News & Politics

Life in the Green New Deal 'Paradise'? Nasty, Brutish, and Short.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embraces Sen. Ed Markey during a press conference to announce the "Green New Deal" held at the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019. (Alex Edelman / CNP/dpa/AP Images)

Not long ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC — one of the best comedy accounts on Twitter) released (then retracted, and then disclaimed) the “Justice Democrats'” Green New Deal FAQ. (See @AOC and the Magic Choo-Choo.)

The GND’s promises just didn’t add up, but mere arithmetic often doesn’t discourage a true believer. I started pondering what life would be like under the Green New Deal. (This is Part One of a two-part series. In the second part, we’ll consider what can really be done to make transportation better.)

Welcome to the Green Paradise

The phone rings with its piercing “I don’t care if you set do-not-disturb” ring. You wake, heart pounding. It’s Mom.

“Mom? What happened? What’s wrong?”

“It’s your grandmother, honey. She’s in the National Health — she fell and broke her hip.”

“Oh my God! What are they doing?”

“Right now, they’re keeping her comfortable. The Surgery Board meets today at 10, but she’s 86, and, well…” her voice trails off.

You understand what she means without either of you saying it out loud. Grandma is a retired teacher, no priority points for that, and Polish-Americans don’t get extra social credit.

“Honey, you might want to come out. Grandma hasn’t seen you in years.”

“Right, Mom. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She hangs up. You climb down from the loft of your little house, sit down at the dining room table/desk, and link your phone to the bigger screen.

First place to look is the airlines, but you don’t hold much hope. You own a convenience store, and while you make a fairly good living even after paying taxes including the wealth tax on the store itself, it’s not like being a government employee — not much social credit for running a store. Still, you might luck out.

But you don’t. No seats are available for anyone with your social credit. You try the lottery, but that’s a long shot and they won’t draw a name for hours.

The high-speed rail runs through Elko, where you live, but it doesn’t stop there — the nearest station for the eastbound train is in Salt Lake City, 400 kilometers away. You could lease an Ecocar, but it only has a 200-kilometer range. It’s Sunday morning and the local train runs on Wednesday and Saturday. But there’s a bus leaving in an hour. You quickly pack a bag.

The bus is full and more. You — foolishly — give up your seat to an old woman using a walker, and end up standing for most of the eight-hour trip. But you get to the station, check in, and get a Quality Class seat to Boston. Your social credit isn’t sufficient for Excellence Class much less Empire Class, but you couldn’t afford it anyway.

Still, compared to the local bus, the Quality Class car is a palace. It’s packed too, but there are no standing-room passengers — you have a seat of your own, although it’s not one near windows. The seat is even comfortable — for the first day.

Mom calls you again. “Hi, honey.”

“Hi, Mom. How’s Grandma?” The train was noisy, the connection was bad — it was hard to hear her at all.

“We just heard back from the board. What she needs is a hip replacement, but, well, she’s old and doesn’t have much social credit left — they put her on the elective surgery list.”

“Oh, no.” You know the answer is bad, but you ask anyway. “How long is the wait list?”

“For over 75? About eight years.” She pauses for a moment. “Honey, are you coming? She was asking about you.”

“I’m on my way. I just caught the train in Salt Lake.”

“You couldn’t get a plane?”

“No. I don’t have enough social credit.”

You can hear the anger in her voice. “But it’s an emergency! They should make an exception! When I was your age, the airlines would just let you buy a ticket — when my grandfather died, they even had a bereavement fare. Why do we vote for these people?”

“Mom, please. Neither of us can afford to lose any credit right now. Don’t talk about it — not on the phone. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

The train really is fast — up to 210 kilometers per hour on flat stretches, slower through the mountains, and only stopping in Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia before arriving in Andrew Cuomo Station on 33rd Street in New York City. But that was most of three days; by the time you arrive, you’re tired, sweaty, and your back hurts. To make matters worse, when you arrived you discovered your connecting train, the HyperAcela, was leaving from DeBlasio station on 42nd.

And you’re worried. You have talked to your family several times a day (even though it costs $10 to charge your phone), every time being told Grandma isn’t doing well. The doctor prescribed morphine but after three days the Drug Control Advocate canceled the prescription saying that Grandma was “at risk for opiate addiction.” Mom bought ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the gift shop, but it wasn’t helping, and Grandma isn’t eating. “Please hurry, honey. You can get her to eat. She’ll listen to you.”

You rush to DeBlasio on foot — an hour’s wait for a cab, not worth it — and manage to catch the train. Packed again, but the discomfort is less troubling than the worrying. In Boston, you get on the bus to Portsmouth, N.H., your home town.

On the bus, your phone rings again. Your mother. She’s crying. “Honey, I’m sorry. Grandma passed about a half hour ago.”

Is This Over The Top?

As I wrote it, I wondered. But it’s all based on the Green New Deal FAQ, and other real statements from real Democrat politicians. (“Maybe grandma should just take a pain pill instead of having an expensive operation.”)

The other things are all in the GND. “Unnecessary” air travel — but we know it will still exist for “important” people. High-speed trains on conventional track — but only managing 140 mph because of the limits of conventional tracks and rights of way. Eliminating private cars and internal-combustion engines, and replacing them with “socially responsible” mass transit.

Does it have to be this way?

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are realistic solutions that are either technically feasible now, or feasible in the near future, that provide the flexibility, and even the energy efficiency the Green New Deal lacks.  We’ll look at that alternate universe is Part Two.