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The Green New Deal, by 'Green Change'

by fairleft Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 08:09:05 PM EST

On July 7, Green Change launched its campaign for a Green New Deal. (I first found out about it on Firedoglake's 'The Seminal'.) Their ten proposals would shatter the earth as we know it (in a good way).

Green Change's new campaign: the Green New Deal

. . . The Green New Deal is our answer to the economic and ecological problems facing communities around the world.

The Green New Deal is a platform of policies aimed at creating broadly shared economic prosperity and effecting the transition to a sustainable civilization. . . .

Sign onto the Coalition for a Green New Deal today.

Here's what you endorse by joining the Coalition for a Green New Deal:


1.  Cut military spending at least 70%.

2.  Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation.

3.  Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them.

4.  Establish single-payer "Medicare for all" health care.

5.  Institute tuition-free public higher education.

6.  Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards.

7.  End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana.

8.  Enact tough limits on credit card interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation.

9.  Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.

10. Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reforms.

Put into action, the above would be planet-transforming in all sorts of positive ways. Of course, the Green New Deal doesn't take a position on every issue; it is not quite everything you'd like to see in a great green left platform. But, if any politician signed onto the ten I hope you'd have a very hard time not supporting him or her. Even if, by signing on, his or her forehead would be branded 'unelectable' by the anti-populist, economic elite-owned media.

But it's time, everyone, it's way past time to start backing the politicians who advance the positions we agree with and not the ones with the slightly-less-stomach-turning points of view compared to his two-party-system competitor. Finally, let's start voting for the people we agree with! Who knows, it might work? The old way, of choosing between the offerings of the two big money parties, has long worked against us; all of us should have awakened to that in the last several years of bipartisan support for endless colonial-style wars and gigantic bailouts of the financial elites. I assume and hope that for many of us these last few years were the last straw.

Where it goes from here I don't know, but I like the Green Change approach and its positions. Let's lend our support and see what happens; sign on like I did.

And, if you want to subtract, add, or modify the the list of ten, let's talk about it here! (You can also talk about it at Green Change's blogsite.)

To start the kibbitzing out, if I could I would change

7.  End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana.


7.  Decriminalize marijuana and otherwise treat drug abuse and addiction as a public health rather than a criminal matter.

I think my suggestion sounds more caring than 'too radical', and it would change our 'frame' for looking at the entire drug war; changing that basic way of looking at drugs and drug abuse may be the only way (in the U.S., at least) we'll ever get most politicians to support legalization/decriminalization even of the least harmful illegal drug, marijuana. Also, I think the sort of campaign Green Change is embarking on is very important as a frame changer for undecided voters, and should not just be a list of good ideas that already have strong supportive constituencies. (By the way, I hope it's clear both the old and new "7." is about legalization and so on for adults.)

I also would modify

5.  Institute tuition-free public higher education.


5.  Increase funding for public education by 50%, make funding equitable across schools, and make the first two years of higher education tuition-free.

My suggestion focuses mainly on the K-12 education crisis in the U.S. Strategically, also, for me free tuition for all four years of college on first impression seems class-biased, focused too much on benefiting an already relatively well-off upper-middle-class.

Well, you can't always get what you want, and I've signed on to the Green New Deal despite my carping. I hope lots of people here do too. (Whether you're a U.S. citizen doesn't matter, I don't think.)

Is this Sweden disguised as some new green sociopolitical system?

by shergald on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 10:16:58 PM EST
Well, yeah, the old Sweden of a couple decades ago, before it went in for neoliberalism. Why not?

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 10:40:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that's not so clear. Before neoliberalism swept Sweden, there was significant military spending, energy policy focused on nuclear and electric heating rather than renewables and efficiency; and the Swedish banking crisis was just about to hit. Conversely, Sweden stayed free of tuition fees even when neoliberalism hit, only the present right-wing government moved to introduce them (for non-EU nationals only, from 2011).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:59:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I should've said 30 years ago: time does fly.

Nuclear energy along with renewables should be a key part of an anti-global warming energy policy, IMHO, and the Swedish banking crisis was the result of 1980s deregulation that the Green New Deal is dead set against.


