The Green New Deal

We are now facing an existential crisis that has been called "Global Warming".  We have now reached the point where we have to call this "Climate Emergency".  There is a proposal to address climate emergency called the "Green New Deal".

The Green New Deal sets out some very ambitious 10 year goals.  The following is a quick summary.

  • Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Create millions of good, high-wage jobs.
  • Invest in infrastructure to sustainably meet challenges of the 21st century
  • Secure for generations to come:
    • Clean air and water
    • Climate and community resiliency
    • healthy food
    • access to nature
    • sustainable environment
  • Promote justice and equity for all
  • Take info account complete environmental and social costs to ensure frontline and vulnerable communities are not adversely affected
  • Provide resources, training, high quality education, including higher education.
  • Continue to make public investments in research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies.  I believe we have been doing this since Jimmy Carter's presidency, but we can do more.  Perhaps we can even re-deploy DOD research facilities to work on renewable energy.
  • Direct investments to spur economic development.
  • Administer the Green New Deal at a local level.
  • Ensure the Green New Deal creates high-quality union jobs at prevailing wages.  It should offer training, advancement opportunities and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition.
  • Guarantee a job with family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security to all people of the United States.
  • Strengthen and Protect the right of all workers to organize, unionize and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation and harassment.
  • Stop the transfer of jobs and pollution overseas.
  • Grow domestic manufacturing in the United States.
  • Ensure a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition.

Ten years is a little optimistic (and I usually underestimate schedules), but we don't know until we try.  There are tradeoffs between cost and how long it takes.  Also, if we train too many people, we have a problem when the job is done.

All of this is important, but I believe the Climate Emergency should be addressed first.  This will, by necessity, create jobs and secure a number of the other goals if we do it right.  In addition to greenhouse gas reduction, the mobilization has to prioritize employing displaced fossil fuel industry workers, and assisting Americans whose homes or livelihoods have been destroyed by Climate Disaster.  The good news is that a lot of this is already happening, but we need a Federal Government that will help, not hinder the effort!

The next most important thing to do is to increase the minimum wage to $18 per hour -- Yes, inflation has been marching along -- $15 per hour was the right number for 2015, not now.  And we should tie the minimum wage to the CPI in the future. 

The third initial step is to start reforming health care by rolling out a Medicare for All option on the ACA exchanges.  To get this up and running as fast as possible, it should be an incremental rollout starting with the exchanges that have the least competition from private insurers.  We should also allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices using the same purchasing rules as every other Federal agency:  Either competitive bidding or lowest price charged any other purchaser.

We pay for this using the tried and true economic policies of the 20th Century Presidents who molded America into the world leader it is today:  Dwight D. Eisenhower and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  They had the political courage to ask the wealthy in this country to pay their fair share of the expenses.   We also can restructure capital gains taxes to incentivize private industry to achieve some of what needs to be done.

The Climate Emergency is a unique period in history where it is our elected representatives will be dealing a lot with technology:  We need at least some representation with the ability to actually understand technology -- You just can't legislate the laws of physics and you can't negotiate the rules of mathematics!