Let’s Make Sure We Get the Green New Deal Right

Yves here. It would be better if I were wrong, but my impression is that Covid-19 has taken the wind out of Green New Deal efforts.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

Advocates of the Green New Deal (GND) are looking to change the way we handle a range of problems facing society, especially in the wake of environmental challenges occasioned by climate change. In response, policymakers have suggested a variety of programs designed to deal with these challenges. Should any of these be reconsidered in the wake of COVID-19? And are there lessons to be learned from the original New Deal?

The pandemic suggests that we may need to incorporate a wider and more complex range of priorities than the ones that are baked into existing Green New Deal models. Two top candidates for reevaluation due to the pandemic are questions about urban density and public transportation. Before the pandemic, the GND envisioned a world in which urban density and mass transit are more efficient and less wasteful. In a pandemic, train and bus ridership is expected to fall by 80 percent as a result of social distancing requirements—there was a 90 percent decrease in New York City subway ridership due to fear of contagion and lockdown measures. As urban theorist Richard Florida has noted, “The very same clustering of people that makes our great cities more innovative and productive also makes them, and us, vulnerable to infectious disease.”

Opponents of the Green New Deal have used the excuse that the return on investment doesn’t justify the deficits accumulated—but now that the political process has habituated itself to create trillion-dollar relief packages for society, that barrier is clearly broken.

But that isn’t the end of the fight. Equally important is to recognize that a future policy debate on the GND should not be characterized by ongoing panic-mongering and hysteria in the context of populations who are already suffering lockdown fatigue and global depression, whose biggest concerns relate to economic survival today and tomorrow, as opposed to the fate of the planet decades from now. Think of the “yellow vest” protestsin France.

In other words, the GND models need to incorporate more of our immediate social needs—better public health, infrastructure and education, freedom from punitive personal debt, and a more equitable and democratic political system—as well as national economic priorities, such as manufacturing and an end to wasteful military spending. We may need a bigger acronym.

The main question is whether the original objectives of the GND are still coincident with a new paradigm that prioritizes public health considerations, especially ones that have the potential to wreak total havoc on our economy. As governments try to grapple with the resources required to deal with a world where pandemicsmight prove to be the norm, rather than the exception, hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on medical research and technology in an effort to ward off public health crises. Urban design will play a crucial part in this effort too. But there are limits to any policy’s ability to check all the boxes and simultaneously solve health and environmental problems, all while creating employment for the working class.

And future urban design should also incorporate the advice and expertise of health officials who “can offer a fresh perspective on neighbourhood design features that promote physical and mental well-being,” according to Ken Greenberg, principal of Greenberg Consultants, a Toronto-based urban design planning firm. Greenberg goes on to suggest the need for a greater degree of redundancy incorporated into future urban planning to cope with future crises, whether occasioned by pandemics, climate change, or something else.

By no means are these easy problems to solve, especially as many things will change in the wake of COVID-19. No longer will proponents of the Green New Deal be able to rely on the binary arguments that were more clear-cut before the pandemic (i.e., mass transportation is good, cars are bad; concentrated living space that minimizes long-distance commuting is good, suburban sprawl is bad). Because in a pandemic framework, concentrated indoor living with poor ventilation facilities looks to be a health hazard and, all of a sudden, cars look to be the safest way to prevent further infection.

There are many questions to be answered with this nuanced dichotomy in mind, for example: What share of society will need to drive going forward, and what share of society won’t? What is the appropriate urban density for any given city? What is an acceptable passenger density on urban transport? What’s the attraction of a large retail mall if it has the potential to become a new vector of contagion? To pose these questions does not invalidate the case for a GND. But its supporters cannot pursue their objectives too dogmatically. Like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original New Deal, a successful GND will be characterized by a remarkable degree of experimentation and ideological flexibility.

