Going by my experience at energy-efficiencizing, I’d estimate that the Ocasio-Cortez plan would require the entire population of the United States — or at least those who aren’t “unwilling to work” — to drop whatever they’re doing and start training to become insulation installers, HVAC technicians, electricians, automotive engineers or demolition experts. But even a quarter of that effort doesn’t really seem very practical. Nor politically enticing. The only historical operation even approaching such scale was the U.S. mobilization for World War II, and unfortunately for Green New Dealers, the coal industry probably won’t cooperate by bombing Pearl Harbor.
This is ordinarily the time I’d add a snarky Allahpundit-inspired “what could go wrong” rejoinder. However, Australia’s pioneering blogger Tim Blair can answer that one: the Green New Deal: A Cautionary Tale.
At the Daily Telegraph, where I work, we discovered something was amiss when our chief of staff ordered a pizza. To her surprise, the delivery man also offered an insulation quote.
There were only 250 registered insulation businesses in Australia when the package was announced. That number quickly blew out to 7,000 because the government was handing out free money to installers. Pizza drivers could pick up more in one insulation job than from a month’s worth of tips. They received their rebates directly from the government rather than from homeowners, who therefore had little incentive to check if the work had been done well or even at all. Some ceilings ended up with a mere handful of insulation batts thrown around. Others featured only shredded paper. Almost every insulation job went right up to the $1,600 cap, regardless of size or ceiling area.
The insulation army worked at frantic speed, eager to cash in while they could. When the difference between five jobs done reasonably well and eight jobs done in careless haste is $4,800, a short amount of time represents a lot of money.
Then the deaths began. Four young men were killed while installing insulation under the government’s program—three by electrocution and one from hyperthermia during the Australian summer. Dozens more workers, most of them inexperienced, suffered injuries and heat stroke.
Read on for a cameo from Peter Garrett, the former lead singer from MTV mid-’80s darlings Midnight Oil, who discovered the hard way how prescient his 1987 hit “Beds are Burning” was.