Points to ponder for candidates
Written for a specific candidate, but useful for all candidates.
The economy is in a big mess. There is a conventional wisdom about what to do about it in general, and in RI in specific. I believe that much of the conventional wisdom is just flat out wrong, and following the standard prescriptions will make things worse.
If you have read economic development reports from the various agencies of government and the RIPEC’s and EDC’s of the world, you have read the standard formula. Grow Bio tech, Grow High tech, Grow this, grow that in the knowledge economy. then cut taxes on the wealthy.
If this worked so well, why do they come out with the same report time and again?
Everyone talks about wanting the economy to be sustainable. The Brundtland report pointed out that sustainable economies put a priority on the needs of the poor and the health of the ecosystems that support life on earth. Often those familiar with Brundtland and sustainability in general mix in the standard formula for economic growth without understanding the contradictions. RI clearly falls into the camp of wanting sustainability without understanding it. What you get is both original and within the main stream of the ecological economics school of thought founded by Herman Daly.
I only have part of a plan, but more importantly I have written something here to help you start to rethink how you approach economic development and a sustainable economy. Read it as points to ponder not a final plan. Each section can be taken alone, and in concert with those that surround it. Often even within sections there is a paragraph with a number of only semi connected ideas. It is just points to ponder, not a polished essay. Might be best to read each section and think about it for a bit before tackling the next. Because life is round often topics have to be addressed partly over here, and partly over there. Sometimes there is repetition or sentences that would have been better in some other place. Keep pondering. It is not footnoted. It is based on observation and I expect you will find many holes. But maybe it can help you avoid the traps. Happy to discuss this further if that is useful to you and the candidate.
Points to ponder
The big picture
The goal is to bring a general prosperity to Rhode Island. Too often it is assumed that simple growth is all that is necessary to bring prosperity. That more will always be good. When people were few and the world unexplored that could have appeared to be true, but in a world of 7 billion people, with ecosystem collapse all around us, growth becomes part of the problem, especially when growth is part and parcel of growing economic inequality. Do not confuse prosperity and growth. Prosperity is when the least among us are doing okay, which does not seem to be happening in a growth oriented system.
The basis for the first statement may be contained in this second statement: You can not end poverty without healing ecosystems, you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty. At this point growth causes harm to the ecosystems of planet Earth, with the effects being felt by the poor first as they lose access to traditional resources. Use less, share more may be a more useful approach if we intend to create a general prosperity
I realize that this discussion is really about the RI economy, but we can not forget the global context. The further marginalization of the poor and the global race to the bottom causes many people to live in more and more marginal habitats, which are then stressed by people taking out what resources they can just to survive. Land reform and letting native peoples retain their land is of critical importance in ending poverty and keeping ecosystems healthy and US support for the corporate order continues to contribute to the destruction of communities and the planet. Rectifying these injustices not only benefits the communities on the other side of the world, it also benefits the American people and workers.
We also should not forget that the globalization of the economy has sapped much of the employment out of RI.
The original wealth of the ruling classes of the planet came about through the violent conquest of land. The wealth gap has now moved to other arenas, but it continues to be upheld by violence.
Too much stuff here while not enough for half the world
When conversing with people with some sort of knowledge of the critical state the planet is in, one of the arguments that we hear about the possibilities for growth, is that miniaturization will allow us to have more stuff while using fewer resources. Unfortunately this has never proven to be the case. It is true that each individual widget might have lesser amounts of resources in it. The device can be smaller, use less energy, do more with less. But then the goal always becomes to sell more of them so that ultimately there is never less throughput, and therefore resources and sinks are used up and polluted at a greater rate.
This same general argument is used by folks justifying obsessions with High Tech or bio tech, or any of the other fads of the year that proliferate in the minds of those concerned with economic development. The sages of the state house always say that this growth, or that growth is specifically desirable and sustainable, and it always comes out of the knowledge economy. So far none of it is sustainable, nor has it really helped RI.
There is already way too much human made stuff on this planet. Sept 25 was Overshoot day in 2009 which means that is the day people on Earth have taken all of the biological production of the planet for the year for their own use. This means that people use over 130% of the yearly planetary productivity for themselves, which leaves less than nothing for all other life. It is only the immense size of the earth, and its incredible productivity, that have allowed us to over draw the bank account for so long, but the forests are now 50% gone.
