By Karen Perkins
The Green New Deal gets its name from the New Deal programs of the 1930s. President Franklin Roosevelt initiated a series of programs and policies to reverse the economic devastation of the Great Depression. The “New Deal” programs stabilized the economy. Further, it brought an end to the severe depression and suffering of unemployed Americans.
Roosevelt’s New Deal Addressed A National Crisis
Such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage and many others, led to the growth of a thriving middle class. One of its key programs was the creation of 15 million government jobs enabling families to keep paying their mortgages and pay their bills. It also saved many from a loss of self-esteem often created from languishing idle while taking a government handout. Just as importantly, it also retrained workers to do all kinds of important contributive work, ranging from such important infrastructure projects as building the Hoover Dam to control the Colorado River, to building the National Parks we now enjoy.
Fast forward to today. We certainly have a lot of unemployed Americans.
The Covid-19 Pandemic Created A New National Crisis
In fact, at the height of the Depression the unemployment rate was 24.9%. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently estimated the rate today could get as high as 25%. What can be done to save the suffering of so many workers? Could they be employed to do things that would not only help with the coronavirus crisis we are in, like contact tracing positive test results, but things that would also lessen, even reverse, the catastrophic future of the climate crisis? Scientists tell us we have a limited window of opportunity. We are witnessing more and more dire results from cataclysmic hurricanes, fires and floods.
Unemployed people could “build the infrastructure needed to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
The Green New Deal Proactively Addresses the New Crisis and Climate Change
Workers could “dramatically expand and upgrade renewable power sources.” Such a program could deploy “new capacity, build or upgrade to energy efficient, distributed and ‘smart’ power grids and ensure affordable access to electricity.” Other workers “could upgrade all existing buildings in the United States and build new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, rate efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort and durability including through electrification.”
Workers in rural areas could “work collaboratively with farmers and ranchers to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.” Agricultural programs would support family farming and invest in “sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health and build a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.” Another program could overhaul the transportation systems – it goes on and on.
The Green New Deal identifies these, and many more, ideas in its 14 pages. It is House Resolution 109 and Senate Resolution 59. The House of Representatives passed Res. 109. The Senate, however, voted against Res. 59. It’s easy-to-read. It also explains the need for the Green New Deal. Furthermore, it lists all the ways we can save the human race and all life species to live on a planet with far less environmental, economic and social injustices. With a mobilization like that of the 1930s, it is imperative that we begin right now. The Sierra Club is one of many organizations with information about the Green New Deal.
Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, May 27, 2020. Email Karen Perkins at email@example.com