If China is any guide, one of the perverse outcomes of the pandemic is that we may be on the threshold of a new love affair with the car. As the South China Morning Post recently reported: “China vehicle sales increased 4.4 per cent in April compared to a year earlier, as truck sales jumped 34 per cent.” The passenger vehicle is also buoyed in an economic environment that sees both gasoline and electric batteries dropping in price, and increasing efficiencies each year. Sure, the rise of remote working in the wake of the lockdown will mean some people will no longer commute, whether by car or public transportation, between city and suburb. But it is equally plausible that cars, not buses or trams, will continue to have an allure for intra-suburban commutes or just run-of-the-mill activities, such as shopping or school runs. We can expect that auto companies will continue to promote that line in the years ahead, as they too seek to recover from today’s devastating depression.

For years, there have been repeated calls by Green New Dealers to reduce carbon emissions, and open more public transit options. But, as a recent report in the Wall Street Journal observes, “keeping passengers several feet apart in buses, on train platforms and on board subways could reduce ridership by as much as 80%, according to officials and public transport companies.” That creates a conundrum: We want to avoid stuffing people into congested public transport, Tokyo style, by providing more buses, subway cars, trams, and trains, so that there’s plenty of personal space, especially during rush hour. On the other hand, the very health considerations that are driving dispersion might also make public transit less economically viable for large urban centers already coping with stressed budgetary conditions if it leads to substantially reduced ridership.

Here’s another challenge: businesses in times of pandemic will also have to consider much more flexible working hours, so everyone is not going on public transport at the same time. Measures like varying hours for each day, plus a good dose of working from home, if possible, would keep a constant flow without too much crowding. Dense urban clusters are petri dishes for pandemics. Major operations will have to consider dispersions for their offices away from the city center, some in major commuter belt communities, as some of the Wall Street banks are now looking to do. Of course, that raises additional questions posed by Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith: “What happens to Class A office space in big cities now that WeWork is a thing of the past, and white collar employers are seeking to keep as many staffers as possible working remotely?” Multi-use will have to be incorporated into any future development to alleviate this problem.

We are also likely to see additional challenges here in terms of sustaining still relatively new COVID-19 induced social norms (masks, social distancing) in the weeks ahead as large cities and tourist destinations like beaches reopen, to say nothing of the challenges of mobilizing for any cause while the coronavirus is still with us. It’s not just the virus itself we’re fighting; we also are up against misinformation of changing or unclear rules (even the CDC admitted its updates on the transmission of coronavirus from surfaces were “confusing”), public unfamiliarity on how to prevent the spread in new social and business interactions during new phases of reopening, “quarantine fatigue,” and blatant disregard for public health and struggling local businesses. Another concern as large cities like New York reopen is the possibility of increased infection rates in the wake of the recent protests against long-standing racist policing practices. No one wants to see new waves of infection—urban density is one of the factors we can change to lessen the potential spread of a pandemic.

In many respects, dispersion is consistent with existing trends that were in evidence well before the onset of the pandemic, and is likely to facilitate better health outcomes as well. To quote Richard Florida again, “Many places around the country now have bundles of amenities—renovated old buildings, coffee shops and good restaurants, music venues, and not least of all, more affordable homes—that can compete with the biggest cities. In other words, the amenity gap between superstar cities and other places has closed, while the housing-price gap has widened.” That housing gap has also contributed to chronic health challenges in major urban centers, such as homelessness, the existence of which has led to a revival of diseases like tuberculosis that have been eradicated from the rest of the population.

As a result of these trends, we are seeing a plethora of economic activity dispersing away from traditional mega-urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles, gravitating toward medium-sized cities (such as Austin, Texas, or Denver, Colorado) and rapidly growing towns (St. George, Utah; Boise, Idaho; Bend-Redmond, Oregon; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, being a few examples of the fastest growing towns in the U.S. over the past couple of years). To ensure the continued viability of larger cities, Ken Greenberg notes that they need to avoid “overdeveloping a very small part of the city’s footprint (primarily in downtown wards) at the expense of vast areas which could benefit from density.”

