How is the American Green Party claim that the Green New Deal will pay for itself to be understood in terms of a growth based consumer society?

The American Green Party on its web page promoting legislation to combat climate claims that the Green New Deal will pay for itself via cuts in the military budget which will be enabled when we no longer need to protect foreign sources of oil and natural gas, and by a reduction in health care cost as fossil fuel related illnesses disappear.

I cannot really speak to what the Green Party mean by the words “pay for itself” since they do not explicitly give an explanation, but the common understanding of these words will be that no reduction in our standards of consumption will be required. The amount of traveling that we do, the size of our houses, the variety and sophistication of consumer goods and services will not decrease. And in fact, the ordinary machinery of capitalism requires that the variety and sophistication of consumer goods and services should continually increase in order to produce the economic growth required for the “healthy” functioning of private credit markets. I call this optimistic view of ecological maturation the all gain and no pain version of social transformation.

If this “green” growth scenario is false and we will need to lower the output of consumer goods in order to dedicate the right amount of resources to infrastructure transformation then many people would predict a future of decay, destruction and chaos since it is well known that the only alternative to Wall Street is the Politburo. Since the Politburo admitted its own failure and incompetence in 1991 and committed suicide, the future does not look very bright if you believe in this dichotomy.

Personally, though, I have refused to accept the assumption that human creativity in the sphere of social organization has already been exhausted so that our only option is to choose among a limited group of completely developed alternatives. My own conception of economic organization is based on the realization that private markets for goods and services and private credit markets are not an indissoluble whole. Credit in its most fundamental sense is making intelligent decisions about relatively intensive expenditures of resources in the present that are intended to enhance welfare over a relatively long period of time in the future. The evidence that a competitive contest for the unbounded accumulation of future consumption rights results in intelligent decisions about economic infrastructure is weakening by the day.

In my book Eight Economic Truths I propose the alternative of non-profit community credit markets whose goal is to aid in creation and maintenance of valuable infrastructure rather than to produce exponentially increasing flows consumption rights (and therefore exponentially increasing flows of consumables). These community credit markets could still serve private businesses, but the primary goal of those businesses would no longer be to increase shareholder value but rather to enable the actual producers of useful goods and services to have a decent quality of life. What a concept!

I discuss a variety of issues how the structure and function of such community credit markets in my book. These issues include structure and function, performance measurements (Yes, even though the purpose of such credit markets is to make infrastructure rather than to “make money” they must be deeply concerned with return on investment), and on the possibility of an evolutionary transformation as opposed to a revolutionary one. I do not claim to evolved a magical master plan which will bring about the millennium if only people will admit to its truth and adopt all of its recommendations. But I hope to provide the basis for further intelligent conversation about the structural transformation of a system which is clearly not sustainable in its present form.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.