using the economic stimulus package to accelerate the greening of america

I just received the following note from the global warming advocacy group 1 Sky. The MLK connection may be a bit forced, but I really like their idea of tying the inevitable Economic Stimulus Package that Congress is going to pass too green technology, renewable energy, mass transit, and the associated job training. Here’s their suggestion:

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 40 years ago in Memphis, he was calling for a campaign that would unite the poor and working classes of all races behind a shared economic future. Today, in the face of global warming, persistent poverty, widening income gaps, increasing outsourcing, and economic instability, it is time to unite around a vision of shared economic prosperity in a clean, green America. It’s time for Dr. King’s dream to be reborn, not only to meet the still-lingering challenges of his time but also the unique challenges of ours.

Today, as Congress prepares a giant Economic Stimulus Package, there is no better way to honor Dr. King’s memory and continue his struggle than to demand that Congress go green and go equal in the stimulus. We have the unique opportunity to promote green-collar jobs and pathways out of poverty through targeted investments in energy efficiency, mass transit, and a Clean Energy Corps to provide Americans with jobs and service opportunities to reduce energy consumption, boost our economy, and tackle climate change. We have a unique window of opportunity — please take action and honor Martin Luther King Jr. today!

Click here to sign a petition urging Congress to go Green for All in the Economic Stimulus Plan.

We have an opportunity to act boldly to strengthen American energy independence, invest in clean and sustainable energy sources, and take aim at global warming — all while putting hundreds of thousands of Americans to work. Help spread the word and put pressure on Congress to focus on solutions to the recession that also achieve longer-term economic prosperity, equal opportunity, and a sustainable energy economy…

My New Year’s resolution was not to sign any more online petitions, but I think this is a brilliant idea. Hopefully they get some traction with it.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 22, 2008 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m just overly cynical, but this smells like a Bushie trojan horse to me.

    “Oh, of course the stimulus package is going to take the form of massive tax cuts and investment incentives targeted at the wealthy and at large corporations – there’s just no question about that. But, look, what if we attach the word ‘green’ to it? We can still send all of this money to our friends at GE and BP, but we can do all that while getting credit for helping out the environment!”

    Sure, that sounds fantastic. But how about a counter-point, from Salon.com’s environment & globalization writer Andrew Leonard?

    most economists are saying pretty much the same thing: Get some tangible cash into the hands of those Americans who need it most and would spend it quickly, boosting overall demand and giving the economy a kick in the pants. In practical terms, a rescue package could include such elements as tax rebates, an extension of unemployment benefits, and higher food-stamp allowances.
    . . .
    When you’re looking for short-term help, making life easier for business doesn’t deliver much of a wallop to the economy. Nor does making tax cuts (which primarily benefited the well-off) permanent.

    No, not even if that aid to business and the wealthy is greenwashed before being giftwrapped. (Or maybe I just need more coffee…)

  2. Kelton
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    You’re right. I’ve read the same things over the years. Tax breaks to industry don’t impact the economy nearly as much as putting a few more dollars into the pockets of lower and middle income Americans. They put the money they have into circulation immediately. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s necessarily a bad thing for the federal government to take this opportunity to jumpstart green industry. I personally like the idea of mass transit public works projects. Sure, giving some more to people in their annual tax returns may temporarily get our economy chugging along for a while, but it’s a short term fix. We need to look further out than just the next few quarters. We need to invest in wind, solar, mass transit and all the rest of it.

  3. mark
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Agreed.

  4. John on Forest
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    This is most certainly a trojan horse of some sort.

    We don’t need any “stimulus” package for long term economic health, per se. Most economic expansions last for five to ten years and don’t need specific stimulus. However, every five to ten years we encounter a slowdown in the economy. When such a slowdown occurs a short term stimulus for the economy mitigates the pain of recession by making it shorter and providing relief for those who become most affected by the slowdown, i.e. extending unemployment benefits.

    Long term we do need tax policies and incentives to drive our economy in directions that are beneficial and/or desirable. So policies that support green directions for our economy are something I wholeheartedly support.

    In the mean time, the stimulus package should be directed towards getting cash into the hands of consumers and getting it there as fast as possible. Investment in things like mass transit will do nothing to significantly stimulate the economy in the next six to twelve months.

    I think the proposed idea is really bad.

  5. Juli
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    This stimulus package is useless without more of a direction. People will need to spend it on something that is going to be a Win Win for the all. I plan to buy an American made bicycle so that I will energize my body and soul through better health, keep my gas money in my pocketbook, cut down on fuel emissions, and promote the American economy. Taking it one step further, I think we need tax incentives for people who are making better choices of spending their stimulus package money on American products or Green products, so that we all keep reaping the benefits.

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