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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline

7 Feb

The Green New Deal legislation laid out by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey sets goals for some drastic measures to cut carbon emissions across the economy. In the process, it aims to create jobs and boost the economy. February 7, 20195:01 AM ET Amr Alfiky/NPR

 

Whether it’s a deadly cold snap or a hole in an Antarctic glacier or a terrifying new report, there seem to be constant reminders now of the dangers that climate change poses to humanity.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., think they have a start to a solution. Thursday they are introducing a framework defining what they call a “Green New Deal” — what they foresee as a massive policy package that would remake the U.S. economy and, they hope, eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions.
That’s a really big — potentially impossibly big — undertaking.
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” Ocasio-Cortez told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an interview airing Thursday on Morning Edition.
She added: “It could be part of a larger solution, but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution would entail. And so that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with the Green New Deal.”

What is the Green New Deal?
In very broad strokes, the Green New Deal legislation laid out by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey sets goals for some drastic measures to cut carbon emissions across the economy, from electricity generation to transportation to agriculture. In the process, it aims to create jobs and boost the economy.

 

 

In that vein, the proposal stresses that it aims to meet its ambitious goals while paying special attention to groups like the poor, disabled and minority communities that might be disproportionately affected by massive economic transitions like those the Green New Deal calls for.
Importantly, it’s a nonbinding resolution, meaning that even if it were to pass (more on the challenges to that below), it wouldn’t itself create any new programs. Instead, it would potentially affirm the sense of the House that these things should be done in the coming years.
Lawmakers pass nonbinding resolutions for things as simple as congratulating Super Bowl winners, as well as to send political messages — for example, telling the president they disapprove of his trade policies, as the Senate did in summer 2018.
What are the specifics of that framework?
The bill calls for a “10-year national mobilizations” toward accomplishing a series of goals that the resolution lays out.
Among the most prominent, the deal calls for “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.” The ultimate goal is to stop using fossil fuels entirely, as well as to transition away from nuclear energy.

 

https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=5729033-Green-New-Deal-FINAL

 

In addition, the framework, as described in the legislation as well as “FAQs” from Ocasio-Cortez’s office, calls for a variety of other lofty goals:
“upgrading all existing buildings” in the country for energy efficiency;
working with farmers “to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions… as much as is technologically feasible” (while supporting family farms and promoting “universal access to healthy food”);
“Overhauling transportation systems” to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building “charging stations everywhere,” and expanding high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary”;
A guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security” for every American;
“High-quality health care” for all Americans.

Which is to say: the Green New Deal framework combines big climate-change-related ideas with a wish list of progressive economic proposals that, taken together, would touch nearly every American and overhaul the economy.
Are those ideas doable?
Many in the climate science community, as well as Green New Deal proponents, agree that saving the world from disastrous effects of climate change requires aggressive action.
And some of the Green New Deal’s goals are indeed aggressive. For example, Ocasio-Cortez told NPR that “in 10 years, we’re trying to go carbon-neutral.”
According to Jesse Jenkins, a postdoctoral environmental fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, that may be an unreachable goal.

“Where we need to be targeting really is a net-zero carbon economy by about 2050, which itself is an enormous challenge and will require reductions in carbon emissions much faster than have been achieved historically,” he said. “2030 might be a little bit early to be targeting.”
Similarly, removing combustible engines from the roads or expanding high-speed rail to largely eliminate air travel would require nothing short of revolutionizing transportation.
Likewise, some of the more progressive economic policies — universal health care and a job guarantee, for example — while popular among some Democrats, would also be very difficult to implement and transition into.

 

 

On top of all that, implementing all of these policies could costs trillions upon trillions of dollars.
Altogether, the Green New Deal is a loose framework — it does not lay out guidance on how to implement these policies.
Rather, the idea is that Ocasio-Cortez and Markey will “begin work immediately on Green New Deal bills to put the nuts and bolts on the plan described in this resolution.”
And again, all of this is hypothetical — it would be tough to implement and potentially extremely expensive… if it passed.
So did the idea of a Green New Deal start with Ocasio-Cortez?
Not at all.

