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September 2010, Week 3

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Thu, 16 Sep 2010 22:32:49 -0400
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The United States Needs a Green New Deal

by Marcy Winograd

War Is A Crime.org

Submitted by the author May 14, 2010

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/52250

My talented young cousin works as a rocket scientist at a
local aerospace plant. She considers herself one of the
lucky MIT grads who landed a job in the space end of the
aerospace industry.

Her friends, however, are designing drones that sometimes
miss their terrorist target, accidentally bombing innocent
brides and grooms in Afghanistan.

My cousin tells me about a colleague of hers, a drone-
builder, who had a nightmare; she accidentally droned her
own bedroom.

"She's still designing these drones, though," my cousin
tells me. "That's where the money is, the jobs, in military
contracts, in building sophisticated weapons systems."

What if our engineers, now building weapons, could build
solar cities instead? Under the Solar America Initiative,
Boeing started the ball rolling, contracting with the
Department of Energy to make solar energy competitive with
conventional electricity by 2015.

Aerospace conversion could happen - and should for the sake
of our planet.

Flying 100,000 troops to a far off land to fight an ever-
morphing enemy leaves a huge carbon footprint; bombing
cities and then rebuilding them emits a carbon monster.

Some might argue the carbon cost is necessary to protect
national security, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to
determine that war and occupation multiply our enemies.

Plus, war is not job smart. In 2007, University of
Massachusetts economic researchers found a billion dollars
invested in mass transit generates twice as many jobs as the
same billion invested in military contracting.

Future economic recovery plans should offer explicit career-
path transitions from a permanent war economy to a new green
economy. Pay people to retool.

Train laid-off missile defense workers to build wind farms.
Offer federal contracts for aerospace firms to fortify the
Vincent Thomas Bridge. Invest in health care, education and
cleanup at the Superfund sites in Torrance.

President Barack Obama recently signed an $18 billion jobs
bill with payroll tax breaks for businesses, as well as tax
credits for companies hiring the unemployed and purchasing
new equipment. The bill invests billions in federal highway
construction and mass transit. Optimists predict the
legislation could generate 250,000 jobs.

Not bad, but not great either, given that America has lost
8.4 million jobs since the start of this recession.

Congress would be wise to model a new green-job stimulus
package after the Works Progress Administration, 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 artists to paint murals in post offices, like the
San Pedro post office on Beacon Street where a WPA mural
depicts the history of the harbor.

Can we afford a super stimulus? Critics lament the growing
deficit, estimated to climb to $1.6 trillion this year. But
these same critics rarely talk about the elephant in the
room: our bloated near-trillion-dollar military budget that
siphons much-needed resources from our daily needs.

Take housing, for example. According to the Center for
Responsible Lending, our congressional district suffered
7,000 foreclosures in 2009. Over the next four years, the
center predicts 25,000 homeowners from West Los Angeles to
the harbor will lose their homes to foreclosure.

Freeze the foreclosures. Save our neighborhoods. Instead of
funding no-bid contracts in Iraq, Congress could create the
Loan Officer Corps to pay mortgage brokers to mediate
between banks and homeowners to keep more Americans in their
homes, more counties collecting property taxes, more cities
solvent.

Prime the jobs pump. Recreate the Civilian Conservation
Corps, the New Deal program that employed 250,000 men, ages
18 to 25, at work camps in every state to stop soil erosion
and plant trees. Hire more teachers for Head Start,
President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty preschool program.
Launch a Nurses Now Initiative to pay college grads to train
as nurses at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Saving lives, saving minds, saving forests - it's all green.
But how do we pay for this?

Cut the waste in our military budget. Bring our troops home
from the trillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exact
a serious fee on every stock trade on Wall Street. Bust open
the bank vaults in the Caribbean where corporate tax dodgers
stash their profits. Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
End the war on drugs with its obscene prison costs.

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

It doesn't have to be this way. Together, we can create a
better future: new jobs, health care, clean air, land and
water. With our wealth of talent, we can champion a new
green economy competitive with China and Germany.

It's time to put America back to work.

It is time for a Green New Deal.

[Marcy Winograd is President of Progressive Democrats of Los
Angeles, a chapter of Progressive Democrats of America.
Winograd garnered almost 38% of the vote when she challenged
Jane Harman in the congressional Primary last June.

A former legal worker with the United Farm Workers Union and
the Pentagon Papers defense team, Winograd helped craft an
anti-war resolution passed at the California Party
convention in 2005. In addition to working for an end to the
US occupation of Iraq, Winograd led election protection
efforts aimed at ensuring a verifiable voter paper trail and
lobbied the FCC to oppose media consolidation. Currently,
Winograd teaches US history at Palisades Charter High
School.]

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