The role of government
In this age of privatization the powerful take every opportunity to question the role and wisdom of government. It is not always the politic thing to say it, but the role of government is to represent the voiceless and those with no power so as to prevent their destruction and abuse and to foster their prosperity. Saying this may not win elections, but governing without this as one of the stars to steer by causes great harm to the community. It also directly contravenes a human history in which the powerful have always taken more, always backed by the threat or practice of violence, That basic human politics, the threat of violence behind the words, is still reflected in our system to our continuing detriment.
No one votes for politicians who promise that folks and their kids will freeze in the dark. And traditionally politicians have to uphold the current order to get elected, especially in this age of media money politics. A candidate understanding the situation must present a plausible path to a new form of prosperity and that is a hard message to run on. So candidates fall back into the morass of the old economic myths and the cult of more that got us into this mess. But this is the 21st century and we need a new way.
Not speaking the truth about the economy/ecology intersection/collision sets up an administration for total failure because it will spend all of its time ignoring the elephant in the room, the elephant being that our present approach that requires ever faster growth just to stay even is leading us off the cliff and we are closer and closer to the edge moving at faster and faster speeds. Ignore the ecology and the failure will be like that of the current administration of RI, a state with a big budget deficit and third in the nation in unemployment.
There are new paths to prosperity, but one of the biggest obstacles to traveling them is the myths, well tuned to our primate heritage, but no longer useful in a crowded world, that are beamed at us by the already wealthy. Foisted upon us for so long and so pervasively, in ways that play so well into previously planted myths that speaking the truth is dangerous. Madison Avenue has studied human behavior long enough that they have learned how to tap into the primate strata of the human mind and turn on urges and desires that they pretend you can fix by buying something. Then they sell us candidates who will keep the money flowing to the elite.
Understanding these deep layers of the human mind means acknowledging human evolution, which is very difficult in the anti science atmosphere that we find ourselves in. But even in this age of denial about evolution, there are biological, imbedded genetic programming reasons for some of the dysfunction in human societies. We find places where a body designed for ……. is still encoded in us, but a world of 7 billion people and diminishing planetary resources requires us to adapt culturally even when biologically we resist. Opening minds is hard, but needed today.
Our solutions need to account for the evolutionary resistance we find to changing diets and consumption patterns as well as the role of violence. Only speaking truth to power, understanding the power relationships and hierarchy and how it relates to both the planetary condition and the human condition provides the tools for intelligent action. Can you expand the discussion beyond the usual ruses we use to discuss the nature of power in human societies and get to its heart?
Shrinking the economy
The way to a general prosperity is to shrink the economy and move it towards greater equity. Making it all bigger forever leaves out the planet and other life, and does not seem to get us to equity, justice, and peace. Growing the economy means continued dysfunction. This is not to say that continued manipulations can not make it seem like we are having growth, things like the stimulus and bank bail out will have some short term growth effects, but over the medium term, growth is essentially over, especially for working people.
This means those who do not have enough (like the billion people who go to bed hungry most days) must get more, requiring the rest of us to shrink our consumption sufficiently so as to provide that opportunity while at the same time healing ecosystems so that they can continue to feed us. You can imagine the resistance by the haves to this scenario and their usual reaction. Weapons manufacturers have always been wealthy men. We can not draw resources out of places where people are hungry.
The housing bubble and the Wall St bubble were driven, at least in part, because ecological collapse: deforestation, emptying oceans, dead zones in the oceans, loss of agricultural lands and soils, global warming, depletion of oil and other minerals. The fact that more than half the people on the planet live in cities, makes it much harder to find quick financial profits in the real economy (they are already consumers spending every penny they have and you can not add them to the consumer economy again) and therefore the manipulation of money becomes all the wealthy can do to make themselves wealthier. In the past there was some tangible thing to do, so the wealthy went into farming, manufacturing, trade or services. Now the wealthiest only manipulate money. They go from one bubble to the next sucking more and more electronic money into their orbit. This gives them the power to command resources divorced from the realities of the planet. This over drawing on the wealth of the people and planet to fill the coffers of the rich leaves most of us poorer because the planet has less to give with each imperial crash and bubble and a greater percentage of what we use each year is based on planetary depletion.