While the Green New Deal has in the last year or so grown central to progressive Democrats’ policy conversations, the idea of a Green New Deal itself is well over a decade old. Environmentalists were talking about it as far back as 2003, when the term popped up in a San Francisco Chronicle article about an environmentalist conference.
It gained traction with a 2007 New York Times column from Thomas Friedman, where he used the phrase to describe the scope of energy investments he thought would be necessary to slow climate change on a large scale.
The phrase was also used around President Obama’s 2009 stimulus, which had around $90 billion worth of environmental initiatives.
While the idea gained some currency in Europe and also in the Green Party, it wasn’t until after the 2016 election that it really gained broad popularity on the left in the U.S. (Vox’s Dave Roberts has a more thorough history here).
This latest iteration is different both in the political energy that it has amassed and the grand scope it is taking. While it was a product of the progressive activist community, Ocasio-Cortez has been perhaps the most visible proponent of the plan, and has helped it gain nationwide attention.
So will it pass?
That looks unlikely.

 

 

Yes, there’s some energy for it on the left — some House Democrats have already said they will support the bill. However, there are indications House leadership isn’t prioritizing the idea as much as those more liberal Democrats would like — Speaker Nancy Pelosi frustrated Green New Deal proponents by not giving them the kind of committee they wanted to put the policies together.

In addition, it’s easy to see how the bill could be dangerous for moderate House Democrats, many of whom come from swing districts and may be loath to touch such a progressive proposal.
Among Republicans — even those worried about climate change — the package, with its liberal economic ideas, will also likely be a nonstarter.
“Someone’s going to have to prove to me how that can be accomplished because it looks to me like for the foreseeable future we’re gonna be using a substantial amount of fossil fuels,” said Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., co-chair of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, speaking to NPR before the Green New Deal’s text was released.
For his part, Rooney is in favor of a carbon tax, a policy he helped propose with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in November. Information from Ocasio-Cortez’s office says that the Green New Deal could include a carbon tax, but that it would be “a tiny part” of the total package of policies.
Meanwhile, there’s little chance of a Green New Deal getting a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
If it’s not going to pass and it’s not even binding, why is it worth even talking about?
It’s worth talking about because it already is a politically powerful idea among Democrats.

Already, presidential candidates are being asked whether they support the idea of a Green New Deal, meaning it’s easy to see the issue becoming a litmus test for some voters in both the 2020 congressional elections and the presidential election.
To more liberal Democrats, the prospect of such an ambitious economic and environmental package at the center of the 2020 campaign may be particularly energizing.
“I think it’s like a really weird instinct that the Democratic Party develops to not be exciting intentionally,” said Sean McElwee, co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress. “Most of politics is getting people excited enough to show up and vote for you. And I think that a Green New Deal and Medicare for All — these are ideas that are big enough to get people excited and show up to vote for you.”

For her part, Ocasio-Cortez says that a policy like the Green New Deal could get voters excited enough to pressure their Congress members to support it.
“I do think that when there’s a wide spectrum of debate on an issue, that is where the public plays a role. That is where the public needs to call their member of Congress and say, ‘This is something that I care about,’ ” she told NPR, adding, “Where I do have trust is in my colleagues’ capacity to change and evolve and be adaptable and listen to their constituents.”
That said, it’s easy to see how a Green New Deal litmus test could backfire on that front, endangering some Democrats — particularly in swing districts.
But, it’s not just about national politics. The national-level energy for a Green New Deal could boost efforts in cities and states. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for example, has been pushing a Green New Deal in his state.
Aside from the politics, of course, there’s the fact that climate change remains an impending threat — one for which the world has yet to come up with a fix.
“It’s a big legislation because it’s a huge [expletive] problem! We’re all going to die,” said McElwee. “Every week it seems like the the risks of climate change become more real, and the amount of devastation it is going to wreak upon humanity becomes larger, and that means we have to do bigger things.”

