Every year, every quarter, every month, the conventional economists either praise the increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or anxiously wring their hands because the economy has not expanded enough. Expansion requires two key elements: a constant search for the lowest possible wages and an unending supply of raw materials – particularly fossil fuels, but also fertile soil and fresh water, and sometimes, creatures who live on the earth and in the seas.
While there are still places on the planet where people will take any job they can get, the ability to extract more energy resources gets riskier, and the environment’s capacity to absorb more waste is fast approaching zero. Reaching the outer limits of expansion threatens all of life on the planet. That reality is why many people are now calling for an “ecological civilization” as an alternative to more exploitation and extraction, one that offers another pathway for human civilization to take.
Last week President Obama gave a speech at Knox College in Illinois in which he announced plans to return his focus to the economy. The agenda he outlined centered on policies to rebuild the middle class leading to growth from the middle out as he put it.
The basic idea sounds good. There are few who would take issue with the focus of his policies: improving the nation’s infrastructure, better school to work transitions, high quality pre-school for everyone. These ideas all score very high in opinion polls and focus groups, although there might be serious differences on what they mean concretely.
But even if we can agree on the best way to rebuild our infrastructure, better our schools, and guarantee high quality pre-school education we will still face serious economic problems well into the future for the simple reason that the economy lacks demand. Generating demand has to be issue one,
In How Enterprise Zones Are Killing the California Dream, Frying Pan investigative reporter Gary Cohn looked at the impact of the controversial program, including workers who lost their jobs while their former employers received tax breaks for hiring lower-paid replacements. He also reported on two strip clubs revealed to have benefited from the secretive program. Other media have picked up the story as well, building momentum for an overhaul. A more detailed overview of the Governor’s plan can be found here. The following post first appeared in the blog Labor’s Edge.
To some politicians, economic development means giving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to strip clubs, fast food joints and retail giants like Walmart. Gov. Brown, thankfully, has a better idea. Today, the Governor announced a broad coalition of labor, business and others in support of his good jobs plan that will flip the broken enterprise zone program into real incentives for creating quality,
In How Enterprise Zones Are Killing the California Dream, Frying Pan investigative reporter Gary Cohn looked at the impact of the controversial program, including workers who lost their jobs while their former employers received tax breaks for hiring lower-paid replacements. He also reported on two strip clubs revealed to have benefited from the secretive program. The governor and legislators have now put forward proposals to reform the program or replace it with other economic development programs. This post originally appeared in Labor’s Edge.
You’ve probably seen the stories by now: Enterprise zone tax breaks, which are supposed to provide incentives for good jobs, are instead going to strip clubs and low-wage mega corporations like Walmart.
The current enterprise zone program is shrouded in secrecy, with virtually no accountability or transparency. Study after study shows the program is a massive failure,
Turning over the calendar makes me think about nature. Partly, because it marks the end of one cycle of our lives and the beginning of another. Partly because at our house we literally take one calendar off the wall, look through its photographs of beautiful places, and replace it with a new one with its own photos of the world’s natural beauty that we will uncover one month at a time. The ritual reminds me that the earth is filled with beauty which we humans must sustain because it sustains us.
The problem, of course, is that in our drive for “progress” and “economic growth” we are drawing down too many resources too fast and making messes despoiling not only the earth’s beauty but also her capacity to keep us alive. Every day the news carries stories of waste, trash, unhealthy water, shrinking arctic ice and aberrant weather patterns.