Friday, November 28, 2008

Green Solutions for the Recession

Twice in the last two days I have heard from Greens who are not interested in any measures to try to mend the economy. The argument is that we do not want to go back to business as usual, and that the recession is OK.

My view is that unemployment is a scourge on the unemployed. It is based on facts. The unemployed are less happy, have poorer health, probably die younger, and some of them do minor car crime. The evidence for this is in my book (Bills of Health, Lawson R., Radcliffe 1996 , from a library near you).

Secondly, there is a vast amount of work that is crying out to be done. This is good work, real work, constructive work, work that opposes the second Law of Thermodynamics (See here: )

This work is in the Green Sector of the economy:

1. energy conservation
2. renewable energy technologies
3. energy efficient goods manufacture
4. pollution control technology
5. waste minimisation
6. repair
7. recycling
8. water management
9. sustainable agriculture
10. forestry and timber use
11. countryside management
12. housing - new building and refurbishment
13. improvements to visual environment
14. public transport
15. education and training
16. counselling, caring and healing
17. community work
18. leisure and tourism
19. innovation, research and development
20. any business which passes a certain threshold in its environmental audit.

This is vital work that must be done.

What is ecologically necessary must be made financially possible.

Therefore it is necessary for Government to enable all this work to take place.

The Green Wage Subsidy is a simple, feasible, practical way to bring this about by amending the present benefit system. Effectively it extends Earnings Disregard to people who find work in the green sector.

The Green New Deal is necessary but not sufficient.

If we include the above 20 items, we have a Green New Deal Plus, GND+, which will help to heal the recession,heal the environment, heal society and enable us to emerge out of this recession into a greener economy, like a Green Phoenix out of the ashes of the old system. This is emphatically not Business as Usual.

Appendix 1: Keynes advocated Govt borrowing to pay for the investment into the recessed economy. In that banks are not lending, HMG has either to borrow from investors (through a gilts issue? Would that yield anything like the amounts they need?) or borrow from Oriental banks? I am just guessing here. You may have the answers. It seems a bit odd for the Government to borrow from the banking system that it has just lent a huge amount of money. Which raises the question of why the creation of money must necessarily be restricted to the private sector.

Appendix 2: In a stable green economy it could be that leisure might increase. If so, good. But please please do not confound unemployment in the present economic system with green leisure. Today, now, unemployment means poverty and hardship, with all that arises from it: anger, frustration, worry, violence, crime - and most importantly of all, community tensions which feed the BNP. Unemployment and housing scarcity are the twin flames that lift the BNP hot air balloon. "Look at those immigrants! They have your jobs and houses!! Send them home!!!"
And dissatisfied people buy that.

That is enough in and of itself to campaign enthusiastically for a GND+, which starts with energy conservation and renewables, but must also sort the general jobs and housing problems.

I am fully behind Citizen's Income, which would be a much more sensible idea than a cut in VAT, but unfortunately it is a dream in the present political climate. Green Wage Subsidy on the other hand is an achievable goal.


1 comment:

GAEA said...

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