Instead of bailing out the banks, the best way to bail out the real economy, and place much less stress on the ecosystems of the planet, would have been to let all the phony wealth that evaporated when the bubble burst stay evaporated. Houses would have been worth a lot less, so just adjust all the mortgages to reflect their real value, not their bubble value, and let the banks and the investor class eat the losses. Then have less ability to command resources divorced from the physical reality we face. Unfortunately every possible remedy has been taken just to reinflate house prices so that the worthless financial instruments would be worth something. Then we can borrow money and grow faster again. Until we can not.
A society that primarily uses debt to boost its economy can never become sustainable as the economy has to grow faster and faster just to pay the interest on the debt. The speed up appears to be reflected not just in the economy, but appears to bleed over into the lives of everyone including children. Destroy the forest, watch the children become obese, consume another fishery. Use less, share more.
A society that primarily uses debt to boost its economy can never become sustainable as the economy has to grow faster and faster just to pay the interest on the debt.
Be very clear just what is sustainable. Everyone makes claims about being sustainable, but the reality is that very few things that are claimed to be sustainable actually are. What we do is occasionally slow down the rate of destruction, but rarely do we reverse the damage and start to actually heal ecosystems. If it does not actually heal ecosystems, it is not sustainable. The term comes out of the wildlife management field and its concept of sustainable yield. How many deer can you shoot each year given the circumstances so that the population of the deer herd swings gently about a stable mean. In other words you can have the same number of deer and harvest the same number of deer essentially forever ( or at least as long as the climate does not change and the water run out.) Concept is also used in fisheries, forestry, agriculture/herding.
It is essentially true, you can have sustained yields if you pay attention. Sustainable was codified by the Brundtland report on sustainability. The report says the needs of the poor must be the priority, and making sure that the ecosystems are first not damaged so that we can continue to eat is critical. It is not sustainable to just slow down the rate of destruction. We need more, and older forests and fish each year. please do not use the term unless you really mean it. Only if we are sustainable with biologically renewable resources can we be sustainable.
Forests in New England generally add about 3% of their standing volume each year in wood. Maybe we should think more about what an expectation of a 3% return on investment for our economy would be, you know, matching the rate of growth each year that could be harvested sustainably in the ecosystem that is our home. Asking for more than that rate depletes ecosystems.
Under a borrowed money system you have to harvest more than 3%, get more than the 3% return on investment to live on. You need to pay/cut the 4% to the lender on top of that just to stay even. You can cut someone else’s forest under those conditions so that your local forest grows, but it still destroys forests, ecosystems, and communities. Consider 3% as a cap on ROI and what it might do to move us towards sustainability. Yes, Wall St would have a cow. But extracting a 10% ROI is eating the planet.
Agriculture and food security belong in a central position when thinking about paths to prosperity in the 21st century. Global climate change (especially the loss of irrigation water) and the end of oil mean the food system will be changing massively over the next few decades. Local food may be most of the overall food. Not preparing for this now is to overlook an economic opportunity for the present and to overlook the responsible position for the future.
Organic agriculture is a great carbon sequester. Turn what we now consider waste into compost and we can build soil, feed our communities, create work to employ people, all while reducing our carbon footprint. Small farmers around the world would like to have the opportunity to feed their communities and countries again with techniques that do not deplete soil and water resources rather than be forced into shanty towns while global corporations attempt to farm in ways that deplete soils to grow commodities for global markets and massively contribute to global warming. Organic local oriented agriculture is growing faster than any other sector of the RI economy. The number of farmers in RI increased 42% in the last decade.
There is always talk about the Green economy, but this sector of the Green Economy is seriously neglected as a good jobs generator because the economy has been structured around cheap food and subsidies for corporate agriculture rather than with farming as a true livelihood in our communities. It has only been 100 years that farming has been downgraded in the US , and in much of the world the changeover is much more recent, and often driven by US corporate muscle backed up by US military muscle. It is amazing how US military muscle seems to be so pervasive in support of the extraction of more natural resources and the creation of consumers, and nearly always in ways that make the security situation worse, and increase the amount of money flowing into the military industrial complex to try to stop the blowback.
Everything we do to prevent global warming that eliminates fossil fuel use and fosters democracy and justice will be better for our economy than any other use of that money.
That is important enough to repeat.
Everything we do to prevent global warming that eliminates fossil fuel use and fosters democracy and justice will be better for our economy than any other use of that money.
