Richard Wolff and Bob Hennelly talk about the Green New Deal
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Richard Wolff and Bob Hennelly talk about the Green New Deal

October 12, 2019

We have been hearing stories about a
proposal coming from the most progressive parts of the Democratic
Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others,
about a Green New Deal. I’m struck by that. I’m struck by putting these
terms together: the New Deal, which really was a massive program to help working
people, and green, a recognition of the ecological disaster we are living
through. Tell us a little bit about why that’s in the news and what you as a
labor reporter picked up on as this is being debated.
Well unfortunately I think
in our Twitter-verse that were in it kind of to a bad start because the
right-wing reactionary media picked up on something that wasn’t in the actual
legislation but in a frequently asked question support document that had been
put out around the same time. And there was a reference very far down that the
system, the economic system that was being visualized, would provide money and
support for those people that were unable or unwilling to work. And so out
of 2,000 words they zeroed in on that and they didn’t reflect on the fact that
right above that was reference to something that I’m sure your viewers and
listeners are familiar with, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second bill of rights,
which was given as part of the State of the Union dress in 1944, which really
talked about the fact that this country was at a point where it had gone as far
as it could in terms of delivering on the Bill of Rights, a political document,
but it had fallen far short because so many people were in need. And he extorted
the American population not to accept this circumstance where so many people
were doing without because then the Republic wouldn’t achieve its potential
success. And so he talked about work as a right; as something that needed
meaningful dignified work with something that people should have as a right. They
didn’t focus on that part because really the green New Deal is all about work.
know it strikes me when Social Security was put forward by FDR as part of the
whole New Deal it was opposed by right-wingers as
socialism, the same story. When unemployment compensation was proposed
in the 1930s the right wing again attacked it. When federal
of which there were 15 million were proposed and put into effect it was
opposed by these people. They are always the same ones who find some little
detail like this and become enraged around their anxiety that actually
helping people who need it is some sort of threat to their society. It’s a it’s a
bizarre kind of reaction.
I would say that part of the problem is… I have a few
critiques about the green New Deal. I do think they need to work higher up into
the preamble a reference to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second Bill of Rights
because I don’t think it’s taught. I don’t think people even know it exists.
So there’s a sense of historical continuity with the mainstream of
American history. The other thing is I don’t think they come directly at a
critique of late-stage vulture capitalism the way they need to. They
really need to lay out for people that the problem with fossil fuel generated
vulture capitalism is that it privatizes the profits and socializes the
environmental waste and degradation. Similarly, and they need to make this
point as well, automation does the same thing. These
great geniuses of high-tech things that we worship are basically repurposing
taxpayer-funded Pentagon research which then they privatize the profits and then
socialized the idle people and it becomes a cost externality for them but
it becomes our problem to deal with the mass of individuals with nothing to

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  1. Richard Wolfe summed it a nutshell…. The people going against this are not logical 🤷🏾‍♂️

  2. Richard Wolff has on occasion expressed agreement with the proposal put forward by Henry George (and many others consistently over the last century and longer) that the value of land (what is referred to in political economy as "rent") rightfully belongs to the community, or society. What is less well appreciated is that moving to a rent-as-revenue system for government creates a synergy that will result in sustainable fully employment and sustainable use of the earth's resources. A "Green New Deal" will achieve the desired outcomes only if this fundamental revenue issue is incorporated.

    The solution to our problems of widespread poverty and disregard for the environment have been extensively analyzed decade after decade. Back in 1970, Fortune magazine included a long article by a writer named Max Ways, titled "How to Think About the Environment." It is worth revisiting again as we struggle to respond to the threats of climate change, species extinction and loss of habitat. I resurrected this article some years ago and made it available online:

    Edward J. Dodson, M.L.A., Director
    School of Cooperative Individualism

  3. Getting 100 video cuts that are each three minutes long in your subscription feed is actually really annoying. Unsubscribing.

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