Many proposed reforms would be more feasible and successful if we also were to drastically reduce the resources going to the military and redirect money into massive efforts to counter future public health pandemics, to say nothing of the need for a vastly expanded public health infrastructure that isn’t rationed by income or employment. Policymakers need to find ways of addressing people’s health before they get to overtaxed intensive care units at the hospital. In practice, however, the pandemic has created the conditions for a new Cold War 2.0 between the U.S. and China, which suggests that national defense considerations will continue to dominate in discussions pertaining to national budget allocations unless a political will can build to prevent it. Given the power of America’s military-industrial complex, that appears highly unlikely. At a minimum, this part of the debate will probably have to await the conclusion of the 2020 presidential election, given the extent to which China, and its future relationship with the U.S., is already being politicized.

The broader political challenge is that we need to ensure that whatever sacrifices might be required in the next few decades over which a Green New Deal is implemented will be more than compensated for by tangible benefits and a just transition. If anything, the post-pandemic response has exacerbated, rather than mitigated, pre-existing inequality. No less than Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has acknowledged that fact. Worsened inequality is one of the factors that contributed to the recent wave of protests.

Here is the other challenge facing the Green New Dealers: there will likely be a considerable degree of voter fatigue backlash against grand new experiments in social engineering, however beneficial in the medium to long term, absent a more equitable implementation of the requisite changes. The increasing pushback in regard to the various policy responses designed to restrict the spread of the virus—notably lockdown, social distancing, and even wearing masks—gives some idea of the future political challenges for Green New Dealers. However irrational or anti-scientific, these responses also reflect anxiety, confusion, and rising economic insecurity.

As with climate change, the science of coronavirus has become politicized. U.S. President Trump and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro were among those who denied science altogether for a populist political agenda—while those who believed in science weighed social distancing orders against the understandable desire to congregate in order to protest social injustice, which in turn was sanctioned by many epidemiologists. Conflicting messaging has exacerbated division. The resultant fractures illustrate the challenges of seeking to mobilize people on the basis of a government-directed social engineering project for a sustained period of time, especially if large swaths of the electorate do not experience or perceive immediate benefits. As with climate change, addressing a challenge as big as a pandemic often means there is more short-term pain for long-term gains—which many might not be around to experience.

Many will crave a “return to normalcy,” the slogan that animated Warren Harding’s presidential campaign in 1920, when national exhaustion had set in after a world war, a sharp depression (that lasted from 1920 to the summer of 1921), and the 1918 influenza pandemic. Harding largely lived down to his election slogan, both because the flu pandemic dissipated and the economy recovered relatively quickly early in his term of office.

By contrast, the New Dealers experienced a considerably more challenging set of circumstances in the wake of the Great Depression. The original New Deal did achieve much, both in terms of economic reconstruction and creating a new model of capitalism that worked for the majority, precisely because Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the issue of economic insecurity almost immediately upon taking office and gave the electorate hope for its future. FDR didn’t just lecture or issue dire threats. Via his fireside chats, the newly elected president comforted the American people. He rightly diagnosed the problems, avoided vapid sloganeering and was therefore able to secure the confidence of the majority of the electorate (and Congress) to make the changes needed to fix a broken system.

Today’s Green New Deal is achievable, but we’re going to need a bigger acronym and a more expansive vision that incorporates many of the things we have learned during this pandemic. The likely structural changes required to offset the damage left in its wake are profound, but the burdens must be shared more equitably and the benefits dispersed more broadly, if it is to have any chance of success. Our future prosperity, indeed the future success of our democracy, depends on it.

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36 comments

  1. Christopher Herbert

    “Many proposed reforms would be more feasible and successful if we also were to drastically reduce the resources going to the military and redirect money into massive efforts to counter future public health pandemics, to say nothing of the need for a vastly expanded public health infrastructure that isn’t rationed by income or employment.” Emphasize the word ‘resources’ more. It is the resources question that must be quantified in order to redirect spending into one area versus another. What resources are used by the military? And where do we want them to be re-directed? Paying for it all isn’t even an issue for a monetary sovereign nation as large as the US. “Opponents of the Green New Deal have used the excuse that the return on investment doesn’t justify the deficits accumulated—but now that the political process has habituated itself to create trillion-dollar relief packages for society, that barrier is clearly broken.” I wish. People still compare the federal budget with their family budget.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >I wish.