We need not only a technological solution such as wind mills and solar panels, we need changes in behavior. We need to undo the cult of more, and we need freedom from the propaganda fed to us by those who most benefit from inequality and destruction of the planet.
Build the physical infrastructure of a new energy future, one that has zero carbon emissions, but also make sure that siting facilities does not run over communities and that the benefits of clean power are widely dispersed. This is the Green jobs everyone is talking about. The one that may or may not be more important than the ones created around healing the earth and harvesting food. The new energy industry requires a transparent and accessible political process. RI has some of that, but there are gaps. The gaps are due to the political games driven by big money. Can you run against the lobbyists and the corporations? Can you fund such a campaign?
Remember that going Green just so that we can use more is self defeating. A green economy needs to be smaller and fairer. And remember that this is only a part of the green economy, ultimately probably a smaller part than reinhabiting the landscape in ways that encourage ecosystem development while we harvest some of the interest. Windmills will replace oil and gas, but too often the assumption is that it will just be a new way to have more. Do not fall into that trap.
Transportation, as part of a larger ecological economic system, needs a complete redo, with much less focus on private cars and less need for people to go far to meet their needs. Not only clean efficient vehicles, but an economy closer to home to reduce the amount of stuff shipped around the world. And the miles flown.
The routine transportation of goods, including the basic necessities of life, thousands of miles makes the entire economy more subject to disruption, more fragile, and less likely to benefit the community. It also contributes massively to global warming. I know it is hard to imagine such a thing, but it is part of our future. so it is time to eat local.
A transportation system built around trucks and the private automobile destroys resources at a faster rate than any other through road building, sprawl, water pollution, deforestation and wasteful building techniques.
This transformation from oil to clean, from private to community/mass is a key factor in using less sharing more. and a great jobs generator. Rebuild this infrastructure while there is oil to do it. Waiting will make it tougher. More Green jobs. Everyone is talking about it, You do not need this from me.
People are going to fly a lot less. Cost and carbon. TF Green Airport does not need to expand. It is just not going to be that important no matter what RIAC says. Localization is here to stay.
Forests and other natural resources
I made this one up: It is only sort of a joke. We have just enough petroleum left to complete the deforestation of the planet. it is probably not true, but it is something to ponder.
Forests precede civilization, deserts follow. An old saying, but one that shows itself to be true every day with shrinking forests and growing deserts across the globe.
Immanuel Wallerstein in his world system points out that the growth of global capitalism has been dependent upon the exploiting of new forests for the low cost natural resources within and the incorporation of the displaced rural people (the ones that are not killed defending their homes) as new workers in the modern industrial capitalist system. Deforestation has mushroomed over the last 100 years, as has the growth of cities, to the point where we have lost more than half the global forest and more than half the people on the planet now live in cities. That we have recently passed the 50% threshold in both those numbers has some great importance, but it might only be karmic. Wallerstein opines that those two numbers are tipping points and that growth is running out the string because the rate of destruction has to go faster just to stay in place. When the forests and their new resources are gone and the migration of the non urban dwellers to the city ends because they have all moved to the city, growth ends. Wallerstein suggested, knowing that he could not predict the future, that we have about 30 more years before collapse.
Wallerstein may just be an academic speculator, but I suggest there is much to what he says and that an administration that plans for growth forever is in a trap.
RI may seem to be a place with limited forest potential, but it is greater than the industry as it now stands, for a variety of reasons. RI’s forest could never stand to be cut the way places that are part of the global wood market are cut. In those places cut often exceeds growth by 3 to 1 on a year to year basis. But 2% of the growth could be cut each year while expanding the amount of wood available the next year. With forests disappearing we could do our part, and with shipping costs going nothing but up, use a local resource locally. People forget how critical forest resources are in our society, our HI tech age, but they buttress the entire economy, from paper to shipping pallets to construction materials. .
About 68% of the world’s major fishing grounds are being depleted with fewer and smaller fish being available each year and those people who depend upon local fish for their protein becoming hungrier and hungrier each year,.Fisheries that are healthy are strongly regulated based on good science and leave key areas protected and unfished. RI knows this. You can actually increase sustainable yields in many fisheries if done well, and the rising temperatures do not put you out of business.
