The Green Party runs on a platform of environmentalism that is often mixed with socialist ideas. Hearing Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2012 presidential candidate, talk about a “Green New Deal” wasn’t surprising but her plan opposes both environmentalism and the socialist idea that capitalism promotes waste:
Like the first New Deal, Stein’s Green New Deal is essentially Hamiltonian, aimed at preventing deflation. Not only does she propose solving the problem of underutilized mass-production facilities with Michael Moore’s expedient of retooling underutilized GM factories to produce high-speed trains, but she calls for an official “full employment” policy based on direct government creation of jobs on a counter-cyclical basis. At present that would mean government creating 25 million public sector jobs, with hiring administered through local employment centers, to guarantee full employment at a living wage.
This Hamiltonian approach is just the kind of thing genuine greens used to object to. It works on exactly the same principles as planned obsolescence and the permanent war economy — that is, it generates enough waste production to guarantee the existing stock of labor and capital will be fully utilized at a target price.
Such proposals are just a greenwashed version of mid-20th century, mass-production capitalism.
Stein wants to promote environmentalism and guarantee full employment. Unfortunately, because of her reliance on the state to accomplish her goals, her ideas are necessarily oppositional to one another. The only way the state could guarantee full employment is to either pay people for not working, draft unemployed individuals into the military, or pay people to produce goods that may or may not be purchased.
Paying people to not work will promote unemployment. Why would somebody seek employment if they knew the state would pay them to not do anything? Most people probably wouldn’t and thus everybody would seek state payment to do nothing and the entire economy of the country would collapse (which would make it impossible for the state to continue paying people to do nothing and thus such a scheme is self-defeating).
That leaves us with military drafts or paying people to produce goods. I think the downside to a military draft is fairly obvious. In order to continue paying individuals in the military the state would have to find some way to expropriate wealth from elsewhere. What better way to expropriate wealth than to invade a foreign country using the giant military you have on hand thanks to the draft? Drafting everybody into the military would, in all likelihood, lead to more wars as the state found itself needing to take more wealth from other countries to pay for it’s drafted military members.
So we’re left with paying people to produce goods. This option seems to directly clash with Stein’s other goal of environmentalism. Most environmentalists view the consumption of resources at being environmentally unfriendly and therefore advocate for reducing what they view as waste. Reducing waste involves consuming less natural resources, which requires producing less goods, using less fuel, reducing the amount of consumed electricity, and many other things that oppose increasing the production of goods. On top of that no guarantee exists that people would purchase the goods being produced as the state doesn’t have the market feedback mechanism to know what is and isn’t in demand.
This is the flaw in most progressive environmental systems. One cannot uphold a great number of socialist ideals, such as guaranteed full employment, and environmentalism.