A New Way to Deal With Green Oligarchs

As it stands today, more than half of the Democratic candidates for president support the Green New Deal, a “deeply ambitious” plan that backers say would bring America to “net-zero” carbon pollution by the middle of the century.

While the Green New Deal is framed as a selfless effort to save the planet, it is really just another political hustle. One need look no further than at the monied interests behind the bill to see that Democratic donors get the goldmine and the rest of the country gets the shaft.

The billionaire class happens to support the idea because it also happens to speculate in the market for renewable energy.

Take Tom Steyer, a left-wing billionaire who poured nearly $100 million into the Democratic campaigns of 2016. As the founder of Farallon Capital and a former coal investor, Steyer is now looking to protect his investments in clean energy—even as he crows about saving the planet and mobilizing the country’s resources to stop climate change.

When speaking to reporters last month, Steyer made it clear that “there’s no way we’d support somebody who wasn’t absolutely crystal clear and credible on climate. If they’re not a climate warrior, we’re not for them. Period. Period, the end.”

And like clockwork, just as Washington Governor Jay Inslee made climate change the single issue of his fledgling campaign, Steyer pounced to provide immediate financial support from his SuperPAC.

The list of billionaires does not end with Steyer. Nathaniel Simons, founder of the Meritage investment group who is heavily invested in “net-zero” real estate, is also a top donor to environmental causes promoted by the Democratic Party.

But affirming before God and man the benefits of green energy are not just a run-of-the-mill sacrament to our country’s billionaires. For some members of the professional class, it is also a highly lucrative jobs program.

Green energy legislation is a prime case of corporate cronyism—where trillions of dollars in taxpayer money will be moved to the tech sector, the wind and solar industry, and other well-connected lobbies for the purpose of producing clean energy tools and zero-carbon technologies.

Wherever green energy legislation is passed, the activists, media tycoons, researchers, and academics working in the green-industrial complex are sure to escape unemployment.

And just as the Green New Deal would benefit much of the professional class, the impact of the bill on America’s middle class will be equally devastating. The plan as envisioned by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her democratic-socialist friends would affect the way normal Americans produce energy, farm land, raise cattle, construct homes, drive automobiles, and manufacture products—things city-dwelling liberals will likely never do in their lives.

According to a Heritage Foundation forecast, the Green New Deal would:

  • Decrease employment by 1.4 million jobs
  • Bring on a total income loss of more than $40,000 for a family of four
  • Increase the average electricity bill by 12-14 percent

In other words, green energy harms working-class families. They are the ones who spend a much higher percentage of their household income on energy for their homes and would be unable to afford green energy vehicles.

If you want to see how green energy policies would impact the working- and middle classes of America, look no further than Australia. In the Land Down Under, you see a development in their Labor Party that is similar to the affliction now consuming America’s party of limousine liberals.

“The Labor Party and its putative green allies have been transformed into an instrument of the bureaucracy and ‘progressive’ gentry, well-positioned to flourish in a hyper-regulated state,” wrote Joel Kotkin at City Journal.

As for Australia’s middle class, Kotkin notes, the number of households “earning between three-quarters and double the average income—has been dropping by more than a percentage point per decade since the 1980s.”

Australian elites, meanwhile, have little stake in the domestic forms of production which center on Australia’s natural resources. They continue to profit “from the flow of natural resources to East Asia, through tax policies or financing deals, or by pushing climate-change mitigation programs . . .”

Could not the same be said of the professional classes of America and the new political tensions  with the country’s “deplorables” working in the coal industry and in fossil fuels?

What Kotkin hints at, but does not fully develop in this piece, is how this new party divide goes far beyond economics—a commitment to green energy penetrates the social fabric of a country by making family life more difficult.

All across America, even in places like New York City, the Green New Deal would increase land use regulation and drives up the costs of housing. In some cities, especially high-cost places like New York and San Francisco, small families making less than $100,000 a year would be priced out completely.

The professional classes, meanwhile, will continue to afford a traditional conception of the American dream, while embracing policies that unwind it for the less fortunate. Having a family, a four-bedroom home, and a couple of cars would be a luxury available only to a privileged few. Everyone else, lawmakers suggest, should get used to multi-family homes and use public transportation.

For anyone who does not have a stake in building this green utopia, there is a remedy: we must continue to drive the class wedge in American politics between labor and the elites, while expanding the issue to encompass middle-class interests, which include access to things considered (until recently anyway) mainstays of American middle class life.

Just as those who traditionally vote for the Labor Party in Australia have found no place in the Labor/Green alliance, the coalition of GOP voters that continues to emerge in the United States has no stake in a green energy future. Preserving the portfolios of liberal and leftist billionaires is unlikely to be a winning issue in our democratic republic.

The good news is that the appeal to working-class voters for Republicans may not stop with the white working class. Minority groups, too, may soon ask themselves how they benefit from green energy policies.

Last year, for instance, when former U.S. Representative Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) lost to Green New Deal champion Ocasio-Cortez, many commentators saw his defeat as a sign that a new, “diverse,” wave of voters, enthusiastic for green energy, were ready to take the country by storm.

What few mention, however, is that Crowley beat Cortez among African American voters at a rate of more than two-to-one. Further, contrary to the identity-politics narrative, an Irish guy named Joe managed to split the Hispanic vote with Ocasio-Cortez almost right down the middle.

Green energy legislation, and the urban activists who represent it, are really nothing more than a wave of Millennials moving in to gentrify the district. That is, the “AOC vote” is mostly childless, white, university-educated liberals, whose tony parents will pay their energy bills no matter how high the costs may soar.

Demonstrating how liberal Democrats have become a class-conscious party, with the Green New Deal as their instrument, may be the best way to siphon off the traditional Democratic base against the professional class. We may soon have a healthy majority, united in scorn against the new green oligarchs.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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