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 11:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was always impressed by this study from Canadian Council on Social Development published March 8, 2002. It is hard to read, but it is a comparison of various indicators of economic and social well-being between Canada, the US, and Sweden. If it is looked upon as a general index of socialism, then certainly Sweden just eight years ago still bested the US and Canada. The data sources are not included but available via the link.

Legend (read down):              

1. Income per Person (%US)
2. Poverty Rate
3. Child Poverty Rate
4. Employment Rate
5. Unemployment Rate
4.0% (data from Clinton's last years)
6. Working Long Hours
7. Low Paid Jobs
8. Earnings Gap
9. UI Benefits as % Earnings
10. Jobs Supports (%GDP)
11. Unionization Rate
12. Health Care (Public Share)
13. Tertiary Education (Public Share)
14. Private Social Spending
15. Life Expectancy (Men)
16. Life Expectancy (Women)
17. Infant Mortality/100,000
18. Homicides per 100,000
19. Assault/Threat per 100,000
20. Prisoners per 100,000
21. Adults/Post Secondary Ed.
22. High Literacy (% Adults)
23. Low Literacy (% Adults)
24. Grade 12 Math Score
25. Voter Turnout

As we've all heard ad nauseam, Canada lags behind the USA in terms of productivity. But how are we doing in when it comes to our social performance? In the afterglow of our gold-medal victories over our neighbours to the south, it seems timely to present a scorecard.

The bottom line? Canada beats the U.S. hands down on most social indicators, but we still fall well short of the Swedes. So there's reason for pride, but not for complacency.


So whatever Sweden is doing in the private sector today, it seems to have had, at least eight years ago, a strong public socialist sector. Just look at the stat on union membership. Far cry from the US and Canada.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 09:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That unionization rate is wonderful. How to greatly increase union membership in the U.S. is a tricky problem, but somehow that needs to happen. Any great changes would be very temporary unless you transform the power imbalance between corporations/wealth and the average working people. Unions are the only way to do that, I think.

But, for the list, I don't know how to make a pithy '11' that would make the above happen.


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:02:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Empower employees by demanding that half of all voting seats on the board of a limited liability corporations be elected by secret ballot of the company's employees. One man, one vote.

Amend the constitution to prohibit breaking picket lines targeting companies that have employees not covered by collective agreements and enshrining the sympathy strike as a legitimate expression of the right to free association and peaceful assembly.

Either of those should do the trick.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 30th, 2010 at 06:57:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting how the only outlier is this:

21. Adults/Post Secondary Ed.
Canada: 38.8%
U.S.: 34.9%
Sweden: 28.0%

Or is it an outlier?


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:27:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe someone from Sweden will respond. But I think there is an rational explanation and that this finding is probably not an outlier.

Is it possible that because of the strong unionism in Sweden that more youth go into trades rather than into college based occupations?

Interesting question.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know that in Japan 'post-secondary education', if it included technical schools and similar, would be 70-80%, but if it only counted 4-year colleges would be around 20-25% or so. As it should be. So, perhaps there are some people getting post-secondary educated, maybe in corporate apprentice programs, who are not counted in the official stats.

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, "As it should be" is supposed to refer to "70-80%" not "20-25%."

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on their definitions. Prior to the Bologna process, Scandinavian and Anglo-American educational systems were not really comparable.

In Denmark, which is not so different a story from Sweden, we had a hair over 15 % who had finished a post-secondary education if you don't count craftsmen (Statistics Denmark, Tables HFU1 and BEF5), or just over 38½ % of the population if you do count craftsmen (ibid.).

So if I had to make an educated guess, I would say that North American and Scandinavian traditions draw different lines between craft school and post-secondary education, and they didn't bother to harmonise their definitions properly. But without having read the original study it's just a guess.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 30th, 2010 at 07:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good sign. Here's their top four news stories right now:

Obama plans to boost spending on nuclear weapons

Big Coal's new Democratic US Senator blasts climate change legislation

Did Democratic leaders try to buy a House seat with a $25 billion nuclear bailout?

