There are a lot of dumb takes on Twitter. But one of the dumbest lately was someone saying a Green New Deal wouldn't move unemployment because we're not a nation of laborers like we were in the 1930s.

He seemed to be arguing two things simultaneously— that public works need 'laborers', presumably manual laborers, and that “we” don't do that kind of work anymore so won't be put to work by the Green New Deal. If it were true that there were no manual labor jobs at all, maybe such jobs would be just what the 40% of people who are working age but do not have any job at all need and want. But of course there are lots of 'laborer' jobs, and lots of unemployed and unemployed laborers.

The main problem with that particular dumb take, though, was the sheer amount of ignorance embedded in it. Some correctives:

  1. The New Deal employed all sorts of people, including artists.
  2. The main problem with the New Deal employment programs is they didn't employ enough people and they ended too soon. World War II did more to put people to work, and we need a much larger effort than that. Saying a Green New Deal won't reduce unemployment because most people now are not laborers is like saying World War II won't reduce unemployment because most people in 1941 were not soldiers— people adapt to society's needs if given a chance, and any one role needs to be supplemented by work spread throughout the whole economy.
  3. If capitalism has encouraged people to develop skills that we have no need for (hint: it has), that's just one more thing we need to fix, even if that means teaching (we need more teachers and trainers too!) advertising executives how to blow insulation into old walls.
  4. But clearly, a Green New Deal at the scale needed to save both human civilization and the environment (hint the environment still has to come first) will need a huge number of technical non-manual work, and even marketers and communication people, if only to drown out dumb takes like that guy's.