      Yes instead of thoughtfully scratching their chin(s) and saying “oh I see what they are saying about how the generation of money itself doesn’t matter but how you spend it” I believe it will be used to heighten the deficit hysteria.

      I wish a really Good Communicator (not the facile Obama) could somehow get a microphone and point out that “even it they worked perfectly, the F-35, the USS Ford, the various missile defense boondoggles, are completely useless against a real threat like COVID-19”. A real illustration of printing money and then wasting “it”, that is the resources it was used to command.

      I think I secretly (revealed not even to myself) wish it really had come from a Chinese lab which would really put a fine point on this.

      Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    There are some difficult points here, and I’m not sure it is possible to give an answer to them until things settle down a little.

    First off, I don’t think the principle of a GND is gone – on the contrary, it will eventually dawn on even the right wing that the world economy will be in desperate need of fiscal boosts, and many GND features are among the quickest and most politically palatable methods of providing that boost. Certainly in Europe it seems very likely that a significant portion of any EU level rescue will involve green investment, even the centre right parties are open and (relatively) enthusiastic about this. There has also been a fundamental paradigm shift in public discussion about things like UBI and the JG. I’m really surprised at how these have become fully mainstream and how fast it has occurred (I’m not saying they will be implemented, but they are now within the Overton Window).

    Its also not clear to me at all that big dense cities in general (NY maybe an exception) have been dealt a death blow. For one thing, its becoming clear that density and public transport is not a factor in Covid spread. There is in fact almost no relationship whatever between the spread of the disease and density and/or public transport. In the UK, for example, London got off relatively lightly compared to smaller northern towns and cities – this is a pattern thats been replicated all over Europe. Even in NY, the studies I’ve seen indicates that it was the lower density outer boroughs that got hit hardest.

    I’m also not convinced that this will boost car use. The Chinese figures quoted have been distorted by a huge wave of purchases of small commercial vehicles in anticipation of another tsunami of cash for infrastructure development. But the flip side is that all over the world (certainly in Europe and South America, I’m less clear about North America or Asia), there has been a rapid move in cities and towns to reduce the number of car lanes in order to provide more pedestrian and cycling space. Even as I type this, I can hear road works close to me as contractors are busy setting out segregated bike lines on one of the main arteries into the city. The huge worldwide boom in bike and electrical scooter purchases shows that for many, this is the future of transport. Its important not to underestimate the revolution that has been underway in Europe and parts of Asia in electric boosted private transport. Many, many people are taking this option, and its one that can be implemented and facilitated with far greater speed that investments in heavy or light rail, or even express bus use.

    Office space and home working is a difficult one – my feeling is that the change won’t be as great as previously thought. Its proving very problematic for many organisations and I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes indicating that companies are finding it easier and cheaper to opt for more flexible systems rather than go the whole hog and abandon city centre offices. I suspect it will accelerate a move for suburban style low density offices, but I’m sure this change will be all that significant given other obstacles to development. Just yesterday, on one of my regular city centre ‘walkabouts’, I noticed that two big office half constructed office developments are going full speed under construction. Whoever is funding them still thinks they will rent them. Amazon just signed up to rent a major high rent city centre office for their staff here in Dublin. My guess is that we will not see a flood of big companies leaving big cities (not least because they have long leases to pay off), but we will see companies focus on high level activities in big cities, while hiving off lower level activities elsewhere – but this has been happening for some time. It still means that the big spenders will stay in NY and London and Paris, etc.

    There has been an ongoing shift from some urban areas to small / medium towns with a perception of a high quality of life and lots of cheap space. But this has been happening for some years in the US and Europe (I’m not sure its been a significant thing in Asia). But in my opinion this does not represent a flight from big cities to smaller ones, its part of a re-ordering of second and third level urban areas. Some small towns and cities have prospered because of this – others have continued to decay, despite lots of cheap housing and workshop space. This process will accelerate, but I suspect it will be more a case of some mid sized cities that are already doing well becoming big winners, others will continue to bleed.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Indeed! I have long been a proponent of sheltered bikepaths. Some could be concommitant with existing infrastructure, eg, our (Toronto) existing underground pedestrian PATH system (basically a *huge* underground shopping mall) but sheltered aboveground, or even above street level, bike ‘expressways’ are not only possible but would be quite cheap, compared to even maintaining current infrastructure for cars. Bikes would then be reliable — and pleasant — transportation in all weathers.

