Regarding the stimulus packages’ potential for bypassing unskilled workers and the chronically unemployed, Reich says:
… if there aren't enough skilled professionals to do the jobs involving new technologies, the stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most -- women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed -- will be shut out. (Ibid)
And, here we go again: there is a distinct possibility that any stimulus package requiring skilled trades will bypass those who do not already possess those skills. Unless there is a mandatory training component attached to the legislation we will miss one of the best opportunities in half a century to train massive pools of chronically unemployed or underemployed workers for new technologies and the “Green Economy.”
The current crisis gives those chronically under and unemployed workers, particularly the people of color in the nation’s ghettos, a major opportunity for bootstrapping their way out of poverty. However, as one activist noted, it’s not going to be easy.
Speaking of the limitations of President Barack Obama and the need for self-reliance to a group of chronically unemployed black men in an urban library, activist Van Jones, founder of Green for All, noted:
"I love Barack Obama," he said. "I'd pay money just to shine the brother's shoes. But I'll tell you this. Do you hear me? One man is not going to save us. I don't care who that man is. He's not going to save us. And, in fact, if you want to be real about this - can y'all take it? I'm going to be real with y'all. Not only is Barack Obama not going to be able to save you - you are going to have to save Barack Obama." (Elizabeth Kobert, “Greening the Ghetto”, The New Yorker, 1-12-09)
Jones is a firm believer that the Green Economy has the potential for a massive infusion of money into the black community in the form of jobs, renovation, construction, invention and investment. Most importantly, when it comes to providing solutions to the energy crisis, he sees no reason why these inventions and new technologies can’t originate in the nation’s inner cities and ghettos.
Why, he says, can’t we save ourselves? Why do we think the solution to our problems have to come from outside our communities?