Last week, The Intercept published a piece on how this recession is so different, how COVID has changed us, & how typical stimulus strategies can’t work. Leaving us with one option: A vast Green New Deal & (hopefully) a President we’ll need to push to do it.
Today, we use The Intercept’s, “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009,” as our point of departure and primary source in assessing just how much our economy, our public health and we as people have all changed in fundamental ways that cry out for bold, almost unimaginable change, a way different way of seeing things. After a couple of announcements, we focus on how we can and must use our need for regenerating our economy to create transformative change. After that analysis, we provide a wonderful 3 minute video sent to me by my pal, Jeff Haas, “The Birds & the Bees.”
Luke Spangenburg Dies of Heart Attack. I was shocked to read this morning that SFCC Biofuels Director Luke Spangengburg had died of a heart attack. Only 55 years old and a picture of fitness, it was inconceivable to me. A terrible loss to our community and to his wife Sarah Ghiorse and his two kids. Luke was so enthusiastic, truly one of the most likable person I’ve ever met. I worked closely with him to establish the sustainability education partnership between SFCC and Santa Fe High. , As noted in the New Mexican report this morning, Luke walked the walk and had lived a most extraordinary life. Click here to read more.Rest in Peace, Luke.
Election Strategy. If we don’t win on Nov 3, we will never have a chance to transform this country. It will be too late. I don’t need to spell it out. It is perfectly clear that unless we have a landslide that is reported on Tuesday night Nov 3, Trump will launch a twitter storm claiming voter fraud and setting loose his militia, his plainclothes thugs, Fox News, and social media. At best, it will be days or weeks of tumult until the courts validate the results (fingers crossed on that). Far better for all of us to use our funds, our time and our relationships to ensure a sweeping win without waiting for more mail in ballots to be counted.
Last night we held our twice monthly Transformation Study Group conversation. Every single member was freaked out and scared by the looming election. I think most thinking Americans live with more fear than is healthy. But we can’t let this fear paralyze us; we need to use it to motivate us. Click here to get to our Election Strategies and use them to organize a zoom call with some friends.
IT IS YOUR JOB TO GET FIVE FRIENDS IN THE ELECTION FRAY TODAY. Pick a Race or a State & LET’S DO IT!
Wednesday, September 9 from 6:00-7:30 pm. YUCCA Action presents Dare to Lead: Facing the Climate Challenge Head On, a virtual conversation with Representative Roybal Caballero and special guest, Representative Deb Haaland, District 1 Representative in Congress. YUCCA Action will be discussing the latest and most pertinent climate issues facing the diverse communities in New Mexico. Both of these dynamic and strong leaders are YUCCA Action endorsed candidates. In the Spring, YUCCA Action endorsed a slate of candidates from northern and central New Mexico. These candidates expressed a clear and deep commitment to being bold and placing science and frontline communities to the front in policy making. This event comes 55 days away from the 2020 General Election in which we will be electing a whole new State Legislature as well as Federal Representatives and Senators. This is a virtual event that can be watched on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yucca.action. Attendees may also watch the event on Zoom, registration at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rv6WQqC1Q1Oe3bw4_fSP8A
Retake Conversation, September 5 with Peter Smith, former GOP Lt. Governor, State Senator, and US Representative, now a member of Republicans for Trump. This is a fascinating interview. Peter is also the President of KSFR the board of directors and so he and I have co-hosted several pledge drive shows. Interestingly, he lost his re-election campaign to the US House of Representatives to Bernie Sanders, in part because Peter had announced his support for an assault weapons ban and the NRA decided to back Bernie. We talked about his reasons for supporting Biden and also reflected on the days when the GOP had principles. Very worth a listen.
Water Zoominar. Sept 15, 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
Click here for more info & to register.
In 2009 Obama Bailed Out the Banks & Left Americans Broke.
This Time We Do It Differently
The habit of reading 4-5 online articles a day has resulted in creating a common reaction as I read: nodding my head, generally agreeing, but not necessarily leading to a “huh, I’d never thought of that. But I had a few “huh, I’d never thought of that” moments when reading “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“, by James Galbraith, published byThe Intercept. The article clearly delineated why the creation of a massive FDR-scale Green New Deal is the only means of jump starting the economy, something Retake has laid out in prior posts. But what was so fascinating about The Intercept piece, were the reasons given for how and why old “Keynsian” strategies of infusing money into the economy and letting consumers drive the recovery, simply won’t work. Galbraith lays out three reasons for this.