      Reply
    2. Adam Eran

      It’s reassuring to read your evaluation of density / transit. I’m guessing Dublin is a traditional city, with footpaths everywhere. Not so sprawl. Sidewalks often terminate without the slightest reason…other than that terminus was the end of the developed property. So sidewalks and low density sabotage transit, and make it into the red-headed orphan stepchild of modern development.

      In a bit of good news, the State of California now requires all new development to be built with “complete streets” (access for pedestrians, cyclists, etc. not just autos). That’s kind of a big deal. Add to that a focus on Vehicle Miles Traveled rather than smooth, non-congested traffic, and California’s new development should be considerably better.

      Meanwhile, sprawl short-changes investment in the public realm. Sprawl is the design counterpart to narcissism. It’s also about twice as expensive to maintain its infrastructure as compact development.

      So density promotes the public realm–everything from sidewalks to parks. I’d suggest high density *requires* a robust public realm (cf. Central Park in NY City). Otherwise it’s uninhabitable. The de-funding of the CDC’s pandemic response team is just more of that sprawl tendency to discount public goods and services (and then complain because they’re badly done, and move to privatize them).

      Anyway, the correlation between density and/or transit and increased infection rates is extremely weak. The robust public realm denser development requires may provide one explanation.

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    3. Ignacio

      I think it is quite true the feeling is changing about action in climate change, adaptation to cleaner economy etc. and although there is resistance, even conservative parties are realising this is inevitable as an increasingly large majority of the population supports these policies. It is also increasingly clear that Mr. Market by himself won’t be able to manage the transition and heavy public intervention is needed. But I feel that the tide hasn’t yet changed enough to be overwhelming and a lot of push is still needed.

      Reply
  3. Jesper

    If consumption and production are supposed to match then maybe a green deal is about reducing consumption and reducing produktion? Degrowth?

    One way to ensure this:

    The likely structural changes required to offset the damage left in its wake are profound, but the burdens must be shared more equitably and the benefits dispersed more broadly, if it is to have any chance of success. Our future prosperity, indeed the future success of our democracy, depends on it.

    might well be to focus on time instead of focusing on money. Money can be hoarded, time cannot be hoarded so if productivity was taken out as time then the benefits would be dispersed. Spend less time working for someone else, consume less.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Interesting! Even Peter Thiel can’t hoard time, as much as he is trying to. Gonna spend some time working out what this would feel like. Ystrdy as I worked in my back yard, I realized that I was hearing a sound that I have rarely heard in the 40 years I have lived in this house — laughter coming from my neighbours’ houses. People, at last the Canadians I know here in Toronto, seem to be happier than usual in our lockdown.

      Reply
  4. John B

    Alas, climate change was the one area in which I thought a Biden administration might pursue a progressive agenda, based on his announced Green New Deal Plan and the fact that climate change is a respectable issue among bankers. Whether or not that was just wishful thinking, now Biden will have to devote most of his legislative efforts in 2021 to the pandemic and economic recovery, and it’s hard to imagine the 2022 midterms will be kind to him. Biden could still do a lot with executive orders, but major Green New Deal legislation appears much less likely now.

    Reply
    1. Felix_47

      Without campaign finance reform Joe Biden and Jim Clyburn are going to do what they have done best for the last 50 years. The best measure of future behavior is past behavior. If you want to know what they think just look at their PACs. I am not optimistic.

      Reply
  5. John Steinbach

    “The broader political challenge is that we need to ensure that whatever sacrifices might be required in the next few decades over which a Green New Deal is implemented will be more than compensated for by tangible benefits and a just transition.”

    Emphasize the words sacrifices and required. As Sam Cook sang, “A Change is Gonna Come” whether wanted or not. Until Big Green stops promoting the idea that a “carbon free” BAU can continue with few lifestyle changes required, any discussion about a GND is moot. IMO this is the reason for the attacks on Micheal Moore’s film.