 

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On Rage, Reading Books and Other Necessities for the “Millennial Generation”

10 Jan

 

 

Danny Haiphong, BAR contributor 07 Nov 2018

Black Agenda Report
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Young people in the US are increasingly open to socialism and radical ideas, but less likely to study the science of revolutionary change.
“Neoliberal education and activism in the United States has infected young leftists with an aversion to books and study.”
Theory takes a break this week for a special message to young leftists. The Trump Administration has decried socialists as a threat to the United States. Both corporate parties have since 2016 been busy accusing left-leaning young people in this country of complicity in the rise of Trump and the fall of so-called “centrism.” The Democratic Party has worked overtime to move the attention of young leftists toward watered down “blue wave” candidates as the establishment attempts to ram through CIA and military intelligence officials into Congress in relative secrecy. It is no secret, however, that the US ruling class is concerned with the growing leftist views of the younger generation.

 

 

Polls have shown that so-called “millennials” view socialism in a positive light. Capitalism has failed them, even those white youth who believed that their parents had achieved the (white) American Dream. Millennials are poor. They work for low wages and have few opportunities to build wealth. Home ownership has fallen out of economic reach. Student debt is over a trillion dollars . Young Black Americans are terrorized by the police and forced to attend schools that funnel them into the prison regime . Young Latino Americans are terrorized by the deportation regime . In other words, US imperialism has little to offer a generation that sees no prospects for retirement and is often forced to choose between low-wage work or prison.
Young leftists also face a crisis of consciousness. While leftist ideas are on the rise, the reality remains that those labeled “millennials” know little to nothing about class struggle, Black liberation and anti-imperialism, or the fruits that prior movements won from struggle. After all, many of these fruits are disappearing by way of privatization, austerity, and state repression. Furthermore, the left is without an organized vehicle of the working class and oppressed. COINTELPRO lives on in the FBI’s “Black Identity Extremist” files. The general crisis of capitalism has developed many individual activists but few revolutionary organizations.
Of course, youth cannot be considered a class or an oppressed section of society in and of itself. There is great variance in the conditions that young people face depending on their relationship to the means of production and the ruling class structure. During the Obama era, some basic points of unity arose from the Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street insurgencies. One, the police murder of Black Americans is an unjust manifestation of racism. Two, Wall Street has run amok and forced an entire generation into material hardship through student debt and other forms of parasitic finance. Much can be developed these two points of unity.
The ruling class has made sure that the era of Trump has arrested the development of a left insurgency through desperate attempts to invalidate and erase leftists. Bezos and the rest of the capitalist class concocted Russiagate from thin air to lay an imaginary basis for the claim that the radical left and the “alt” right are mere puppets of Putin’s campaign to destroy the United States. Trump has been given billions worth of airtime to scare young leftists back into the bosom of the so-called “moderates” of the corporate parties. The “moderate” ruling class promise two things and two things only: austerity and war. These promises represent the only possible fruits of impeaching Trump, regardless of what corporate media pundits have to say on the matter.
This doesn’t mean that young people should sympathize with Trump. However, Trump navel gazing should not be allowed to suppress the genuine class demands of the people. Class demands must be brought to the fore regardless of who is President. Questions such as healthcare, jobs, and war ultimately shape the growing rage among much of the population in the United States with the status quo. The job of the young generation is to study this rage, engage with this rage, and organize this rage.

 

 