Biological Resources in the global market place
No biologically renewable natural resource can stand up to the global market place. Any time a resource is entered into the global market place depletion begins almost immediately and if regulations and limitations on take are not enforced, within a few years the resource is massively diminished. A simple example is the take off of new fisheries in Maine in the late 1980’s and early 1990;s as the ability to send relatively fresh seafood from Maine to China and Japan became feasible. Species after species became overfished nearly overnight, and regulations were created to manage the catch. Sea urchins and elvers are the examples that come to mind, Is Krill next? And then what? How about rainforests being traded for soybeans?
A variety of the key minerals used in all high tech devices are becoming rarer and harder to find. Minerals like Coltan ( a key component of cell phones) in the Congo are a key factor driving some of the cruelest and most vicious wars on the planet. In other cases minerals are being subjected to export controls so that the home countries of the mines can maintain supplies for domestic production and to get a leg up on high tech manufacturers in competing countries. (Free Trade is a Fraud) Even common metals and minerals (iron, copper, oil) are tapping out and are therefore being exploited in less and less rich deposits, increasing the pollution associated mining and using more energy and other resources to achieve the same level of production. 26% of all the copper in the earths crust is already in use. Rare Earths are used in all high tech devices. Mining was projected to fall short of needs by 40,000 tons per year within 10 years, but that was before China threatened export controls. Now California and Vietnam are making plans to open mines, which will alleviate the symptoms for a few more years, but pull us further and further into an ecological down spiral seeking faster and faster growth with fewer and fewer materials to satisfy the desires. It will be interesting indeed if rare earths turn out to be a limiting factor in the ever greater search for growth. The flip side is that China is desperate for iron.
The military industrial complex
A huge percentage of the money spent on the war machine is spent to maintain the flow of oil. In a world threatened by global warming, killing people for oil makes even less sense than otherwise. Leave the oil in the soil. The Pentagon uses more oil for its operations than most countries use for everything. As much as the 90 million people of the Philippines. The karmic connection here is that in the 2009 Hurricane Season the Philippines got hit by 4 hurricane in a month.
Spending money on on the military industrial complex and the empire provides fewer jobs than almost any alternative spending of that same money. The benefits of war and the war machine flow to a very small percentage of the population, who unfortunately are willing to kill, even members of their own community, to maintain their power.
The war machine creates fewer jobs per dollar than almost anything else. Arms makers and base management contractors are almost guaranteed obscene profits by corrupt military procurement systems. The profits in the business are one of the reasons for the mythologies that spring up around war culture, and the glorification of war in our and many societies. Without the mythology why would any one stand for such a system?
Here is an interesting quote from an un named South American government official in the late 1980’s.
“One of the biggest burdens on the countries of southern South America is that they maintain enormous armies which—apart from undesirable Falklands wars—are there mainly to fight against their own peoples. A former South American finance minister has said: ‘I cannot cut my budget deficit without abolishing my unnecessary army; but the unnecessary army exists largely to stop people like me from cutting the budget deficit by abolishing the army.’
I think that captures the situation quite well.
Economic conversion can work and create jobs while shrinking the overall economy because the military economy is bloated, corrupt, and unneeded since it is the cause of most of the violence.
Anytime the rich have to militarize cities when they meet, to protect them from the workers, they are doing the wrong thing. If globalization was such a good thing the rich would not need armies to protect them from the supposed beneficiaries of the system.
Relocalize the economy
Investment in local production for local needs provides more benefit to the community. The more money recirculates in a community before leaving town, the better. Global supply chains make that difficult, with reduced production costs driven by giant retailers putting local merchants carrying local goods out of business, at a huge cost in fossil fuel and local vitality. The global economy is cheap today, but very expensive tomorrow. Consider precaution. The adaptations we make to relocalize will not be harmful. They can only increase our resilience and attractiveness over time. Even if the crazy growth machine cranks up again for two or three years, we shall be much better prepared if we localize more before we head into the next down cycle. Food, natural resources, transportation, and energy are where these discussions have been for a long time. Which is no surprise, they provide the foundation for all economies. Even those manipulated by Wall St.
An over analyzed topic that I need to only mention. Creating a work force for the future means teaching science, non violence, and problem solving skills. That means active kids with healthy diets actively learning things about their society that we do not want to teach these days, such as the evolution of war machine and the state of the planetary ecosystem. The obsession over preparing young people for the jobs of tomorrow is completely undermined by turning schools into standardized test taking facilities and still not teaching science properly.