    Unless the inevitable radical reduction in resource use in the near future is shared broadly and equitably both within “developed” nations, and between “developed” nations and the Global South, the resulting consequences are unimaginable.

    Reply
  6. juno mas

    “But it is equally plausible that cars, not buses or trams, will continue to have an allure for intra-suburban commutes or just run-of-the-mill activities, such as shopping or school runs.”

    Even with its mild climate, the last place you want to be is in a car with others stuck in a crawl along the LA Freeway.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Yes past a certain point cars simply don’t work, even if they were given away for free. In fact it would be worse if they were given away for free, which is a whole issue I think economists should think about (I suspect some have, and have therefore been quickly banished from the Hallowed Halls of BS).

      “0” is truly such a difficult concept it took the Mayans, I believe, to invent it. Our economics profession, or again at least it’s Lords, is completely incapable of grasping it.

      Reply
  7. Susan the other

    The excesses of our civilization might be a no-brainer. Start with them. Eliminate skyscraper construction; do recycling deconstructions instead. Eliminate single-use transportation; only use a car when multiple errands and tasks can be accomplished, work from home or in the neighborhood; build good cheap bikes; promote walking; turn shopping malls into homeless villages with medical and dental and groceries on location; stop fibbing about ocean rise and deconstruct those low-lying buildings now; move to higher ground. Ration energy to the most necessary manufacturing and food production. Start with the most obvious things – not grandiose GND programs. And even more importantly – do not do business as usual; do not build luxury high rise apartment buildings at sea level; stop promoting what is clearly environmentally unaffordable. Stop consuming excessively. Be honest. The Greening will happen. Hopefully we have time.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A straightforward way to force the adoption of multi-task-per-trip car trips would be to tax gasoline enough to where it cast $10.00 or so per gallon. That would encourage more efficient car-use. (This supposes that the current fad for “electric” cars will go nowhere in the long run.)

      Of course the forced adoption of “genius” cars and “self-driving” cars will reduce the amount of car use by exactly the number of people who are too intelligent to get into a “genius” car or a “self-driving” car.

      Reply
  8. David in Santa Cruz

    Listening to my twenty-something children, it seems that the current political climate — with so many young(er) people taking to the streets — is being driven very much by insecurity caused by pandemic austerity being manifested as new-found empathy for Black people who have had to live with the austerity driven by structural racism for their entire lives. If the GND finds itself branded as a permanent state of austerity, it will fail.

    Young people, people of Color, and all people in the “Global South” want material benefits and security. Many of these people are vulnerable to what my friend Prof. Andy Szaz calls Shopping Our Way to Safety. It will be a hard sell to put them up in Le Courbusier Habitations à Loyer Moyenne à la Pruitt-Igoe, no matter how nice the bike paths and farmers’ markets are.

    The pandemic, just like climate change, is a symptom of 7.8 Billion human beings infesting our planet — up from barely 3 Billion in 1960. Until that gets fixed, the GND is simply going to be seen as putting lipstick on dystopia.

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  9. lyle

    Re mass transit, the question is do we have to have large cars or could they be compartmeded in some fashion, or as an example build a people mover ala Disneyland that has enclosed cabins that seat 4 with good ventilation. This might take moveing walkways in the boarding area for example, and would not involve the current rapid acceleration and deceleration but rather perhaps a continuous line of cabins that moves the same rate with moving sidewalks to board from.

    Reply
  10. juliania

    I’ve stopped watching “This Old House”. I used to love that program, but their emphasis on providing only the best to upper class moghuls has sickened me in recent years. That program could perform an important service if it would instead focus on livable, sustainable home environments for ordinary people that focus on the needs of the country and the world.

    The program has become truly cringeworthy.

    Reply
  11. bassmule

    Mark Blyth, from his “Angrynomics Virtual Book Talk” offers a critique of the term:

    “If you say ‘Green New Deal’ to people, 30% of the country swtiches off. Just the very term, ‘Green New Deal’ is itself politically toxic. It also says something about the lack of sort of bipartisanship and also genuine new ideas that can reach across political divides, which are very real in the United States, that the last good thing that Democrats can point to happened 80 years ago. I think the case for ‘decarbonization’ as I call it is overwhelming, but if you’re going to basically say ‘New Deal’ it throws up all these things and it’s dead before it starts.

