The folly of Democratic socialism

The Green New Deal would be far too expensive

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The folly of Democratic socialism

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By Greg Fournier, Collegian Contributor

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Earlier this month, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey released a broad new proposal dubbed “The Green New Deal.” This bill is a series of policy initiatives that lay out the future of so-called Democratic socialism, championed by people like the freshman Congresswoman from New York and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The Green New Deal proposes many ideas, including drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels so the United States is a carbon-neutral producer by 2030, replacing most to all air travel with high-speed railways and providing a universal jobs program the likes of which has not been seen since the original New Deal. While some of these ideas may sound beneficial and necessary in order to reduce the effects of climate change, most ordinary Americans find them far too ambitious.

Perhaps the most visible example of this is a video by Campus Reform. In the video, a man asks college students at the University of Miami if they like the Green New Deal. Everyone who is featured expresses initial support for the proposal. However, when the interviewer explains to them three of the most drastic proposals, they all balk and say that they do not think this would be feasible. Everyone featured in the video decided by the end of the explanation that they are significantly more skeptical about the policy than they were when they first heard about it.

This should concern Democratic socialists like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. College students are very left-leaning, with 35.5 percent of them aligning as “liberal” or “far-left” compared with the rest of the population, where only 26 percent of people consider themselves to be liberal. I think that this video is a microcosm of all Democratic socialist ideas: While the proposals sound great at first, people do not support the proposals after actually looking into the issue.

This features heavily in presidential politics, too. Every one of the Democratic candidates for 2020 has come out in support of the Green New Deal and other such proposals. For instance, Kamala Harris, one of the Democratic front-runners for 2020, said that her Medicare for All proposal would completely abolish the private health care industry. She later had to walk this statement back, but the fact that she would utter it in the first place demonstrates how far to the left she and every other potential Trump opponent are of ordinary Americans. Despite the cheering in the crowd of the town hall where she made this statement, most Americans prefer a privately-run, government-ensured health care industry. Medicare for All certainly has great bumper-sticker appeal, but once people find out that this would require abolishing the private health care industry, most people will run from this as fast as they can.

This socialist problem is even acknowledged on the left-leaning website Vox. According to an opinion article by Brian Riedl, “the democratic socialist agenda will face resistance not only from other lawmakers but from basic math.” He goes on to say that proposals made by Democratic socialists, “which include free college, a single-payer health care system, guaranteed jobs, and more, would require astonishingly high expenditures that would cause the federal deficit to skyrocket.”

Still skeptical about whether these proposals are too expensive? Don’t just take it from me; Riedl’s article reports some figures that should surprise you. Using “figures from nonpartisan and even left-leaning groups,” Riedl writes that Medicare for All, for instance, would cost $32 trillion over ten years. Free college would add another $807 billion over the same decade. Other proposals have similar price tags: 12 weeks of family paid leave for everyone would cost $270 billion, and a universal jobs guarantee comes in at a hefty $6.8 trillion. All told, these proposals would knock us back $42.5 trillion over the next ten years.

Yes, you read that right.

I yearn for the day when these presidential candidates will have to explain to the American people, many who think their taxes are already too high, the platforms they are running on. These presidential hopefuls are inordinately lucky that they are running against someone as unpopular as President Trump in 2020; otherwise, they would have absolutely no chance to become president.

One would think that the 20th century would illustrate how well socialism works as an economic system. Apparently, a good portion of the American people have not learned from the mistakes of the past. Socialist ideas may sound benevolent and feasible when they are first heard, but all one has to do is dig right below the surface to discover the absurdities underlying the Democratic socialist agenda.

Greg Fournier is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]