Improve the Green New Deal: Eliminate its Massive Growth and Neoliberalism
Podcast Summary: The biggest problem is infinite growth, not fossil fuels. We can create more jobs by reducing the work week with zero intensification of labor. This is a transcription of a podcast in which two long-time environmentalists (Don Fitz and Stan Cox) show how the Green New Deal (GND) can be improved by limiting, not massively expanding, the growth of the economy and by reducing the neoliberal components of the GND. Neoliberalism means you solve problems by turning everything over to private corporations whenever possible instead of encouraging the government to play an active role.
Here is the link to the 49-minute podcast: Dan Young Interviews Don Fitz and Stan Cox
Dan Young: This is Dan Young and today I'm going to be speaking [separately] to two long-time environmental activists and writers about the Green New Deal (GND). In early February 2019, freshman New York Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) introduced House Resolution 109 titled "Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green New Deal." 89 other Democratic Congresspeople have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, which seeks to simultaneously turn the tide on American carbon emissions while also uplifting millions from poverty and providing greater economic security nationwide. The concept of a Green New Deal dates back at least as far as 2008 when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned a report in response to what it said were global crises that year in the areas of food, security, fuel, and financial markets. The Global Green New Deal Report was released in 2009 for the United Nations Environment Programme's Green Economy Initiative.
In the ensuing decades, different proposals for a GND have been put out by Green parties in Europe and the U.S. as well as by other environmental advocates. But many versions of the GND, including House Resolution 109, share a component that concerns some environmentalists. Most GND proposals are based on an assumption that economic and industrial production must significantly expand in both the U.S. and globally. House Resolution 109 calls for significant growth in U.S. manufacturing. AOC's office says the goal of the GND is a "gigantic expansion of our productive economy," which would also require "building new industries at a rapid pace."
Economic and industrial growth usually requires resource extraction and habitat loss leading to mass extinction of organisms, destruction of unique ecosystems, and the depletion of non-renewable resources. This is why some environmentalists are critical of economic and industrial growth, including the growth called for in the Green New Deal. Today I will talk about this situation with two environmental activists and writers who have worked on these issues for years.
This is Dan Young and I'm going to be speaking with Don Fitz about the GND. Don is from St. Louis, Missouri, where he has taught Environmental Psychology at Washington University and Fontbonne University as well as other psychology courses at colleges and universities in the St. Louis area. Don has also been involved in Green Party politics in Missouri, and in recent years he has run for both governor and state auditor on the Green Party, USA ticket.
Don has also written on a variety of environmental issues for publications including the St Louis Post Dispatch, the Houston Chronicle, Telesur, Z Magazine, Alternet, and CounterPunch, I first discovered Don Fitz and his environmental writings when I was researching online for articles that contained critical analysis from an ecological and environmentalist perspective of GND proposals. I came upon a 2014 article by Don at the website Climate and Capitalism. It was titled "How Green is the Green New Deal?" That article was also published by CounterPunch. The 2014 article by Don provides a history and critical analysis of different GND proposals developed in America and Europe since the start of the 2008 global recession. So thanks for speaking with me today, Don.
Don Fitz: Oh, thanks a lot for having me on.
Dan Young: So, why don't you give a brief overview of how you got involved in environmental writing and activism.
Don Fitz: Well, I have been involved in social justice issues ever since I was 17 or 18. First opposing the Vietnam War. Then supporting union rights. Then against apartheid in South Africa, and racism in the United States--all sorts of civil rights issues. And so it was just a natural for me when I started hearing about the Green Party to get involved in things like stopping incinerators and all sorts of toxic production.
Dan Young: So why don't you talk about how you came to write that 2014 article on "How Green is the New Deal."
(4:29) Don Fitz: For me there is one overriding issue that has preoccupied my life for the last 20 years at least. And that is the fact that you can fight just about every environmental battle--there might be some exceptions--but in the overwhelming majority [of cases] you can fight with a two word slogan and that is "Stop it!" I noticed that in one environmental issue that I was involved in after another, there was some corporation that what we wanted them to do was to just stop what they were doing.
And by the early 2000s I realized that there was a problem with the production of everything. It's not just that bad things are being produced, but things are being produced to fall apart more rapidly. I'm 70 years old, and I can remember that the things I bought in the 1960s and 1970s would basically last forever, but they tare now no longer manufactured. Electronic parts are [now] designed to fall apart in a few months or at most in a year or two. So I (5:33) realized that you can't produce all the components of a cell phone and everything else and design them to go out of style and have all of these chemical elements that go into them and not be polluting the earth at the time that they are thrown away or dismantled. So when I heard about the GND I started to read about it and I realized that it is a program to expand production, not to decrease production.
Dan Young: Let me interject here. When you talk about the GND that you heard about that is prior to this 2014 article that you wrote, what is the context of who was generating the GND at that point?
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