    Link: Angrynomics – Virtual Book Talk

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      No offense, but I’m pretty sure words like ‘Decarbonization’ would also turn at least 30% of the country off, if not more. Green New Deal at least points to something that happened once that some people like. To most people ‘Decarbonization’ sounds like environmentalist pie-in-the-sky, regardless if it should or not.

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    2. Ian Ollmann

      Who actually remembers the new deal fondly? Maybe some think it is a good idea, but actually remember it first hand? If you got a job from it then, you are 110 years old now. This is why it doesn’t resonate. It has about as much emotional appeal as the Smoot-Hawley tariffs.

      They will get a lot farther just describing it as a green infrastructure program. Provided public health can be looked after, I don’t think we need a lot of handouts as much as we need good jobs for good wages for anyone who wants them.

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      1. Anarcissie

        You are ignoring the great power of myth. Not the actual history of the New Deal, but its myth, has great power, which is why the Democratic Party’s priesthood, being rather conservative, worships it. Many, many believe: the government, under Franklin D. Roosevelt, fixed the economy and then won World War 2, end of story. The New Deal also connects with the myth of Growth, which is still widely believed in, even around here. So ‘Green New Deal’ is not a bad slogan, and doesn’t require anyone to think hard about the actual difficulties that confront us. I advise keeping it.

        Reply
  12. Jeremy Grimm

    To me the “Green New Deal” as presented had far too much gloss and far far too little detail. I could never get past an image in my mind’s eye of Tenniel’s cards painting the roses red with one looking over, “Yup! Sure we can do Green. With the right paint you can cover most anything.”

    Corona is devastating and will devastate employment. I am even skeptical of all the happy talk around remote work. We went to remote work at my office some years ago as a prelude to shedding employees. I do admit it was ‘nicely’ done with a minimum of harm as far as I could see. The ‘Wise’ used the transition time to find new jobs on-site. The rest of us discovered some truth in the old saw “Out of sight — out of mind.” I retired … a little early. Unless the ‘remote’ work requires a security clearance what do US employees have to offer that might not be found far far away and perhaps more cheaply. And much secure work requires access to a safe and or To me the “Green New Deal” as presented had far too much gloss and far far too little detail. I could never get past an image in my mind’s eye of Tenniel’s cards painting the roses red with one looking over, “Yup! Sure we can do Green. With the right paint you can cover most anything.”

    Corona is devastating and will devastate employment. I am even skeptical of all the happy talk around remote work. We went to remote work at my office some years ago as a prelude to shedding employees. I do admit it was ‘nicely’ done with a minimum of harm as far as I could see. The ‘Wise’ used the transition time to find new jobs on-site. The rest of us discovered some truth in the old saw “Out of sight — out of mind.” I retired … a little early. Unless the remote work requires a security clearance what do US employees have to offer that might not be found far far away and perhaps more cheaply. Besides a lot of secure work requires access to a safe and or SCIF.

    A Green New Deal, or any other sort of New Deal will be needed to put people back to work — if our Masters determine that putting people back to work serves their best interests. At this juncture I have the distinct impression that our Masters remain quite comfortable with the prospects of high unemployment and place their faith in the ability of the Police to contain the growing unrest. The high-speed unanimous CARES Act strangled any hopes I still had that anyone in the US Government felt any concern for the Welfare of the Populace..

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      A colossal copy-paste screw-up … sorry.

      To me the “Green New Deal” as presented had far too much gloss and far far too little detail. I could never get past an image in my mind’s eye of Tenniel’s cards painting the roses red with one looking over, “Yup! Sure we can do Green. With the right paint you can cover most anything.”

