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The Growth Party vs The Neoliberal (and Green?) Parties, Part 1

7:17 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Part 1: The Problem is Growth Party? Fuck That!

Don’t let the right wing economists steal reality from us. All that people value must be reckoned with when we assess growth and prosperity, whether or not it can be neatly counted.

The major political weakness of neoliberalism is that it is the economics of slow growth. Great on re-distribution up, which is why it is so popular with elites, but it slows economic growth even when it is not pushing austerity. But we leftists don’t exploit this weakness! Among the reasons for the preceding are that, like most citizens, leftists have been propagandized into misunderstanding economics, ignoring economic history and making right-wing or just wrong background assumptions that have no basis in reality.

Case in point is David Lindorff’s tragically subtitled — “The Problem is Growth” — piece in Counterpunch of a few days ago. (‘Tragic’ because only the left will lead us out of neoliberal hell, and a left that is anti-growth will fail.) Lindorff asserts baldly — in a piece whose actual title is also pretty ridiculous, “What’s Wrong with America” — that “economic growth … is a threat to life.” He comes to this conclusion in the usual way, from the global warming, pollution, overcrowding angle.

But Lindorff’s background assumption, about the meaning of “economic growth,” is wrong: he has assumed that it must mean increased factories, cars, buildings and similar. That is not true. Economic growth for real human beings means an increase in whatever individuals give economic value to. Do I value a pollution-free environment? Yes. Then for me an increasingly clean environment represents economic growth. Do I value a more egalitarian distribution of income? Yes. Then for me an increasingly egalitarian society represents economic growth.

Economic value and growth, then, are about what we value, or more specifically what each of us values aggregated together. That’s a real, human GNP. Yeah, it’s not something that is entirely measurable, but so what, that’s sometimes how reality goes. Mainstream economists nonetheless blithely and absurdly assert that economic value (and therefore economic growth) consists only of money and whatever else can be counted. But that destroys any real human meaning to the terms ‘value’ and ‘growth’ just to make economic growth, and by implication prosperity and even happiness, measurable. It isn’t, they aren’t.

If we understand economic value, and therefore growth, in the only way that makes sense to human beings, then left economics can and should be about economic growth and fairly shared prosperity. That, of course, doesn’t mean we support polluting, warming and destroying the planet. No, instead, economic growth and prosperity are for us to define in any way we like, subjectively and democratically. I sure hope and believe most people find great value in a clean and non-warming planet.

Hope I’ve disposed of the ‘Lindorff Objection’. (Of course, I may have done so here, but it is still out there …) But if I haven’t, let’s talk about it in the comments!

The Green New Deal, by ‘Green Change’

9:20 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

On July 7, Green Change launched its campaign for a Green New Deal. (I first found out about it on Firedoglake’s ‘The Seminal‘.) Their ten proposals would shatter the earth as we know it (in a good way).

Green Change’s new campaign: the Green New Deal

. . . The Green New Deal is our answer to the economic and ecological problems facing communities around the world.

The Green New Deal is a platform of policies aimed at creating broadly shared economic prosperity and effecting the transition to a sustainable civilization. . . .

Sign onto the Coalition for a Green New Deal today.

Here’s what you endorse by joining the Coalition for a Green New Deal:

THE GREEN NEW DEAL

1. Cut military spending at least 70%.

2. Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation.

3. Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them.

4. Establish single-payer "Medicare for all" health care.

5. Institute tuition-free public higher education.

6. Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards.

7. End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana.

8. Enact tough limits on credit card interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation.

9. Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.

10. Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reforms.

Put into action, the above would be planet-transforming in all sorts of positive ways. Of course, the Green New Deal doesn’t take a position on every issue; it is not _quite_ everything you’d like to see in a great green left platform. But, if any politician signed onto the ten I hope you’d have a very hard time not supporting him or her. Even if, by signing on, his or her forehead would be branded ‘unelectable’ by the anti-populist, economic elite-owned media.

But it’s time, everyone, it’s way past time to start backing the politicians who advance the positions we agree with and not the ones with the slightly-less-stomach-turning points of view compared to his two-party-system competitor. Finally, let’s start voting for the people we agree with! Who knows, it might work? The old way, of choosing between the offerings of the two big money parties, has long worked against us; all of us should have awakened to that in the last several years of bipartisan support for endless colonial-style wars and gigantic bailouts of the financial elites. I assume and hope that for many of us these last few years were the last straw.

Where it goes from here I don’t know, but I like the Green Change approach and its positions. Let’s lend our support and see what happens; sign on like I did.

And, if you want to subtract, add, or modify the the list of ten, let’s talk about it here! (You can also talk about it at Green Change’s blogsite.)

To start the kibbitzing out, if I could I would change

7. End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana.

to

7. Decriminalize marijuana and otherwise treat drug abuse and addiction as a public health rather than a criminal matter.

I think my suggestion sounds more caring than ‘too radical’, and it would change our ‘frame’ for looking at the _entire_ drug war; changing that basic way of looking at drugs and drug abuse may be the only way (in the U.S., at least) we’ll ever get most politicians to support legalization/decriminalization even of the least harmful illegal drug, marijuana. Also, I think the sort of campaign Green Change is embarking on is very important as a frame changer for undecided voters, and should not just be a list of good ideas that already have strong supportive constituencies. (By the way, I hope it’s clear both the old and new "7." is about legalization and so on for adults.)

I also would modify

5. Institute tuition-free public higher education.

to

5. Increase funding for public education by 50%, make funding equitable across schools, and make the first two years of higher education tuition-free.

My suggestion focuses mainly on the K-12 education crisis in the U.S. Strategically, also, for me free tuition for all four years of college on first impression seems class-biased, focused too much on benefiting an already relatively well-off upper-middle-class.

Well, you can’t always get what you want, and I’ve signed on to the Green New Deal despite my carping. I hope lots of people here The Seminal do too.