Climate March Links: Industrial Policy!

by Chris Sturr | September 19, 2014

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A few items in advance of this weekend’s Climate March in NYC:

(1) Ron Baiman of the Chicago Political Economy Group sent us this:

I’m sometimes asked: What is industrial policy?

This article (“Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind”) by Justin Gillis of the New York Times shows what industrial policy is. If Germany, a country with little sun, and little wind-swept land mass can do it, we all can! In fact as the article notes, German (and Chinese) industrial policies are bringing prices down and making these planetary saving technologies economically viable for all of us.

Instead of fighting for a mythological and nonsensical “free market” we should be doing the same. Industrial policy is necessary to move the massive “collective action” transformations necessary forward. Even Elan Moss’ battery factory in Nevada is going to be funded with a substantial share of (extorted) state subsidies. It’s unfortunate that this kind of “shake down” (or defense appropriations) is how its done in the U.S.–not a good method that often results in unwarranted subsidies to private business. I have not analyzed the battery deal, but it does appear to at least have the potential to create some good jobs and high tech manufacturing in the U.S. after decades of outsourcing. See CPEG long-time advocacy for “green technology” industrial policy here, here, and here.

(2)  Burlington, VT:  Via SolidarityEconomy.net, originally from DailyKos:  Vermont’s Largest City Now Using 100% Renewable Energy Sources. Reported also in Business Insiderthe Boston Globe, and the Washington Post. The DailyKos piece also talks about Germany’s achievements for energy independence, as does…

(3) Christian Parenti on Behind the News.  The second hour of the most recent (posted) episode of Doug Henwood’s excellent radio show Behind the News (click here, click play, and scroll to the second hour, or listen to the whole thing!) has an interview with Christian Parenti about his article on the Jacobin website, Reading Hamilton from the Left. The discussion of Jefferson and Hamilton (Parenti is arguing that Hamilton was far more progressive) is good, but the (later) part on Hamilton as kind of the father of develomentalism–government intervention in the capitalist economy–and Parenti’s point that Hamilton-esque policies are needed to address climate change–are really great, and relates to Ron’s piece (above) about industrial policy. (Reminded me of Jim Cypher’s piece in our March/April 2013 issue about Brazil’s “neodevelopmentalism”–though there the industrial policy isn’t being marshalled to combat climate change, quite the contrary.)

One of the most interesting bits is his point that one key way the gov’t could spur alternative energy is as a major consumer–if in compliance with the Clean Air Act the government started running all those fleets of government vehicles and all those government buildings on alternative energy, that would create a market for such energy and spur development of clean-energy technology–which is what Germany (and Spain, and Portugal) are doing. (Add to this that the U.S. government, and the U.S. military, is the world’s biggest polluter, as we documented in Bob Feldman’s great piece War on the Earth more than ten years ago, and there is plenty the government could do.)

(4) National Jobs for All Coalition flyers again:  In my last post I gave a link to the NJfAC great Green Jobs for All flyer. which also proposes government intervention to address climate–via government-created green jobs (addressing the jobs crisis at the same time). Here’s more encouragement for people to print these up and distribute them at the march.

Ok, that’s it for now. Enjoy the march, for those of you who are going!

–Chris Sturr

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Tuesday Links: CEO Pay, Crisis Costs, Climate March, etc.

by Chris Sturr | September 16, 2014

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(1) Dr. Dollar on the Ex-Im Bank.  Our latest piece from the (still in production) Sept/Oct issue: Arthur “Dr. Dollar” MacEwan answers this question from D&S reader Arne Alpert: “Congressional Republicans and the Heritage Foundation are making a big deal about the Export-Import Bank, calling it “crony capitalism.” Are they right? Does the Ex-Im Bank serve a useful purpose, or is it just propping up the profits of trans-national corporations?”

(2) Susan Holmberg and Mark Schmitt, The Overpaid CEOInteresting piece that focuses on the costs of high CEO pay. When CEOs get huge paychecks, “the company is choosing to pay executives instead of doing other things—distributing revenues to shareholders, raising wages for workers, or reinvesting in the business. But the greater cost may be the risky behavior that very high pay encourages CEOs to engage in, especially when pay is tied to short-term corporate performance.” This piece resonates with our July/August cover story, Marianne Hill’s Taming the Corporate Beast.

(3) David Cay Johnston, Corporate DeadbeatsThe awesome DCJ has a cover story in Newsweek, which is back in print as of March (it stopped last December). The subtitle: How Companies Get Rich Off Of Taxes.” Key quote: “How can a tax burden become a boon? Simple. Congress lets multinationals earn profits today but pay their taxes by-and-by. In effect, Uncle Sam is loaning these companies all that money they do not immediately turn over as taxes. And all of these loans come with the same attractive interest rate: zero.” Great article; I’m not sure I like “Off Of” in the subtitle, though. Did Newsweek lay their editors off between December and March?

(4) Abby Scher, At Least Some Unions Step Up for Big Climate MarchFormer D&S co-editor Abby Scher had this piece at Truthout on Sunday. Choice quote: “The transit workers are my personal heroes of the climate justice movement; when you encounter members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 while flyering for the march on city streets, not only are they already on board, they often have something to say about the state of a world that doesn’t deal with the reality of climate change.”

(5) National Jobs for All Coalition, Green Jobs for All flyer.  Hat-tip to Trudy Goldberg for this flyer that folks from the National Jobs for All Coalition will be handing out at this weekend’s Climate March in NYC. Print some up and hand them out if you’re going to the march!  ”Creating green jobs would solve both environmental and unemployment crises—as well as decrease our growing economic inequality.”

(6) Americans for Financial Reform, Cost of the Crisis:  A briefing paper from AFR, to mark the sixth (!) anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing. A summary:

Cost of the Crisis – An Updated Reckoning, Six Years After the Lehman Bros. Bankruptcy

On the sixth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing (Sep. 15, 2008), the financial crisis is still severely affecting our economy. Today, Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) released an updated compilation of the quantifiable costs of the financial crisis. A few highlights:

  • The Dallas Federal Reserve estimates the total U.S. economic output loss from the financial crisis and its aftermath will eventually be $6 trillion to $14 trillion, or $50,000 to $120,000 for every U.S. household.
  • Median household wealth in 2013 was $81,200, down 40.0% from $135,400 in 2007 before the financial crisis began (numbers in inflation-adjusted, 2013 dollars). Federal Reserve 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, Table 4.
  • From the beginning of the recovery in 2009 through the end of 2013, wage rates decreased for the bottom 90 percent of workers, despite productivity growth of 4.8 percent over that period. On the other hand, the stock market and corporate profits (adjusted for inflation) have both surpassed their pre-recession peak. EPI.
  • More than five years after the recession officially ended, the unemployment rate (U-3) stands at 6.1 percent as of August 2014, up from a pre-crisis rate of 4.7 percent (in November 2007). Long-term unemployment remains at near-record levels. The typical (median) unemployed worker still takes over three months to exit unemployment – a longer period than has ever been observed during any recession period since World War II. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • At the end of the second quarter of 2014, 8.7 million households remained underwater on their mortgages, representing one out of every six homes with mortgage debt. The average negative equity amount for underwater homeowners was $72,381, or 34.8% more than the home’s worth. In most markets, the largest part of the negative equity is in lower priced homes ­­– 28 percent of the least expensive third of homes were underwater compared to 9 percent in the top tier.  Zillow.

With $613 billion in debts, the Lehman bankruptcy was the largest bankruptcy in US history and a defining moment of the financial crisis.

That’s it for now.

–Chris Sturr

 

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