It must be nice to live your life not having to worry how much something costs. Of course, you would have to be fabulously wealthy.
Or a liberal Democratic senator from California with access to an unlimited amount of taxpayer funds.
Or, in Kamala Harris’s case, both.
Spending other people’s money can be fun. It can also be politically profitable.
Just ask Senator Harris.
“There’s no question we have to be practical. But being practical also recognizes that climate change is an existential threat to us as human beings,” Harris began. “Being practical recognizes that greenhouse gas emissions are threat to our air, and threatening our planet. And that it is well within our capacity as human beings to change our behaviors in a way that we can reduce its effect. That’s practical. Of course we can afford it.”
And the science is settled. Besides, “being practical” means never having to say you’re sorry if you’re wrong. Some estimates put the cost of cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 at $13 trillion. Other estimates are far higher.
CNN’s John King asked Harris for her response to conservative arguments that progressive proposals could end up doing more harm than good, by crippling the U.S. economy even as major polluters like China continue unabated.
China is allowed to play by an entirely different set of environmental rules than other countries. This, of course, gives them a huge economic advantage — one they take full advantage of.
“One of the things that I admire and respect is the measurement that is captured in three letters: ROI,” Harris responded. “What’s the return on investment? People in the private sector understand this really well. It’s not about a cost. It’s about an investment. And then the question should be, is it worth the cost in terms of the investment potential? Are we going to get back more than we put in?”
Harris’ loose invocation of an economics term echoed language by Ocasio-Cortez, who has repeatedly and confidently said “there’s a little thing in economics known as externalities” to justify her Green New Deal proposal.
Steve Suranovic, a mathematician at the Institute for Economic Policy, wrote this 12 years ago:
It is a fiction to believe that creating new technologies to combat climate change will be good because it will create new industries and new jobs. This belief is based on a misunderstanding of “opportunity cost.” All of the money spent, and jobs created to produce more fuel efficient cars, carbon-capture technologies, wind and geothermal electricity plants, etc., etc., is money that will not be spent on other things, like food, clothing, health care and entertainment. In order to do one thing – i.e., clean the environment – we must not do other things – i.e., provide other goods and services that people want.
Perhaps the most brilliant semantic change made by the left in the last 50 years has been to relabel “government spending” as “investment.” We’re not “spending tax dollars.” We’re investing. Sounds great, until you remember it’s still cash coming out of your pocket being wasted by government.
The Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college for everybody, and reparations for slavery would cost tens of trillions of dollars to implement. The voters deserve to know how much they are going to be expected to pony up to make this socialist nightmare a reality. But Harris and other Democrats are going to be doing the liberal two-step to avoid talking about specifics because they know they would be slaughtered at the polls if they did.
In 2020, I doubt very much if Trump will miss a chance to inform the voters how much it will cost to save America and save the planet.