From renovating every building in the United States to ending monopolies to providing every American with affordable food and housing, the Green New Deal outlines an expansive, impractical, and costly plan to combat climate change in the United States. The outdoor clothing company Patagonia demonstrated a more feasible alternative to the Green New Deal last November when CEO Rose Marcario announced the company would donate their $10 million savings from the 2017 tax cuts to environmental causes.
Marcario made it seem as if she was “sticking it to Trump” with the donation, saying the tax cuts ignored the environment and were therefore unethical. She and others view tax cuts as an evil way for the rich at the top of the food chain to become richer, when in reality tax cuts give corporations financial freedom to do good for themselves, their employers, and even the environment.
After the 2017 tax cuts, corporations across the country gave $8.1 billion to their employees in the form of wages, bonuses, and benefits. Companies also donated $1.4 billion to philanthropic causes.
The Green New Deal claims to outline how to get an equal, fair, and green society — a socialist utopia. Besides supposedly eliminating the United States’ carbon footprint, it includes measures it asserts will provide “millions of good, high-wage jobs” and health care for all. Taxpayers — including corporations — would foot the bill for these government programs.
But if history provides any example, socialist policies create poor incentives and never reach the desired goals. Abolishing prices and the profits and losses system causes resources to be misused and misallocated, resulting in underproduction. Indeed, the underproduction of food in socialist states like the USSR and China killed more than 100 million people in the last century alone.
Socialists and free market advocates share the same end goals: job creation, productivity, freedom, and equality. It is the means to these ends that differ, and vastly so. The free market has a much better track record of making societies freer, better, and wealthier.
The success of western countries attests to this, with lower infant mortality rates, more access to education and medicine, and a higher standard of living. Socialist states, on the other hand, are more likely to fall into famine and are poorer. Think of Venezuela.
Many businesses already do their part to help the environment. The Proctor and Gamble corporation donates Dawn dish soap to care for animals affected by oil spills. Google created energy-efficient data centers, which use 50 percent less energy than the average data center does. Since 2004, Starbucks Coffee began trying to address climate change by helping their coffee bean farmers reduce their farms’ carbon footprint.
Customers with a heart for the environment are willing to pay an extra dollar for a product when they know the producer will allocate resources to environmentally friendly practices. With each purchase, the customer tells the producer to continue their eco-friendly practices. This is the market system: signaling through prices and profits. And it works without government coercion.
Not only are green business practices and private donations a more practical means of doing good, but they are less costly to taxpayers. Further, these good deeds are committed freely — not by force. And in the long run, freedom always works better than force.
Allow entrepreneurs and corporations like Patagonia the freedom to do as they will with their money, and they can do great things not only for their businesses, but also for the country and the planet.Alexis Nester is a Toledo, Ohio native and studies economics and journalism at Hillsdale College.