Megan McArdle is unimpressed by the “Green New Deal” proposal to say the least. From her Washington Post column:

Progressives frequently argue that getting to “as much as possible” requires setting goals that are out of reach. They call it “shifting the Overton window,” or widening the spectrum of plausible policy options, an idea broached in the 1990s by policy analyst Joseph P. Overton. The folk version: Ask for the stars, you’ll get the moon.

Fair enough. Sometimes people and causes do lose out by being too timid. What the progressive window-shoppers forget is that they can also lose out by being over-aggressive.

A pedestrian example: Many people could do better, salary-wise, if they simply negotiated harder with potential employers. But few of them could do better by opening with a pugnacious demand for $1 million a year. Wild demands, unmoored from reality, don’t increase what you ultimately take away from a negotiation; they are much more likely to end the negotiation abruptly when the other party concludes that you’re crazy.

Here’s a little received wisdom from negotiation theory. There is more than one price. There’s the asking price (the price the seller is asking) and there’s the selling price (the price the buy pays). There are any number of others but there’s also something called “the insult price”. Here’s how it works.

Seller: “I’m asking $5,000 for this rug.”

Buyer: “I’ll give $2,000.”

Seller: “How about $3,500.”

Buyer: “How about $2.”

In this case $2 is the insult price. It’s an offer so extreme that it ends negotiation.

I only have two other remarks. The first is that subsidizing those unwilling to work, a recommendation from the GND proposal, is foolishness. I’m with Paul of Tarsus (also favorably quoted by Lenin). “He who does not work neither shall he eat.” I respect the decision not to work. People should be free not to do so. We should also respect their decision enough to allow them to die as a consequence of that decision.

The other remark is that we should be very, very cautious of electing people who’ve never held any responsibilities to higher office. It’s hard for me to trust the judgment of anyone who’s never had responsibility for a child or a parent, or bought a home (with their own money), or paid off a loan, or knows how anything anything works.

9 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    I think this is part of what I was worried about. Democrats are copying Trump. Claim that you will build a wall from sea to sea and have Mexico pay for it, then settle for a few new miles. Claim that everyone will have health care and it will be better and cheaper, then do nothing. Heck, it got hum elected and it still makes his base happy. Maybe it will work for Democrats too. (Hope not.)


  • Guarneri Link

    Senator, you can have my answer now if you like……..

    Insult bids should be avoided. No-bids are better. We were dancing with a couple over the price of their home. They are locked into, and can’t come to grips with, the fact that they overpaid a short 9 months ago, and that the improvements they have made are mostly properly classified under maintenance. My wife’s primal need to prove them wrong leads her to want to bludgeon them with facts and figures and into submission. It presumes rationality. However, I have prevailed. Told them how lovely their home is, how much we enjoyed meeting them and seeing what they have done so far, but………we just don’t see a convergence of the basis for their ask – comparable list prices – and comparable sold prices, where the market cruelly speaks. And, well, there are other options. Better to shake hands and part friends. Retaining option value is of value.

    The Green New Deal amounts to an insult ask. Crazy, stupid or moving windows, its just pure and unserious nonsense. If you are serious, you don’t propose the end of nuclear, no carbon sequestration, and a hodgepodge of generally moronic social engineering platitudes. These folks did themselves no good.

    Nancy must feel like the chaperone on a high school field trip.

  • Not to mention that some of the things they say they want to accomplish are impossible with present technology.

  • TastyBits Link


    The Green New Deal amounts to an insult ask. […]

    I disagree. You need to have some (even a smattering) scientific knowledge to understand how stupid it is.

    @Dave Schuler

    Not to mention that some of the things they say they want to accomplish are impossible with present technology.

    Removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will result in an uninhabitable planet. By doing so, you would roast during the day and freeze at night.

    (For anybody wanting a citation, pick up a physics book. You can skip the math.)

  • I could make a huge list of the things not possible with present technology but I’ll settle for just one. There is presently no such thing as a green cargo ship. Cargo ships are among the world’s worst polluters. The only practical candidate for creating a green cargo ship is nuclear and they want to eliminate that, too. We would be back to sail. Billions would starve.

    To the best of my knowledge there have been four nuclear merchant ships commissioned in history and only one is still commissioned (a Russian nuclear icebreaker).

  • Ben Wolf Link

    Not one word of McArdle’s critique makes the slightest sense. “It’s real hard” and “it’s too big” are not statements of fact, they are argument from incredulity, and that is a logical fallacy.

    Furthermore, I have no idea what you’re talking about when you write “subsidizing those unwilling to work”.

  • Scan down to the bottom of the first section of this overview provided by the GND’s supporters. Or just search for “unwilling”.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    It’s in the notes but not in the resolution itself, which suggests to me someone threw it in at the last minute.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    Ok, AOC and her office have publicly stated that is an edited document that did bot come from her, her advisord or Senator Markey. If true we all owe her an apology for the nasty things we were thinking.

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