The Green New Deal - Riffing on Hamilton

Richard Stanley

The following excerpt is the opening paragraphs of a long article on the Green New Deal championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The article persuasively argues that this proposal is well within the long tradition of the American government guiding the "invisible hand" of the private sector in fostering the tackling of vast, new economic projects. And that without it having done so, we would not have interstate highways, railroads, computers, the Internet, and more.

The economic thinker who most influenced the Green New Deal isn’t Marx or Lenin. 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. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system.
Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work. ...

The article discusses that beginning with Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman, the new libertarian laissez-faire economic ideology has mostly won the day and thus we have unwisely abandoned this practice of guiding the Invisible Hand (of Adam Smith's). The consequence of which has been the ceding of vast swathes of economic growth to other regions, thus creating the divisive social environment of today.

As the article also discusses Trump's use of such as tariffs have been tinged with his racist rhetoric, making the proponents of the Green New Deal adopt less effective political messaging in reaction.

The nuanced metaphor of a 'guided Invisible Hand' goes partway to the notion of a 'hybrid' socialist/capitalist economy, of which we've actually had to some degree for a long time.

The article provides a link, also below, to the considerable reading list of the New Consensus, the economic group also pushing the Green New Deal. Some of the books discuss the successful history of how countries, recent and centuries past, including the USA, have done all this before.