The Green New Deal: Welcome to a Command Economy

February 18, 2019 Updated: February 18, 2019


The late, great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises posited three categories of economies: “unhampered,” the capitalist ideal of a laissez-faire, private property order; “hampered,” a fundamentally market-based economy overlaid with considerable government intervention and redistribution of wealth; and “command,” meaning that the market economy has been obliterated and government has taken over the primary means of production.

As explained to me by my late mentor, Dr. Hans Sennholz (who grew up in Nazi Germany, later earned his doctorate in economics under Mises’ guidance at NYU, and became a tireless advocate for free markets), the command economy can be fascist or socialist. The primary difference is that under fascism, businesses remain nominally private, whereas under socialism, the state formally takes ownership. Under either variant, the state controls and mandates what and how much is produced, what wages to pay, what prices to charge, what suppliers are used, and so on.

With the unveiling of her Green New Deal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has proposed that the United States be transformed into a command economy. Her fellow “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a gaggle of Democratic presidential hopefuls all jumped on the bandwagon. This is a very helpful step—helpful in that it clarifies exactly how radical the Ocasio-Cortez/Sanders ideology is.

No longer should anyone be lulled into a false sense of security by Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the adjective “democratic.” No longer will Sanders be able to soft-pedal his socialism by claiming disingenuously that he wants the United States to adopt the Scandinavian model of “socialism.” That was a bogus claim from the start, since the Scandinavian countries are not socialist. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen corrected the error in Sanders’ assertion, categorically stating: “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

The Nordic countries are not socialist, but they do have elaborate, expensive social welfare safety nets that require high taxes on virtually everyone, including the middle class. It’s funny how Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez avoid saying that there will need to be massive tax increases on middle-class citizens to fund a Scandinavian-style welfare state.

But Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez want Uncle Sam to exercise far more control over the U.S. economy than simply expanding welfare programs.

Seizing Control

In the Nordic countries, the principle of private ownership of business is respected, and governments do not dictate to businesses how to spend their money. By contrast, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and their political cronies favor mandating a higher minimum wage. (Note: There are no minimum wage laws in Scandinavia.)

Further, Sanders joined with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) earlier this month to propose a plan that would impose various requirements, such as paying more money to their employees, in order to receive government permission to buy back their own stock. Let that sink in for a moment: The left seeks to dictate how private corporations arrange their own finances and deploy their own assets.

Proposed laws that dictate minimum wages and preconditions for share buybacks chip away at the principle of “private” business, but the Green New Deal would obliterate it. Clearly, Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and their gang don’t want some watered-down version; they want socialism comparable to what Venezuela has today or what the Eastern Bloc had 30 to 70 years ago. If you don’t think so, just read their wish list.

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website called for government control over huge sectors of the U.S. economy: “Medicare for all,” “a federal jobs guarantee,” “higher education/trade school for all,” and “housing as a human right.”

The Green New Deal goes much, much further. It calls for the elimination of fossil fuels in 10 years—that is, the closing of all gas stations, replacing them with electric-charging stations; replacing or retooling tens of millions of vehicles that travel by land, sea, or air (with the alarming acknowledgment “we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to get rid of … airplanes [in ten years]”; replacing all power plants that use fossil fuels with wind and solar; and eliminating all jobs involved in the exploration, extraction, refining, and transportation of fossil fuels.

The plan also wants to “retrofit every building in America,” “overhaul transportation and agriculture,” “provide job training and education to all,” “guarantee a job with family-sustaining wages,” “provide high-quality health care, housing,” and “ensure universal access to healthy food.”

In short, according to the FAQ that Ocasio-Cortez posted, the Green New Deal is “the plan to build [a] new economy.” (Notice the arrogance: “the plan,” not “a plan.”) Folks, this is a call for central economic planning, Soviet-style. It would require the government to seize operational control over economic production and press tens of millions of workers into service building what the government orders rather than what consumers want—a failsafe recipe for impoverishment.

Saving the World

This plan to “mobilize every aspect of the American economy” is pharaonic in its epic proportions. Just as the Egyptian pharaoh organized his people to build pyramids, Ocasio-Cortez regards the American people as worker bees who should compliantly accept their government-appointed role in the new economic order and build the equivalent of hundreds of pyramids—uneconomic monuments to the green gods.

If you think comparing Ocasio-Cortez to a pharaoh is over the top, her Senate co-sponsor, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), actually one-upped her. No mere pharaoh, Markey assumed the mantle of a mega-messiah, not content to offer salvation to the human race, but praising the Green New Deal as “a mission to save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.” “All of creation”—the whole universe? Something tells me that man has been in Congress too long.

Setting aside comparisons to pharaohs and the messiah, Ocasio-Cortez is acting like a communist despot, exhibiting totalitarian tendencies. So fanatical is she in her desire to save the world from her fantasized fear of carbon dioxide, that she recently—in collaboration with Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine—issued a thinly veiled threat to the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

In the letter, Ocasio-Cortez and her colleague scolded the high-tech giants for having co-sponsored LibertyCon, a libertarian conference that included speakers from both sides of the “what to do about climate change” debate.

After acknowledging the companies’ “past commitments … to address climate change” and “the example [they] have set promoting sustainability and evidence-based science,” Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree then stated that the companies had “compromised” their past good behavior “by [their] implicit support of the session” that included a skeptical opinion. (Note: Computer models are not evidence-based science, both because they contradict actual observational evidence and because they are predictions, not facts.)

The letter went on to warn the tech titans that it was “imperative to ensure that the climate-related views espoused at LibertyCon do not reflect the values of your companies.” Not only is this a clumsy attempt to squelch free speech, it has the totalitarian flavor of denouncing certain thoughts or beliefs as unacceptable. One can imagine future inquisitions: “Do you now or have you ever thought that carbon dioxide is not a threat to life as we know it?”

As draconian and potentially totalitarian as Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal are, we should be grateful that the socialist threat has come out from hiding and made its intentions so explicit and unmistakable.

For example, the newest declared candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), has already shown how shameless she can be in speaking out of both sides of her mouth. On one hand, she has said that she would vote in favor of the Green New Deal. On the other, she affirmed on Fox News, “I am a Democrat and not a socialist. … I believe in capitalism.” Sorry, senator, you can’t have it both ways. If you are for the Green New Deal—a socialistic central plan that would usher in a command economy in the United States—you are a socialist, period.

Thank you, Ocasio-Cortez, for helping to clarify who is a socialist and who isn’t.

Mark Hendrickson is an adjunct professor of economics and sociology at Grove City College. He is the author of several books, including “The Big Picture: The Science, Politics, and Economics of Climate Change.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.