      Corona is devastating and will devastate employment. I am even skeptical of all the happy talk around remote work. We went to remote work at my office some years ago as a prelude to shedding employees. I do admit it was ‘nicely’ done with a minimum of harm as far as I could see. The ‘Wise’ used the transition time to find new jobs on-site. The rest of us discovered some truth in the old saw “Out of sight — out of mind.” I retired … a little early. Unless the work requires a security clearance what do US employees have to offer that might not be found far far away and perhaps more cheaply. Besides a lot of secure work requires access to a secure work area, a safe and or SCIF.

      A Green New Deal, or any other sort of New Deal will be needed to put people back to work — if our Masters determine that putting people back to work serves their best interests. At this juncture I have the distinct impression that our Masters remain quite comfortable with the prospects of high unemployment and place their faith in the ability of the Police to contain the growing unrest. The high-speed unanimous CARES Act strangled any hopes I still had that anyone in the US Government felt any concern for the Welfare of the Populace.

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      Most of the ‘remote work’ is white collar, david graeber style ‘bullshit jobs’ that society doesn’t really need in order to survive. All the most important jobs like agriculture, construction, food processing, manufacturing, et al are things you can’t do online.

      “Place their faith in the ability of the police to contain the growing unrest” Good luck with that. With Eviction-pocalypse around the bend and the possibility of large numbers of people not able to afford food, no amount of police suppression is goiing to stop that, unless they start shooting the newly hungry and homeless people. Good luck trying to violently suppress 20% of the population. Unless most of the country has food and shelter provided for I think further unrest is unfortunately inevitable.

      This summer might end up starting to look like Judge Dredd.

      Reply
      1. Anarcissie

        One obvious solution to unemployment is to spread it around with the 6-hour day or the three- or four-day work week. If the jobs are really bullshit jobs, no one will notice. Jobs which involve substantial material work are often also bullshit jobs, like making SUVs. Surely we have enough SUVs. Six-hour week for industrial workers. Other real jobs, like nursing, farming, building maintenance, food processing: shortened work hours, hire and train more people. In any case one of the lessons of the plague has been that there is a lot of crap goods and crap services we don’t need.

        Less pay, but where does the money go anyway? Time to reset real estate, banking, the medical and education industries where much of the money flow goes to the rich for being rich. Expropriate the industries, pay the owners off with funny money, reserve ‘real’ money for the ‘real’, i.e. labor-based, economy. Alternative: as you say, public ‘disorder’.

        Reply
  13. Ian Ollmann

    Some of this misses the point. In many ways our response to CV-19 is greener than any GND would have been.

    Old commute: mass transit, high density
    New commute: stay home

    Old travel: buy carbon offsets for air travel to glam resort
    New travel: stay home, or drive somewhere closer. Camping!

    Old consumption: greener materials! Reduce bags.
    New consumption: show up to “work” in 20 year old t-shirt and shorts. Buy nothing

    Old food: we need greener farming practices for meat.
    New food: what meat? The meat plants are closed.

    Old college: $70k per year for glamor campus
    New college: $1k per year for glamor internet connection

    I think that the virus will just educate our response to global warming, and may push us to consider solutions that are even greener than we would have considered before. I frankly don’t care if you keep that 6000 lb SUV for another decade as long as it stays in the driveway. Until recently, you wouldn’t have considered it.

    We still need a GND. We just need a different and probably better GND with the virus around.

    Reply
  14. polecat

    Haven’t heard any musings coming from the mouth of St. Greta for a while now. Lost in the Fog of Covid? Burnt out from all that virtuous screamin?? Feelin the embarassing burn of (for now) cheap gasoline, and the lowly moke’s distain (as the ones who have to pay the mostest for attaining High Greeness, of course!! ..) for those hinky, conniving Globalists, Corporate Banking CONcerns, opaque and mysterious NGOs ..???

    Reply
    1. Ian Ollmann

      In my book, cheap gas — really cheap gas! — is what we need. It is a sign of low demand and is the clearest pricing signal to leave the oil in the ground, you could find. Well, that and 0 refinery / storage capacity. Once oil is out of the ground, there will be a whole cadre of people trying to figure out how to get it used, so they can get paid.

      Reply
  15. J4Zonian

    If we want civilization to survive, public mass transit is still necessary to replace flying and driving. It’s so much more efficient to build and run that there’s no other choice.

    Reply

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