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Socialists have always had a problem with F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom), Milton Friedman (Capitalism and Freedom) and other free-market economists. As the Democrats’ “Green New Deal” confirms, socialists also have a quarrel with Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, and other promoters of modernity. A classic movie provides the back story.
“The Grapes of Wrath,” based on the John Steinbeck novel, showcased the hardships of the Depression and for many served as a powerful critique of American capitalism, at a time when admiration for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was all the rage. The movie hit theatres in 1940, when the Stalin-Hitler Pact prevailed, although Stalin didn’t allow the film to be shown in the USSR until 1948. The Soviet dictator thought this American-made movie would serve as effective anti-capitalist propaganda, but his gambit backfired.
As the film showed, in America the poor owned cars and trucks and could drive anywhere they wanted. Stalin quickly yanked the film but, as Nicola Budanovic notes, the episode openly revealed “the flaws of a central-planned economy.” Eventually, “this crippled economy and a great shortage of goods would be one of the main causes for that system to collapse.”
The production techniques of Henry Ford lowered costs and made cars accessible to the masses. Workers could purchase the products they made and after World War II, automobile travel opened up the country on the interstate highway system. As Dinah Shore sang, “see the USA in your Chevrolet,” and millions still do. Socialists don’t like individual transportation and the freedom of movement it affords. True to form, the Green New Deal is “all aboard” for collective transportation in the form of trains. They also want to ground air travel, another American original.
Not so long ago, on December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers took flight in the first successful power-driven airplane. Orville and Wilbur Wright gained fame as the “fathers of modern aviation,” which grew at a rapid pace. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first to fly across the Atlantic, and soon airplanes were transporting passengers across the oceans. Propeller aircraft gave way to jetliners such as the Boeing 707, which made its first flight on July 15, 1954, only six years after Orville Wright passed away, and went on to “popularize jet travel.”
From the 1960s onward, jetliners whisked people around the globe, at prices the American middle class could afford, and reduced delivery times for goods and emergency services. If that is not progress, it is hard to imagine what might be. The socialists, who fancy themselves “progressives,” want to ground the airliners, which as Senator Mazie Hirono lamented, “would be pretty hard for Hawaii.” Good point, Mazie, but there’s more. This crowd is also at odds with Louis Pasteur.
Those “farting cows” have to go, so no more milk and dairy products, and of course no more hamburgers. Actress Cybill Shepherd once appeared in commercials describing beef as “real food for real people.” And as she said, “I know people who don’t eat burgers, but I’m not sure I trust them.” Yet even those who avoid burgers have good reason to distrust socialists.
On the Left, the first principle is “from each,” and the Green New Deal would take away your choice in a gas-powered car, your airline travel, and even your food. With retrofitting in the mix, it even makes a grab for your current house and the sort of buildings you favor. It’s a massive property grab, eminent domain on steroids.
With marginal rates of 70 percent and beyond, the socialists would also take plenty of money from people who work and give it to people unwilling to work. So for this crowd, as Dire Straits said, it’s money for nothing.
As Paul Hollander showed in Political Pilgrims, the American Left once idolized the Soviet Union, where Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders spent his honeymoon. With the USSR gone, all that remains is hatred for free-market capitalism, the greatest generator of wealth in history.
In I Change Worlds, American socialist Anna Louise Strong wrote that Stalin was too important to be called “a god.” Malcolm Muggeridge observed in response that Strong had a look of such overwhelming stupidity that it gave her a kind of rare beauty. For her part, Green Deal mouthpiece Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, often looks like the first person in a 1950s science fiction movie to see the flying saucer.
The freshman congresswoman has no record of thoughtful books, essays, or articles and shows little evidence of having read the key political and economic works of our time. On the other hand, she betrays fathomless ignorance of socialism’s actual record. Her Green New Deal essentially is a suicide note for the United States, the nation that actually exists.
Meanwhile, way back in 1967, the Box Tops may have provided an anthem for those willing to oppose her: “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain’t got time to take a fast train.” And feel free to accompany by flashing half a peace sign.
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