much worse than what today is referred to as the Great Recession that followed the market’s steep downturn beginning in December 2007.

While the latter event was the longest recession since World War II, lasting until June 2009, and its severity notable, it was not comparable to the depression from which it got its name.

In the '30s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to the severe economic conditions with programs known as the New Deal. Those who lived through it may well regard FDR’s efforts in a positive light, as they “gave the country hope.”

But as is often the case, those memories do FDR more justice than he deserves. His program of high taxes and spending prolonged and deepened the misery. However, though the country suffered longer and more severely, it did survive.

Democrats still entertain ideas similar to Roosevelt’s. In a nation created with specific limits on government’s size and power, a major political party does its best to increase government’s size and influence over its citizens.

A current proposal harkens back to the dark days of the '30s with a new “New Deal,” this one called the “Green New Deal,” combining the horrors of FDR’s missteps with the equal horrors of the manic climate change faction.

Typical of leftist/liberal prescriptions for a better world, this one touts and focuses on a set of desired results but avoids paying any real attention to the enormous costs those desired results would create.

The Green New Deal is only a draft resolution at this point, but it proposes to do away with all fossil fuel use by 2030, just 10 years after its legislation is supposed to be completed.

The proponent of this measure is — surprise! — the newly elected Democrat darling, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has raised the ire of her Democrat colleagues with her behavior, which pays little deference to the party leadership, as she stumbles in and out of controversy.

Her methodology for this grand idea asks questions like “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?” or “Shouldn’t we?” But it pays little attention to the answers to those questions, such as “At what cost?” or “Who will this hurt?”

On the subject of “wouldn’t it be nice,” the Green New Deal proposes making the nation run on only renewable forms of energy, as well as upgrading every residential and industrial building to improve comfort and safety.

And it goes further beyond the green aspects of our lives. It also proposes to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one. And we must establish additional measures, such as basic income programs, universal health care programs, and any others that the select committee, which will be formed to flesh out the draft, deems appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility, and entrepreneurism.

The cost of these pie-in-the-sky goals runs about $40 trillion over the next 10 years, roughly double the current national debt.

Fossil fuels have weaknesses that make them undesirable. But renewable energy sources have weaknesses, too. Windmills kill birds at alarming rates, and large solar arrays also kill birds. You might expect these factors to upset green organizations that work to protect animals.

Solar panels only work when the sun is shining, and windmills only work when the wind blows. As it turns out, according to the Department of Energy, the most advanced wind turbines only reach their rated capacity roughly 42.5% of the time. And the most advanced, motorized solar panels achieve their rated capacity roughly 26% of the time.

Currently, fossil fuel backup systems turn on when wind and solar can’t work, but the plan is to stop using them. If we are to be prohibited from burning coal and natural gas, the other options are using more nuclear energy, which attracts strong opposition like that of fossil fuels, or store energy in batteries in humongous numbers.

Further, banning fossil fuels from all agricultural, manufacturing, and transportation uses would dramatically increase the cost of every product in the United States and make it difficult for American businesses to export products at reasonable prices.

This proposal, like so many liberal creations, sounds wonderful, but poses substantial problems.

What works best in such monumental transitions like this is a gradual evolution from the old to the new. That, however, is not part of the plan. The left/liberal method is not gradual evolution but government force, as we saw in former President Barack Obama’s war on coal.

As science, technology, and manufacturing processes evolve and improve, green energy will gradually and naturally replace burning fossil fuels for many of their uses. America already leads the world in carbon reduction. It should not punish its citizens further by implementing unnecessary and painful measures.

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