Life long schooling. Young people for a number of reasons, only a few of which are really under their control, may find school is not for them and by dropping out become part of that work force sector that does hard, boring, dangerous, unfulfilling or what have you work. It is fine for a while for some of the young, but eventually nearly everyone realizes they are capable of something else, something they were not ready for as youth. When that inspiration hits, everyone should have the opportunity to go back to school and learn a new career. The benefits to society are large.
Health care presents us with a perfect example of the traps we get ourselves in by focusing on growth instead of prosperity. The medical industry grew about 2.5 times as fast as the rest of the economy, over the last 30 years. In a recession the employment in the medical industry holds up better than it does in other industries. But it is precisely this growth of the industry, a growth in 50 years from 5% of the economy to 16% of the economy, with predictions that it will approach 25% of the economy in 10 years, that seems to be squeezing the rest of the economy. Even in good times everyone complains they can no longer pay their insurance/medical bills. Medical issues are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the US. Workers stay in dead end jobs because they get health care coverage. 50 million people lack regular access to health care and our system ranks 37th in the world in health care delivery. The politics I will not describe here. But beyond what to do about the system, here is something that under girds the system in an insidious way.
What you have is a fundamental contradiction between efforts to control the growth of medical spending and the efforts to improve the economy by growing the medical industry. Providence and RI are a classic case, with the state and city and everyone else constantly wrestling with the high price of insurance and medical care while simultaneously looking to grow the medical industrial complex and drive those costs up in the name of jobs. As long as we choose to grow the industry we will have higher costs and more people harmed by or shut out of the medical system. How else would there be growing profits in it? The faster we go, the behinder we get.
Another hole in the American mythology comes about because guaranteed universal health care frees people to work creatively rather than worry about how we shall we afford care when we get sick, and therefore stay in a job that stifles. You want entrepreneurs, come up with a universal system not tied to employment status. Then focus on quality of life and prevention and we shall develop a way it is affordable for all.
Rhode Island remedies
Now that you have pages of things to ponder, I offer a few small suggestions as to what to do to create prosperity in RI.
Primarily these fall into the categories of stop global warming, heal ecosystems, relocalize the economy, create a non violent economy, and affordable health care for all.
Stop global warming
Make this an absolute priority and follow far down the paths it takes you. make it a key centerpiece of redevelopment.
Every building built must produce more energy than is consumed in the building including electricity, cooking and heating the building, and do it while generating zero carbon emissions. Net zero is not enough, each building must produce more energy than it consumes, with zero carbon emissions to meet the needs of the people using the building. This will help us in our adaptation to the carbon free energy system, that will take some time to accomplish. Additionally Rehab every older building in RI to reduce fuel consumption
Even if we think we can electrify all the private autos in the world (do we really just want to replace all those oil wells with windmills, maybe using less overall energy is also important) , we need to back away from the automobile as the center of our transportation system. We need a real mass transit system (fossil fuel free), communities designed so that people do not need autos, and an economy much less dependent upon shipping goods and people around the world. What this takes is dramatically reducing the amount of money put into the road, oil, and protection of oil parts of the economy.
Road building leads to deforestation (read sprawl) even if you use electric vehicles, and deforestation is a massive contributor to global warming emissions. Road building is one of the building blocks of creating an economy that forces people to commute long distances to work because of expensive housing and excessive concentrations of resources. This requires displacing people from the land so natural resources can be incorporated into the economy as nearly free goods. Relocalizing the economy means people will have much less need to travel or commute, and the need to expend energy to ship goods will be dramatically reduced. A 5 year program to help people shift/match up to local jobs instead of having everyone commuting to and fro haphazardly would be a useful component of the transition plan.
Boats and trains are much more energy efficient and can be run much more effectively on clean power than private cars and trucks.
Close most urban areas to automobiles. Stop subsidizing parking, turn parking lots into farms. Stop selling gasoline.
Build windmills in a way that communities welcome them while being clear this is replacing what has gone before. Distribute the harm and benefits equitably and transparently. Focus on community response and adaptation. Solar installations seem to receive less resistance, build more of them.
Just a reminder, ethanol is a hoax.
