"reaganomics in greenface"

great post via earth2tech

“Green-collar jobs” has entered the zeitgeist with the help of political promises and media infatuation. Most recently the EPA has put $2.5 million into the Brownfields environmental job training program, one of the government’s oldest efforts to train a greener workforce.

The most outspoken, and well-spoken, advocate for green-collar jobs has been environmental justice crusader Van Jones. Co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Jones was the subject of a recent Q&A with the Sun Magazine in which he sounds off on “eco-elites,” green Reaganomics, and explains why cleantech entrepreneurs are leaving the working class behind.

Jones is concerned that the cleantech movement is growing away from the working class. “Nobody is showing people of modest means how they will benefit from green energy,” he said. “Green is the new gold for rich eco-entrepreneurs, but it can be just one more burden for low-income people if they get stuck paying higher rates.”

Coal, oil and gas companies have long threatened higher power rates to stall emissions regulations. But Jones points out that cheap, dirty power comes at a high environmental and medical price. And all too often it is low-income communities who bear the brunt of a fossil fuel economy’s pollution. Asthma rates in Oakland are among the highest in the state. Jones doesn’t want to see the same environmental injustices perpetuated in the emerging clean economy.

It would be easy to say that once we have renewable this and organic that, everybody will benefit, but that’s not a progressive policy; it’s just trickle-down Reaganomics in “greenface.” Of course there will be jobs created, but will kids over in west Oakland be able to get those jobs? Will we be satisfied with a sustainable economy that, at the end of the day, is eco-apartheid?

Jones has likened the movement he envisions to Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society. He foresees a green economy that will not only make Silicon Valley executives rich but employ a green proletariat that undertakes the process of retrofitting a great society into a green society.

[Y]ou don’t hear a full-throated call for the sort of World War II–level mobilization that it’s going to take to avert ecological catastrophe. If you look at the scientific data on global warming, you can see that we can’t avoid a wholesale disaster unless we put this country back to work — putting up solar panels, weatherizing buildings, and constructing wind farms on a massive scale.

(emphasis is my own)

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