As a parent, it’s sometimes hard to navigate that line between encouraging a child to think independently, perhaps even differently from Dad, while remaining silent as a child embraces nonsense in the public forum.
Many my age who lived through assassinations of beloved political leaders, Woodstock or, infinitely worse, the Vietnam War face that dilemma. We try to understand new thinking from younger generations while holding back “You’re a meathead!” as TV’s Archie Bunker would exclaim. Children of mid-century have to consider our own sometimes reckless, sometimes idealistic days. We demanded free love, free speech and freely moving breasts loosened by the bra-burning nascent women’s liberation movement. While not so big on free speech on college campuses it appears, the youngest of our children or the elders of our grandchildren want free stuff too: free college, free Wi-Fi and, shockingly, “free wages” if you take seriously the Green New Deal explanatory addendum with the “unwilling-to-work” proviso. If that’s not a tidbit for amplification by Sean Hannity, I don’t know one.
I was channel-surfing recently. Opening credits for the 1967 movie “The Graduate” began to roll. I watched in disbelief as the narrative, once holding such deep meaning in my youth, unfolded in cartoonish cliché and billboard-sized messaging. How simplistic it was, from the over-the-top graduation party (where the honoree was the only youth present) at his parents’ sprawling California home, to one guest delivering that classic, single word of advice: “Plastics.” That may be all the meaning in the movie. “Plastics” were the opportunity of yesterday, if also used as a dig at shallow 20th century consumerism. Today, plastics are the opportunity from 3-D printers, artificial human organs to eco-engineering as we face seas of damaging plastic flotsam and jetsam. An aside to current-day discussion: Banning plastic straws, I’m sorry, is a paltry, silly step when considering greater pollution, mostly out of U.S. control.
Which returns me to the Green New Deal. Like a detergent, bleach and fabric softener all in one, it’s the modern washday miracle to clean our planet and save mankind. Problem: Most all-in-one products, like conditioning shampoo, don’t do the job as well as those “sold separately.” And selling separately is exactly what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Ed Markey and other far lefts and progressives need to do if they are to advance any of their green deal initiatives into actionable law.
Recall that President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t get the original New Deal done with one single, sweeping act, and certainly not with a set of PowerPoint bullets. Our country was raised out of the depths of the Great Depression one issue, one law, one program at a time. Which is the tack AOC and Markey should take if they’re serious and not merely bandying about self-serving sound bites directed at their political base while providing perfect counter-material for Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the like.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Do you really want to be responsible for ensuring President Trump’s second term? Then keep talking. If not, stash the Green New Deal as written and begin drafting specific resolutions, topic by topic. It’s telling that a retired chlorine salesman from Arkansas illuminates the obvious.
Those Green New Deal talking points brand this initiative “our moonshot” and, among other things, invite comparisons to President John F. Kennedy’s decade-long, man-on-the-moon challenge. Houston, we have a problem with that analogy. For one, the Apollo missions relied on continually enhanced but readily available rocket technology, so reaching for the moon actually wasn’t such a stretch. And there were no right-of-way issues or indigenous people’s burial grounds to obstruct crossing the ionosphere nor was there much concern over the environmental impact of hydrazine rocket propellant then. Such become big and costly today if laying high-speed tracks. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called it quits as the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project was abandoned. If we can’t get such a link off the ground in high-tax, eco-aware California, then where? Waco to San Angelo? Comparatively, that’s what Californians are left with after nearly $6 billion: high-speed rail from Merced, through raisin country, to Bakersfield.
There’s no question we need a greener planet, reduction in carbon emissions and infrastructure and transportation upgrading. Health care and income inequality need to be addressed, though the “deal” addendum itself states that shaking down the corporate robber barons and billionaires isn’t alone enough to do it. How surprisingly realistic. But you can’t be taken seriously when, during ancillary conversation, you decry cow flatulence or, worse, suggest we should stop making babies. Really? That population bomb myth is so-o-o last century. Turning off middle-class Daddy’s sperm spigot, no matter his color or ilk, will not save the planet.
And no airplanes? Europeans, so beloved by progressives as embraceable models, have yet, to my knowledge, to suggest grounding Lufthansa or Air France, even with extensive, existing passenger rail service.
Dismissing Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and friends as being overreaching could cause me to be labeled a “meh” naysayer and stodgy old white man like those she contends with in chambers. To that I say to her and my own kids: Don’t be dismissive yourselves. Experience sometimes counts. After all, you youngsters didn’t coin the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” We boomers did.