West Coast governors propose green jobs to solve income inequality

Submitted: Jan 16, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The three West Coast governors, all Democrats, are proposing to join up with the government of British Columbia to form an alliance to develop more means of dealing with carbon emissions that cause global warming and create " hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new jobs in lucrative manufacturing and energy sectors."

And, incidently, pull traditionally Democratic Party counties out of the pockets of Trump and back into the loving arms of Mama Democrat, who recently experienced a mugging at the polls.

The Citylab map 1. shows clearly how poverty and income inequality has grown in the West Coast over the last 30 years, in case you hadn't noticed. This is particularly bad in the rural counties like those making up the San Joaquin Valley, which suffer high percentages of unemployment, increasing rates of mechanization and concentration of land ownership, and the worst air pollution in the US. In this area, the "heartland" of Gov. Jerry Brown's state, a collision of two malignant growths is occurring: growing income inequality and growing environmental degradation.

We wonder where the governors hope to get the massive investment funds needed to pull of this ambitious program or whether the program is just a paper of talking points for a battered Democratic Party that has lost its connection with the millions who have fallen out of the middle class of late. If anything, the Democrats seem to have retreated father into the warm nest of public employees and their unions, as city halls and county administration buildings become increasingly hostile enclaves of middle class privilege surrounded by deprivation. Observe the unhappy multitude lining up in the morning in front of county superior courts for the illustration of the times. Norman Rockwell it ain't, even in the most prosperous cow counties, because agribusiness distributes that prosperity extremely unequally.

Oxfam's latest study on the inequality of income shows that only eight men, most of them Americans and half of them from the West Coast, have as much wealth  as half the world's population. 2  

Chris Hedges' interview with head of Saul Alinsky's organization offers a different approach to poverty and income inequality, a little bit more old-fashioned: Organize. And organize money as well as people, scrap the ideological purity and get the help the community needs. In other words, it comes from the bottom, not the top, and the agenda is the actual community as it is, not the glory of the Democratic Party, viewed in this light as a social monster in its death throes, a sort of dishonest broker of votes for cash.

However, while we are waiting for whatever combination of financial and political processes are required to produce the Ultimate Green Public Private Partnership for growth, we might also consider a far simpler, older plan: a guaranteed income for the poor.4. Gar Aperovitz sets out the case for it and, lest we permit Trump and his banshees to darken the sun, we should still be able to imagine it.

--blj

 

 

 

 

1-14-17

The Hill

Western Dems look to climate to revitalize jobs messages

By Reid Wilson

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/314276-western-dems-look-to-climate-to-revitalize-jobs-messages

139

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Western states run by Democrats are aiming to use government responses to climate change as the basis for a new economic pitch to show voters the party can manage a transitioning economy.

 

State leaders are plotting aggressive new measures to tackle carbon emissions and promote renewable energy, in the face of an incoming administration that takes a skeptical view of climate change.

 

The Democrats are using the environmental policies to try to convince middle-class and rural voters they can handle an economic transition that could lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new jobs in lucrative manufacturing and energy sectors

 

“This is fundamentally a jobs message,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said during an interview in his office. “We represent a horizon of job creation that is as great or greater than any other industrial sector.”

 

That economic pitch was lacking in 2016, many Democrats said, when President-elect Donald Trump more effectively convinced voters that he would bring jobs back to areas left behind by a slow and unsteady recovery than did Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

 

All three West Coast states are run by Democratic governors, who say they plan to be at the vanguard of efforts to combat climate change even in the face of opposition from President-elect Donald Trump.

 

As part of his budget proposal this year, Inslee has asked legislators to pass a tax of $25 per metric ton of carbon emissions, which would raise an estimated $2 billion in new revenue to pay for education funding, clean energy and transportation projects.

 

In Oregon, the Democratic-run legislature has plans to consider their own cap-and-trade program. Gov. Kate Brown (D) and legislative leaders are working on a transportation package that would reduce carbon emissions, and last year Brown signed legislation that would end the state’s reliance on coal-powered electricity.

 

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) this week asked legislators to extend a cap-and-trade program beyond its current 2020 expiration date, in hopes of generating billions in revenue through statewide auctions. Much of that money, Brown said this week, would go toward paying for high-tech transportation programs aimed at lowering emissions.

 

Jerry Brown, entering the final two years of his last term in office, has pledged a particularly aggressive response to the Trump administration’s climate change skepticism. Last month, Brown proposed launching a satellite to study climate data if the Trump administration blocks such research by NOAA and NASA. Asked Tuesday whether he was serious, Brown said: “If things really get drastic, I don’t rule anything out.”

 

“I’m very optimistic that what’s going on in Washington is a pause, not a change,” Brown told reporters when he unveiled his yearly budget. “It just happens to be a political pause that will not sustain itself in the face of science.”

 

Together, the three states and British Columbia in Canada have formed the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a joint plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. 

 

California passed legislation last year that will require the state to generate 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030; Oregon passed a law requiring it to hit the 50 percent renewable mark by 2040.

 

“We will remain masters of our own destiny when it comes to carbon, and if anything it’s a rationale for speeding up our efforts due to the fact that we can’t depend on the White House or Congress,” Inslee said.

 

Republicans say the Democratic focus on a changing climate has little impact in a world in which China, India and other emerging economies continue emitting carbon at a rapid clip. They’ve hammered Democrats for focusing on climate change rather than on jobs for middle class Americans.

 

“We’ve lost many, many jobs as a result of [cap and trade]. We’ve brought in more boatloads of supplies, resources and fuels from China and other places. I’m not sure whether we’re curing climate change or just displacing it,” said California state Sen. Jean Fuller, the Republican leader. 

 

“I would go back and actually study whether any of this is making a difference worldwide, or just costing California a lot of jobs and a competitive disadvantage in business.”

 

But Democrats say they hope to use climate issues, and the renewable energy issues that go along with them, to convince blue-collar and rural workers of a new path forward.

 

“No one votes for polar bears. People care about local, human issues, period,” said Tom Steyer, the former hedge fund manager who has spent tens of millions of dollars on environmental issues and Democratic causes in recent years. “On an economic basis, acting on clean energy is positive in every single fashion, including creating millions of net good jobs.”

 

The economic message Trump pitched during the campaign resonated, Democrats said, because of a legitimate angst among rural voters whose jobs in manufacturing, mining and — especially on the West Coast — timber have disappeared.

 

After years of job losses, thanks to a waning timber industry and a global crash in commodity prices, Trump won several counties in all three states that Democrats have carried for years, most of them former bastions of Democrats’ union base. Trump won nine counties that touch the Pacific Ocean, more than even Ronald Reagan’s eight in 1984.

 

“We are an economy and a nation in transition, and it is for multiple reasons. It is a technological transition, it is a resource-based transition,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in an interview in his office. 

 

“I don't think that we should be stunned that when you have the total displacement of millions of jobs by technology that you will not have some degree of concern, backlash, transition on issues and demographics. That's what we're going through.”

 

 

 

NOTES:

(1)

Richard Florida, "America's Economic Distress Belt," Citylab, Jan. 3, 2017 

 (2)

1-16-17

 Oxfam

An Economy for the 1%

Author: 

Deborah Hardoon (Deputy Head of Research, Oxfam GB), Sophia Ayele & Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Executive Director of Oxfam Mexico)

 (3)

Chris Hedges,  "Building the Institutions for Revolt," Truthdig, Jan. 15, 2017.

(4)

Gar Alperovitz, "Technological Inheritance and the Case for a Basic Income," Economic Security Project, Dec. 16, 2016.  

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