First, the pandemic has obliterated the global market for many advanced capital goods in which America excels. Aircraft are a major example. The civil aviation industry depends on worldwide demand, not U.S. demand, and world demand is dead so long as more airworthy planes are parked on the ground than are in the air. In a slightly different vein, the U.S. oil business turns on a world price. It is doomed so long as the selling price is half the cost of getting fracked oil from the ground in West Texas. Construction of offices and retail malls: also dead and done as a substantial share of clerical work shifts to the home office and of shopping to online distributors. The sale of automobiles will slow as commuting and shopping demand fewer miles of travel, and cars therefore last longer. In many other sectors, cheap digital equipment will replace expensive facilities and human labor. Overall, the next recovery will not be kickstarted by exports, by business investment, or by the purchases of durable consumer goods. There is nothing that Keynesian stimulus can do about that.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
in the above citation, Galbraith points to how the economy has changed due in large part to COVID. But he goes on to describe how the second aspect of a typical recovery is generated by increased utilization of consumer services. He then makes the point that most of those services are not “essential and that many of the services that once were purchased, during COVID, we have learned to do ourselves.
Even when the threat of the virus recedes — if it does recede — these services will not return easily for a more basic reason. They are generally not essential. They are add-ons that grew up with our wealth, and most Americans can, by and large, do without them. American households in the middle class and up live in houses, the byproduct of postwar policies of suburbanization and homeownership. If they have to, people who live in houses can cook, clean, and entertain themselves at home. In recent years, the economy grew by persuading them to leave home: to go out, to buy food, get exercise, and have fun on the market.From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
One of the first things Roxanne and I did for her birthday weekend and after outside dining was restored in NM was to go out for breakfast at tables in a tented parking lot, and then out for dinner on a patio. The reaction each time was: we can do this at home better, more cheaply and without getting in our car. Now multiply that reaction times 100 million people, many of whom are going to be watching their budgets for far longer than when their jobs return. And as Galbraith points out, there is a Catch 22 here. Jobs won’t return in a service driven economy if people are not consuming services and people won’t begin to utilize non-essential services until their employment is firmly secured. And due to COVID, there is so much that Americans have learned without consuming an array of services:
- We have learned to have happy hours with friends outside, safely distanced;
- We’ve learned to use Zoom to conduct business, activism socializing and even connecting with distant family, all without getting in a car or plane or using an office or public space;
- We’ve learned to exercise at home, take more walks, and avoid gyms…when COVID recedes, gyms may re-open, but many will look at the monthly fees and the need to get in their car, and ask themselves: why?
- Going to a movie theater to watch a film? Well, we’ve gotten good at Netflix, Youtube, and other online entertainment
These experiences have changed us. As things return to “normal” many of us will question that normal, especially those facing mountains of debt. In many ways, this is a very good change. Retake has many times noted that our consumer driven lifestyles have been consuming an unsustainable production of cars, plans, gasoline, plastic, and other goods. The planet can’t keep producing it and can’t find ways to store the waste involved in producing it.
Thirdly, even once COVID is contained, over one-third of Americans failed to pay all of their rent or mortgage in July and it is nearly certain that number has increased in August and, failing substantial relief from the Feds, many consumers will continue to increase the amount they owe to landlords, credit cards and worst of all predatory payday lenders. Once in that kind of financial hole, it will be a very long time before they are purchasing non-essential goods or services. Re-enter Catch 22.
The decision, by millions of anxious Americans each acting in their own best interest — to eat and play at home, to save more and spend less, to protect their health and to hang on for as long as possible — creates an economic problem that cannot be palliated by money alone. This is not the postwar America of competitive consumerism and pent-up demand on which the magic of Maynard Keynes worked so well.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
In short, we are in an economic pickle and the “tried and true” approaches to regenerating things are now “tired and untrue.” What to do?
