I read a blog I found out about recently from the writer himself (he commented on this blog in the past). His name is Peder.
His blog feels very similar to mine, except he’s from the US.
His post, recently, was about economic “happenings” in the US, and about the beliefs of a man named Van Jones, founder of Green For All…a green-collar-job promoter.
I am simply borrowing his post, forwarding it to you, and in the same breath, informing you of his blog address and encouraging you to check it out.
That’s the address. Visit often. And thanks Peder for writing about this Oakland-based inspiration.
Here’s Peder’s post:
“A recent article by syndicated New York Times columnist David Brooks got me thinking about the way our government has been spending our money. We’re all aware of the $700+ billion package intended to loosen credit markets which has done little of that up to now. As if that’s not enough, President-elect Obama has stated his desire to see further short-term stimulus packages, either in the final months of Bush’s term or the first months of his own.
This year our federal spending has increased 13.8% over last year, driven in large part by an 18% increase in military spending (bottom of linked article). In spite of this historic credit and economic crisis, the US government has no problem spending money, and will borrow without apparent limit to do so.
But the spending is misplaced. Over the last five weeks the financial sector bailout money has paid for executive bonuses and lavish corporate conferences, and funded the purchase of other banks. It has not loosened up credit markets or relieved individuals’ financial stress, in spite of a recent spat of historic interest rate cuts. The lesson: Banks are greedy. Greenspan has admitted he underestimated this reality. And it’s time for us to quit giving all our [future generations’] borrowed [Chinese] money to them.
Really, we should probably be saving our money right now; tightening our belts, spending less and saving more. But if we’re going to spend it anyway (and this is the point of the David Brooks piece) let’s spend it on something with a lasting, long-term legacy for our nation. Brooks says we should spend it on a National Mobility Project, which has merit; he cites good reasons in his article. But I have another idea.
I’d like to introduce you to Van Jones. If you haven’t yet heard of him, he’s an Oakland-based activist, author and founder of Green For All, an organization that promotes “green-collar” jobs and opportunities for the disadvantage. He’s a very talented speaker and motivational leader. In a series of blog posts published by the Huffington Post, Mr. Jones proposes a series of investment priorities into electricity production and building retrofitting programs which will (1) reduce our energy consumption and reliance on foreign-produced, carbon-emitting fuel sources, and (2) provide jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors that can employ disadvantaged and lower-educated individuals, and cannot be outsourced or taken overseas. (Unfortunately, ever the salesman, Van’s posts come across as sales-oriented. His either selling his book or his foundation’s program.) Nonetheless, this video will let you hear his ideas in his own words:
His ideas, and the concept of green-collar job creation in general, remind one of FDR’s Public Works Administration, and Jones cites several studies which point to the potential upside to spending that amounts to fractions of what has already been promised by the government in the 3rd quarter of 2008. It’s important to note that the bailout bill passed about a month ago did include some provisions that support clean tech. But they amount to tax policy. I’m talking about an investment program. As you can see below there are many options here, all of which improve our energy efficiency and create jobs.
- The big one: The Apollo Project. $500 billion, 5 million jobs, 3 years
- US Conference of Mayors can create 4 million jobs [PDF]
- The Political Economy Research Center & The Center for American Progress says we can create 2 million jobs in two years for $100 billion [PDF]
- Van’s own Clean Energy Corps can create 120,000 new jobs/year with a $3 billion investment fund
It is important to note that government subsidy has to be viewed as a stimulus, not as an income source. That is, before implementing any spending we need to define return on investment projections and set time limits on these expenditures. We can use our money to prime our economic pump, but we need to ensure it addresses the problem it’s intended to solve, has reasonable ROI expectations and lasts a finite period of time. By my count the economic bailout of October 2008 misses on the first two points. And it’s costing us a lot of money. To alleviate the ruin we’ve wrought so far, the best of what I’ve read says we need to require US banking institutions take the money we’ve given them and feed it directly into credit markets.
And if we’re going to spend more money, then let’s invest in this green-collar revolution. To me it just makes good business sense, and it seems we could use some of this in Washington right now.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Which is why I copied Peder’s post in the first place.