Neoliberal education and activism in the United States has infected young leftists with an aversion to books and study. There are few opportunities for young people to learn history and politics from a revolutionary perspective. On college campuses, coursework tends to ascribe to neoliberal and for-profit imperatives. Professors are promoted based on the volume of research produced and the amount of money they make for institutions rather than the content of their work. Higher education institutions have always been openly hostile to radical ideas, purging professors who become too radical and viciously cutting Black Studies and other departments that were born from grassroots political struggle.
Young leftists seeking to avoid the mistakes of the past and the obstacles of the present must read books. They need to engage with revolutionary ideas just as much as they commit to on the ground struggle. Young leftists must drop the corporate ideology of “diversity” and replace it with the politics of power. They must reject the influence of the education system and the Democratic Party, two forces that have collaborated with the imperialist state to erase the history of revolutionary struggle from popular consciousness. This erasure has been complemented by the development of an anti-intellectual, counterrevolutionary political culture in the heartland of the United States Empire.
“Young leftists need to engage with revolutionary ideas just as much as they commit to on the ground struggle.”
I am twenty-eight and attend graduate school for social work, a profession with a long history of collaboration with the forces of social control and oppression in the imperialist world. Social work education speaks highly of its “social justice” roots but does little to teach social workers about the true history of the imperial context from which it practices. The profession leans on liberal notions of race and class as forms of “diversity.” As Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford explained on Chris Hedges’ On Contact, diversity is a con that erases the complicity of the white liberal and Black misleader ship class in the reproduction of imperialist evils. Social work education has endorsed diversity because it has no answers for austerity, militarism, and the crisis of capitalism. Just like most academics who teach students to normalize imperialism, social workers are trained to further their careers by helping their “clients” adjust to increasingly horrid conditions.
Yet young leftists, even educated leftists, have few career options to further. Social work, for example, offers few economic incentives besides a job (if lucky) and thus must rely on the non-profit industrial complex’s obsession with values to distract from its social control function. Studying revolutionary theory and history is one way to combat the mundane and stagnant liberalism of the corporate academy. However, this must be done in conjunction with a search for political and organizational involvement. Here are some critical arenas of struggle that deserve more attention from young leftists:
“Study must be done in conjunction with a search for political and organizational involvement.”

 

 

Political prisoners: The United States warehouses dozens of political prisoners. Many of these prisoners served the people as leaders of the Black liberation movement of a generation ago. This includes Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and several members of the MOVE organization. Political prisoners suffer from a wide array of abuses from the prison regime. Without a movement, they will die in prison. Young leftists who are serious need to get involved in freeing all political prisoners. You can get started through the Jericho Movement here.
War: The U.S. spends trillions around the world to destabilize nations and make the world safe for corporate plunder. War is a permanent feature of a declining capitalist empire. Meanwhile, U.S. military spending not only terrorizes workers around the world but also loots the wages, social services, and taxes of workers in the U.S to pay for it. The Women’s March on the Pentagon that occurred earlier in October sought to unite the struggle for women’s rights in the U.S. with the cause of women around the world who are murdered and oppressed by U.S. warfare. The Black Alliance for Peace has been organizing to revive the Black Radical Tradition’s long history of solidarity with nations under siege from imperialism. Young leftists who are serious need to consider joining one or both efforts.
“Without a movement, political prisoners will die in prison.”
Labor: The age of austerity has decimated the labor movement. Many young leftists have never organized or joined a union. Union density is at an all-time low in the United States, which in part explains why wages have declined and poverty has risen over the last several decades. Unions may not offer a revolutionary solution to U.S. capitalism or imperialism, but they must be defended and (re)organized amid the fierce corporate assault against them. Workplaces must remain a primary site of struggle if the left is to ever wage a serious challenge to the capitalist and imperialist establishment.
Independent Media: The crisis of capitalism and imperialism is also a crisis of consciousness. A wave of “leftish” ideas has spread to younger people in the United States. Yet these ideas run the risk of dying at the altar of so-called liberal “identity” struggles born from the university or from the well-endowed graveyard of social movements, the Democratic Party. Young leftists must embrace independent left media like Black Agenda Report. They must create their own media and collaborate with existing independent media institutions to ensure that the ideological maturity of the working class and oppressed masses is given space to develop.
Whatever the case, young leftists must ultimately be drawn AWAY from Democratic Party electoral organizing. Instead, write, join an independent leftist organization, or organize a study group. Map your workplace. This is a difficult period, a period defined by crisis and stagnation. However, as Lenin stated, “there are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen.” And as political and economic contradictions in the U.S. and globally become more acute, those weeks may be coming sooner than we think.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com.

 

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1968 A YEAR OF REVOLTS; a year remembered for important social conflicts and popular rebellions against repressive states, militarism and capitalism.

30 Nov

 

 

https://www.telesurenglish.net/pages/Especiales/1968_A_YEAR_OF_REVOLTS/index.jsp#inicio

 

 

 


 

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