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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Big Labor Comes Out Swinging Against the Green New Deal

The letter, which was addressed to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, described the proposal as “not achievable or realistic.”

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The AFL-CIO, the largest organization of labor unions in America, released a letter on Friday slamming the Green New Deal, saying the proposal would place the livelihoods of millions of Americans at risk.

“Immediate Harm”

The letter, which was addressed to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, described the proposal as “not achievable or realistic.”

“We welcome the call for labor rights and dialogue with labor, but the Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions that speak to the jobs of our members and the critical sections of our economy,” the letter says. “We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”

The AFL-CIO is comprised of 55 national and international unions that represent more than 12 million active and retired workers. Those 12 million workers appear well aware that their livelihoods—not those of the politicians who pass the legislation—would be threatened by the Green New Deal.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

The dangers of the Green New Deal are difficult to overstate. As Jarrett Stepmann noted on FEE recently:

It’s no exaggeration to say that if implemented, the Green New Deal would upend our way of life and destroy the liberty and prosperity that Americans of all backgrounds currently enjoy.

Among its goals are meeting “100 percent of national power” demand through renewable sources, retrofitting “every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort, and safety,” and eliminating “greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural, and other industries.”

As law professor Jonathan Turley recently observed, 68 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t pay $10 a month to combat climate change. So it’s unlikely that union workers (or any workers, for that matter) will roll over just because a politician says the world is going to end in 12 years.  

Nor would the Green New Deal simply be a matter of lost jobs. As others have observed, proponents of the deal have no plan for how they would grow or deliver food for the world’s 7.5 billion people without fossil fuels. It’s no exaggeration to say the GND echoes the madness of the Khmer Rouge and other regimes whose collectivist experiments resulted in the deaths of tens of millions.

It doesn’t have to be this way. As Alexander Hammond has pointed out, humans have been winning the war on poverty for 200 years; the world’s poorest today are getting richer faster than anyone else:

In the last quarter century (alone), more than 1.25 billion people escaped extreme poverty—that equates to over 138,000 people being lifted out of poverty every day. If it takes you five minutes to read this article, another 480 people will have escaped the shackles of extreme of poverty by the time you finish. Progress is awesome. In 1820, only 60 million people didn’t live in extreme poverty. In 2015, 6.6 billion did not.

All this progress requires is resisting the siren calls of envy and sloth and embracing the responsibility of liberty.

  • Jonathan Miltimore is the Senior Creative Strategist of at the Foundation for Economic Education.