Obama hasn't kept his promises on scientific integrity


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sat Jul 17th, 2010 at 10:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
7.  Decriminalize marijuana and otherwise treat drug abuse and addiction as a public health rather than a criminal matter.

I'd agree to that.

Strategically, also, for me free tuition for all four years of college on first impression seems class-biased, focused too much on benefiting an already relatively well-off upper-middle-class.

How so? On one hand, tuition fees in general, when they have merit-based exceptions, are sold as socially more fair, yet studies show that it is still the lower classes who find the risk or the associated bureaucratic steps too much and are held back. On the other hand, if the state wants its education money back, it can raise taxes on high-earners. Tuition fees are reactionary and advocated by conservatives and neoliberals only in Europe.

2.  Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation.

And massive investment into mass transit is worth its name only if massive investment into new electric fixed-guideway transport networks at multiple levels is  at its centerpiece -- buses aren't enough, simple maintenance of old networks is nothing, one tram route in a city of 3 million is too little.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:50:28 AM EST
then more working class kids would go to college, hence it would not "[benefit] an already relatively well-off upper-middle-class."

which is, of course, why we have such high college tuitions, to shut out working class and increasingly middle class students from higher education's benefits.

free tuition would go a long way to improving the dynamic of teaching on campus as well; when people pay a lot for tuition, the whole process gets uncomfortably transactional, a service provided for a fee (and with a few students, the expectation of grades as a commodity).

finally, making tuition free would be a huge relief for many middle class families, who currently go into a huge amount of debt to pay or their kids' education. as such, it'd also cut into the profit margins of banks offering college loans.

by wu ming on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:31:47 AM EST
I put up some stats above about Sweden's free college education but also their high tax rates, perhaps the highest in the EU. But the Swedes benefit from those tax rates in many other ways, as can be seen from their comparison to the US and Canada.

Problem is: raising taxes is the third rail of politics in the US. We are dying from deficits in Michigan because the Republican state electorate refuses to raise taxes. It's has become an instrument of political suicide.

We're in a fix and we just don't know how to get out of it.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 11:02:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In answer to both you and DoDo, part of my take on U.S. college education is below, in a response about this diary at another site.

Also, it would be absurd to recommend exactly the same ten big ideas upon Europe as you would for the U.S., both for strategic reasons (the immediate impression the ideas make on average voters) and because the U.S. and Europe are very different places. Not an expert, but there are many differences between U.S. and European higher education. For example, I'm always surprised how Euros basically don't have law school: they've finished with that classroom stuff by the end of their four years of college, in fact they're already transitioning out of the classroom and into law firm life (through internships) well before the four years of college is finished. But a person who wants to be a lawyer in the U.S. has done virtually nothing practical and 'real' toward that practical goal at the end of his/her four years of college. The scam here is to greatly delay actually getting on with life, in order to maximize time we all are forced to spend in the education system. My sense is that the four years of college in Europe has a much stronger practical bent, in part because much of 'liberal arts' education has already been transmitted to students during high school. And, that being the case, its more attractive to the average voter when the state pays for four years of advanced, specialized 'job prep' rather than four years of basic liberal arts education (that people should've gotten in high school) and 'farting around'. (Even in Europe, it's a lot of money to spend on a lot of people whose families can afford to pay for most of their kids' education.)

Also, strategically, the four years for free would hit many or most American voters as too large a benefit mainly for the upper-middle class and wealthy (who then go on to greatly enhance their lifetime incomes because of that large benefit). And, free tuition would not mean that suddenly the middle, upper-middle-class, and rich kids character of college would change, and lots of working class and poor kids would go to four-year colleges. There would still be admissions standards and limited spots and the expense of supporting yourself for those four years. And the solution is not 'everyone should go to four years of college'. Please no, not that, not four years of U.S. college education!

Anyway, that leads into my other thoughts:

College is so overrated   (5.50 / 2)

Discrimination based on college ejucation needs to be eliminated. If you can do the job you shouldn't be barred from any job cuz you don't have a college education.

I realize a lot of us had a real good time in those four years, but in many ways it's a social process that extends childhood, unreasonably and sort of uncomfortably, until you're in your mid-twenties (if you do the grad school thing). I guess life after you get out of school does suck, but the solution is not this endless education but improving life after graduation.

