Accuracy in Media

The Atlantic compared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her “Green New Deal” environmental proposal to founding father Alexander Hamilton, but Atlantic writer Robinson Meyer fails to provide any successful examples of policies like the Green New Deal successfully working, contrary to Hamilton’s success.

“The economic thinker who most influenced the Green New Deal isn’t Marx or Lenin,” Meyer writes. “No, if you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton. Yes, Alexander Hamilton. Long before he was associated with theatrical hip-hop, former Treasury Secretary Hamilton called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure.”

Meyer delves into praising Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal without examining failures in Germany, Australia, Massachusetts, the collapse of Solyndra and many other examples of government policy failing to achieve the emissions targets or create economically feasible business models for “clean energy.”

“Above all, the Green New Deal is a leftist resurrection of federal industrial policy,” Meyers writes. “It is not an attempt to control the private sector, according to its authors; it is a bid to collaborate with it. And it draws on a set of ideas with a rich American history, extending long before the great World War II mobilization to which the Green New Deal is regularly compared. ‘This goes back to Hamilton, the daddy of it all,’ says Stephen Cohen, a professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley. He argues that industrial policy has birthed the transcontinental railroad, the cookie-cutter suburb, the home appliance, and the computer—nearly every major American economic transition since 1776.”

But Meyer does not consider that the “major American economic transition” that Ocasio-Cortez seeks is phenomenally more disruptive and costly than anything Hamilton proposed.

The costs were outlined in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal: “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there was approximately 850 gigawatts of uranium and fossil-fuel installed electricity capacity in the U.S. as of 2016. Also, according to the EIA, as of January 2019, total capital costs per kilowatt for onshore wind range from $1,455 a kilowatt to $2,773 a kilowatt. Solar is $1,759-$3,212 a kilowatt. Let’s assume there is amazing innovation and costs decline to $500 a kilowatt for both of them. To replace 850 gigawatts (850,000,000 kilowatts) of capacity would cost $425 trillion, give or take a few dozen trillion.”

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