Restoring ecosystems, marine, aquatic, and terrestrial should be at the heart of economic development efforts, given equal billing with building a new energy and transportation infrastructure. This is what feeds us. . Fish ladders and other efforts to restore fish populations, reforestation, and organic agriculture for local consumption may seem pedestrian, but will create jobs now and feed people in the coming times, while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint. Lets get ahead of the curve.
Yes this means a ratcheting down of the economy, using much less debt in the economy, matching consumption to production rather than appropriating resources from other rural areas as free or nearly free goods. There are obvious places to start. The military industrial complex is one. This sacred cow is a producer of high paying jobs in RI. Aquidneck Island truly depends upon it. But it has got to go. Continuing to spend on the military is bankrupting the country and the planet, as well as making us lots of enemies. It depletes our freedoms, gives controls to fewer and fewer. Encourages torture. as civil liberties are endangered by the fight against the terrorism we create with our policies for the corporate economy mixed in with that old primate violence. Commentators from on Homer have always noted wars were literally opportunities to spread genes and for men to have access to sex and carry home a wife. Now we hope the access to oil will provide money for mistresses.
People have been moved out of farming because it pays less than other jobs when any rural work is devalued by the greedy. Depopulation and devaluing of rural areas is also due to governmental cheap food policies so that people could buy cars and expensive housing and trinkets rather than spending on food. Just another way to shift more money into the hands of Wall ST. Shift all governmental spending on agriculture to that which focuses on the local and organic (organic agriculture helps sequester carbon), end cheap food policies, and return farming to a reasonable employment choice, one that provides enough to meet needs in the community one lives in. Not one focused on global markets.
Compost is the elixir of life. Instead of throwing away all the food waste and other organic materials we generate, we need to comprehensively recycle all of it and put it back on the soil for healing ecosystems and growing food. Organic agriculture and a comprehensive compost system will sequester carbon, create jobs, provide healthier food, reduce transportation costs and energy consumption. It is compatible with windmills and solar facilities, and saves on trash costs as well as extending the life of the landfill. It is a huge resource we are now squandering. Right now the key is the creation of compost facilities. Do it immediately. There are several different ways to structure compost facilities with different products being created by the various types of facilities. Put the right facility in the right place but do not be afraid to test several kinds. We need several in RI.
Every person in RI should have access to gardening space. Community gardens belong in every community. Kids eating healthier are easier to teach in school and more productive. Every school with a large garden producing much of what the kids eat in school.
Relocalize the Economy
People have been trading for as long as we have had language. And we will continue to trade as long as there are languages being spoken and ships to sail the sea. No one wants there to be no commerce around the world. Boats will not go away. But it is only in the last 200 years that communities have tried to live their day to day lives with resources from around the globe rather than produced locally. We have seen wonders in this time, but at a great cost, and with the cost catching up with us more each day. Rhode island is more than capable of producing much more of what it needs. Focus on that. Dramatically reduce what we import and make sure it matches the value of what we export rather than incurring debt. Import things that help us be productive rather than just for consumption.
Food, energy, building materials, clothing, all of the necessities of life can be produced here. Overall it would reduce the size of spending without reducing the quality of life, while creating jobs here. Can I prove it? No. No one has ever attempted in the modern western world to create a non violent economy, an economy based on justice and equality, with ecology and the health of ecosystems built in to every decision. No one has been allowed as that South American official noted. . But keep remembering that most paths that reduce consumption while increasing democracy, justice, and non violence will improve the economy for nearly everyone, not just the wealthy.
Build our windmills and solar power devices here and insulate everything that is currently not as efficient as it could be. This will create some of the blue/green collar jobs that our economy seems unable to produce.
One way to imagine a local economy is as a zero waste economy.
But be very careful in siting facilities and transparent and open in the siting process. Black Point is an obvious example of the closed door process.
A tax funded comprehensive universal primary care based system would unleash creativity, reduce costs, promote greater equity in the community,.
Using the health care industry as a growth industry will make medical care more expensive and inaccessible.
Not my area of expertise, but it is clearer and clearer a tax policy of giving back to the wealthy and tax breaks for corporations does not work. For the rich or for the ability of government to serve the community. If we want to tax labor less, tax speculation, pollution, and carbon. If nothing else start measuring a lot of things better, such as the relationship between tax breaks and job creation and clean production and prosperity.
Practice focused on
Community Prosperity on Planet Earth
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Providence RI 02906