And I'm not arguing against liberal arts education, just against the sheer quantity (assuming it begins, or should begin, in the first years of high school).

Anyway, the above is my take, which underlies 'two years is enough'.

by: fairleft  @ Sat Jul 17, 2010 at 21:38:08 PM CDT



by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 11:45:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a time when college education was free, except for a few hundred in fees per semester, in California and Hawaii and there was no residency requirement or if there were, it was brief.

I wonder if anyone has taken the time to evaluate the effect of this free higher education on local economies.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 12:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if anyone has taken the time to evaluate the effect of this free higher education on local economies.

wasn't the G.I. bill the poster child for this?

i support any higher ed. that doesn't widen class differences, and feel that the present education systems need to become much more practical. in morocco students are taught to work cement, plaster and the like along with academic brain work. this leads to much more grounded people. pedagogy research needs the kind of funding that the military enjoys access to, in order to have discriminating democratic electorates, ubiquitous critical thinking, and fertile ground for future innovation and creativity.

great diary fairleft, thanks. nice to see you shergald, participating in diverse subjects too. your comments add value to these threads.

this ten point manifesto is eminently supportable, imo...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 01:23:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On education in the U.S., we need to restore a practical training track to high schools. They were largely eliminated in the 70s and 80s, under 'everyone is gonna go to college anyway' neo-progressivism. Besides actually helping students get good jobs in the real world after high school (or, preferably, another year or two of post-high school training/internship/apprenticeship), this would also I think greatly decrease the huge drop-out rate, and more students would get more of the liberal arts, environmental, history, and social studies classes that all high school kids should be required to take.

But there are so many problems, from my perspective, this just scratches the surface. More needs to be demanded of American students in junior high and high school. From an American perspective, Europeans are already doing what we think of as 'college work' in the last two or three years of high school.

But demanding more from students, in fact almost everything that we need, runs up against the inequality problem here. A lot of students work part time, a lot of times have to work part time, and don't have the time or energy to work hard during high school.


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're correct about the effect of the GI bill on higher education as many ex-soldiers probably would not have been able to make it without it.

Most states were not like California and Hawaii, and did charge tuition and fees and for boarding and feeding students. The GI Bill made the difference, and it was a time when we still had the draft in the US.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 03:56:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
from what i understand, it permitted more to claw their way out of the working class than anything had before.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 05:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To tell the truth, there was nothing wrong with being part of the working class in the US if you were in a union, especially in the auto industry. The wages and benefits were as much as you might make as a college educated person, depending on the area you majored in.

Still, the stats did suggest that you were likely to earn more if you had a higher education, and still do.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:46:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The wages and benefits were as much as you might make as a college educated person, depending on the area you majored in.

this was a golden age for those who had been working in the southern cotton fields and who went up to man the factories during america's zenith of heavy industrial expansion, in the wake of ww2 which had brought global competition to its knees.

theoretically, all this production could be switched to rail and alt energy, and provide good steady jobs for people to climb into the middle class, save for their kids' college etc.

but i think the mentality has changed, and first worlders all want to be in clean cubicles, not down in the assembly lines. plus the ad-aganda has demolished the idea of saving-as-virtue, and extolled living beyond one's means, on the never-never. (a phrase for 'hire-purchase' from 50's england).

my feeling is that factories should be nice places to work, clean, airy and light, but that would cost more and cut into profits. (short termism).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 19th, 2010 at 12:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the mid-70s you still paid about $600 a year to go to a UC school. It was even cheaper to go to the state college system and basically free to go to the junior colleges. By the late 70s that was all rapidly disappearing.

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 02:18:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be correct about that, as it was the 1960s that gave students the free rides in CA and Hawaii.

by shergald on Sun Jul 18th, 2010 at 03:50:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We legalized "medicinal" MJ here in Colorado recently, and it's been a pretty wild ride ever since. Apparently the business to be in green ink supplier, since the back pages of the newspapers are filled now with dispensary ads.

There is already concern about industrialized production and big outfits monopolizing the market..

by asdf on Thu Jul 22nd, 2010 at 09:42:13 PM EST

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