Galbraith lays out an eight point plan for regenerating our economy, but here, not only are the strategies used to jump start the economy different than those of the past 90 years, so is the economy itself. The good news is the plan is achievable, the bad news is that we hear precious little of this kind of thinking from the center of the Democratic Party, hence the title to The Intercept article: “Rebuilding the Econoomy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009.” Hence our need to sharpen our advocacy tools to press him hard in 2021.
Galbraith’s Eight Part Plan
First, we must pivot from our investment in a war economy in a world where the threat of war recedes continuously and divert those investments into a green, sustainable infrastructure, improved public health and mitigating the looming climate catastrophe.
Second, a national job guarantee program. Galbraith points out that 40 million Americans have lost their jobs from a broad swathe of our economy. Many, if not most, of those jobs will not return.
“There is work enough for everyone: in teaching, in caring, in public health, in parks and libraries, in art and culture, in maintaining our communities, and in providing food and housing and other basic services to those in need, and if the jobs are made available, people will sign up for them by the millions.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
Third, service providers will need public assistance to restore their business, not just to reopen, but to exist sustainably at a reduced level of operation. If these business will require public investment to be viable, that support should come with conditions that employees have more say in how businesses operate with workers also securing an ownership piece.
Fourth, we must invest in a robust public health infrastructure, one that is located within the US to ensure that we are never left with vulnerable to supply chains over which we have no control. To fuel this investment Galbraith suggests: ” Health Finance Corporation along the lines of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that operated from 1932 to 1956.” In other words, this is a strategy that worked and was implemented when Democrats behaved like the “We the People” Party it was in the 30’s and 40’s and that Dems are now using as a slogan. We need to push passed sloganeering and do some social engineering.
Sixth, we must develop a reasonable just approach to debt relief for renters and landlords depending upon those rents; for homeowners and those holding those mortgages; and this approach must also address those facing mountains of student, consumer, and medical debt. The government has spent trillions to bail out corporate America and provide obscene tax relief to our wealthiest Americans, but when it comes to working people legislators cry about a mounting deficit. The time has come to turn that page.
Seventh, we must redistribute wealth and debt in America. Too many Americans live from pay check to pay check, have virtually nothing in their savings and face a new reality where work is simply not going to pay what it did or be as secure as it had been….and many will bridle at suggesting that pay had ever been adequate or secure. A great reckoning is needed. And astutely, Galbraith makes the point that the reckoning will come one way or another.
“The redistribution, by the way, will occur. It can be done through a decade of depression, as in the 1930s, or two decades of inflation, as in the 1960s, or it can be done by sensible restructuring and debt relief, as was done in the immediate aftermath of World War II.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
Eighth, we must re-examine and reform the entire banking industry. The changes above would require significant sacrifice from the financial sector as massive levels of debt are written off. Many banks will not survive. But Wall St has always been a predatory, extractive industry. In NM, we will be pressing for a state public bank in the 2021 legislative session. Nationally, we must do the same.
“The big banks that cannot make it can be taken over and run as public utilities; this can be done under present law. Necessary payments, savings, and credit functions can be sustained by providing public options, through postal banking and a public electronic payments system, managed by the Fed. Over time, regional and local banks can be supported to build a new economy in place of the one that Wall Street distorted and, ultimately, helped to destroy.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
Galbraith closes by returning to his original point: the old economic strategies that have been employed since the end of WW II are artifacts that need to be rejected. They will not work because they no longer apply.
“The path forward requires planning and action on a far larger scale. It requires skills, imagination, local knowledge, commitment, and mobilization that resemble — but actually surpass — those brought to bear in the New Deal.”From The Intercept: “Rebuilding the Economy Will Require Joe Biden to Think Very Differently Than 2009“
Galbraith also suggests that America has made dramatic shifts in the past and could do it again. I’d certainly be more confident in this being the path Democrats take in 2021 if Warren or Sanders were to be at the head of the ticket. But that just means that from now til Nov 3, all our efforts need to focus on ensuring that we are advocating with Biden, not cowering from Trump. And then the strategy will become advocating with a President and a NM State Legislature that is at least receptive to these ideas. And so, Retake will continue to outline those policies for which we will be seeking from our elected servants in hopes that the outline of a new way of doing business will motivate all of you to get in the game, cuz if we lose in November, the game may be over. Forever.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Well worth 3 minutes.
It will put a smile on your face & bird turds on Donald Trump.