We Need A Green New Deal Immediately

As we approach June 2020 we are spending unprecedented trillions. Every American community, state and our nation will become perceived as unable to pay its bills unless — ASAP — our expenditures are organized and focused on “Green” (i.e. regenerative) investments. Most important is that this include the investments in jobs, education and health of the citizens who determine value in our society. And this is because Green/Regenerative investments have a remarkable, demonstrated, Return On Investment.

The numbers astonish. In the Great Recession, 8.7 million U.S. jobs were lost. And it required five years to build back those jobs. Since March the U.S. has lost 46 million jobs — fully 28% of the pre-pandemic workforce. In MA the numbers are even more daunting. According to a Boston Globe report today (May 29th) 185,000 applied for jobless benefits last week bringing the 10 week total to 1.4 million. This is a mind boggling 38% of MA pre-pandemic workforce.

This is not a time for polite understatement. It is a time for action towards the “big structural change” Senator Elizabeth Warren and many others recognized we needed before this crisis made them an unavoidably urgent necessity. Our present challenge is greater than the Great Depression which involved lower levels of unemployment. On FDR’s inauguration, that greatest of Presidents famously observed that with an entirely healthy workforce, agricultural and industrial infrastructure, the only thing we had to fear is “fear itself.” Today we face more than the “irrational, unreaasoning, fear” FDR’s America faced down. We face a scaling global killer and our cruel, clownish and constantly lying current President has, unforgivably, allowed the USA to become its global epicenter.

Organizational leaders understand the difference between spending and investing. What we are currently doing is necessary spending. What we need to start doing ASAP is necessary investment in high ROI projects leading with the subsidy of jobs in urban and rural communities with concentrated unemployment greater than 50%. HHS analysis of the career impacts and avoided public costs of 2009 recovery act job subsidies, deserves far greater influence. The subsidized jobs need to be Union Jobs to help address the structural imbalance of political power created by huge amounts of dark money financing U.S. politics. A rebalancing of political power is necessary for wage growth to be remarried to productivity growth. Furthermore, the subsidized jobs need to be focused on high ROI infrastructure including 100% renewable energy, mass weatherization of the building stock and net zero emission transportation adjacent housing. With Co-ops and employee owned corporations (already a multi-trillion dollar part of the global economy — see Nationwide, Swiss Co-op and Land OLakes) helping this to be an investment that also increases the economic power of workers.

Organizational leaders know — hope is not a strategy. It is pleasant to hope for a vaccine within 18 months but only children or fools would plan on it. To test and deploy an efficacious vaccine what will have to be on the scale of 100s of millions globally, will be one of the greatest feats humankind has ever undertaken. For it to succeed within 5 years would be an outstanding triumph of science and our ability to act collective.

Once the realities of when it might be “business smart” to depend on vaccines able to stop this virus and any mutation of it, is combined with an understanding of how far even NYC is from just 25% towards “herd immunity”, one can begin to plan realistically. And that includes understanding what can be expected to happen to 2021 corporate budgets as most all companies resize to address a radically changed market. Once you’ve made these mental adjustments, I think you begin to have an informed organizational leaders’ view of this economy.

I created SR Inc because I became convinced that macro trends made our approach to business unsustainable. I also became convinced of a sub trend that made our financial system even more immediately unsustainable in 2008. So I transferred all my assets into SR Inc — A business I could direct that was designed to help address the macro trends I knew we would have to address for the rest of my career. The 2008 financial correction was larger than I suspected but not terribly surprising due to Wall Street’s long reliance on deluded “supply-side economics” that were at odds with the real economy’s demand-side nature. Now we are faced with a far deeper challenge and need for change.

Covid-19 has ripped the mask off of a beast of an economy, that has long been unworthy of us. We had more than 10 million Americans without healthcare, more than 500,000 homeless and 24% of American children living in poverty as a majority of income gains since 2008 accrued to the benefit of the top 1%. And that was before Covid-19 caused 46 million Americans (28% of the national pre-pandemic workforce) to lose their jobs and likely healthcare. It has also taught us that the public health upon which everyone’s individual health depends, hinges on the health of our most vulnerable. And that far from being low status “unskilled workers” warehouse workers and store clerks are “essential” to our economy and the public health that makes it possible.

So now we can finally face the fact we need to make our economy serve life — our life giving ecology and, most importantly, our children — not vice versa. Our constitution establishes that in our popular government we are co-equal sovereigns all alike in our inalienable dignity. None above any other and none below in a dignity that no man or group of men gave us. It is a dignity we were endowed with by our creator. And as we strive towards “a more perfect union” we are striving towards one that fully vindicates our dignity. It’s a fact that we live on stolen land and that slave labor played an enormous role in building America’s power. But in our strength and in our woundedness, we can still heed John Winthrop, Adams and Kennedy’s call (quoting Christ on the Mount) “to be like a city on a hill” in a troubled world. It has never needed it more.

As the world’s leading center of learning and medicine and one of the world’s leading centers of government policy, green investments and even spiritual growth — now is the time for our MA Commonwealth to remember its 400 year old purpose. Only 10 weeks into this multi-year challenge 38% of us are unemployed. Now is the time for us to come together as a Commonwealth across racial, religious and regional lines to demonstrate to the world how every citizens’ full dignity can be vindicated in a world challenged as never before. We need to move beyond the deadening logic of an adolescent selfishness to recognize the gracious interdependence that MLK did when he recognized that we are “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Brilliant economists like Kate Raworth, Thomas Piketty and Nobel winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz can help as can leading thinkers like Donna Hicks at Harvard’s Kennedy School who authored “Leading with Dignity” in 2018. And Francis Fukuyama whose two volume master work “The Origins of Political Order & Decay” more than makes up for his youthful work as a confused Neo-conservative thinker. Guided by these thought leaders and evidence based decision-making, MA can continue its centuries of innovation and create an always more enlivening success through aligning with what science increasingly reveals about both the demands & remarkable beauty of our shared life. Now we have no choice but for “big structural changes” worthy of us.

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CEO & Founder of Sustainability Roundtable Inc.; Founder & Director, Alliance for Business Leadership (non-profit). My personal, informal & evolving, opinion:

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James F. Boyle

CEO & Founder of Sustainability Roundtable Inc.; Founder & Director, Alliance for Business Leadership (non-profit). My personal, informal & evolving, opinion: