We Need a Green New Deal

As I campaign up and down the 36th congressional district, I hear the same question over and over- What are you going to do to create jobs?  I tell people that I will continue to work for a “Green New Deal”, modeled after the New Deal of the Great Depression.  With approximately $200 billion left over from the $700 billion Wall St. bailout, known as TARP, we have an opportunity to use the bailout money for the common good, namely to invest in a sustainable economy.

While some banks may be reticent to accept the TARP funds, the aerospace industry is not.  It’s association has explicitly asked for $6 billion to create new jobs.  This is of particular interest to me because aerospace is anchored in the South Bay of the 36th district.  I say give aerospace the billions to create jobs in the new Green Economy.  We need the engineering know-how and skilled labor force of the aerospace industry to build rapid transit and develop solar & wind resources that will make us energy independent.

Yes, it is time to expand the reach of aerospace.

Google “Top Ten Green Jobs of the Future“, and you’ll read about the need for organic farmers, solar panel installers, wind turbine developers, energy-efficiency builders, waste recyclers, mass transit engineers, hydrologists, urban planners, electric and hybrid car manufacturers, and drought-resistant landscapers.

We need a Green New Deal that would fund jobs both in the public and private sector in order to:

1.  Develop renewables in solar and wind.

2.  Build light rail in all the major metropolitan areas, particularly sprawling Los Angeles

3.  Repair our aging infrastructure, i.e. ports, bridges, water & sewer treatment facilities

Congress would be wise to model a new job stimulus package after a proven program:  the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was the 1935 Roosevelt Depression brainchild that employed an estimated 10 million Americans building 850 airports, 110,000 libraries, schools, and hospitals, 500 water treatment plants, 78,000 bridges, and 8,000 parks.  The WPA also employed writers and artists, many of whom painted murals in post offices, like the San Pedro post office on Beacon Street, where inside the Art Deco building of marble and chrome we find a WPA mural depicting the history of the harbor.

Obama’s first recovery plan, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act, funded “shovel-ready” jobs, such as storm drain clean up, energy retrofits, and highway repairs.  The President’s second recovery plan, beginning with the leftover TARP funds, must invest in future industries with large pay-offs in terms of career-path learning and earning opportunities in the Green economy.  put laid-off Boeing missile defense workers back on the job, building electric buses for the future.  Put college professors back to work in Green Energy Departments at universities across the country.  Put steelworkers back to work building solar panel parts now outsourced to China.

But, how are going to pay for this Green New Deal?

Cut the fat in the bloated military budget, a sacred cow that is larger than all the world’s military budgets combined, and reemploy the workforce in the Green economy.  Bring our troops home from the trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and honor our veterans with land and lessons in organic farming.  Levy a 25-cent tax on every stock transaction on Wall Street and offer stock brokers opportunities to create real wealth by developing credit unions that never heard of a sub-prime loan.

Close the corporate loopholes that hide billions in bank vaults in the Caribbean, and use the cash to hire artists and musicians to inspire our young.  Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and employ doctors and nurses to work in the inner city.  End the War on Drugs with its obscene prison costs and recruit counselors to open mental health clinics.

When President Roosevelt enacted the New Deal, one of out of every four Americans was out of work.  Today, in California, though the official unemployment rate is over 12%, the real unemployment rate, the one that includes the underemployed and those who have given up looking for a job, is pushing 20%.

Mr. President, Congress, let us look to the past, and to the future, and celebrate a Green New Deal.

 

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