FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Deep Green Alternative

by THE GREENS / GREEN PARTY USA

Why should we work longer hours in order to…

*put our neighbors out of work,

*produce fall-apart products that poison our children and grandchildren, and

*have less time to enjoy life?

People are losing their jobs and homes. Many throughout the world are without food, medical care and transportation. Instead of addressing real needs, governments and international financial institutions are designing “austerity programs” that cut back on basic services and privatize everything from education and mail delivery to pension plans and public health.

Simultaneously, climate change intensifies before our eyes as summers warm, droughts expand, polar ice caps melt, and those who live in coastal areas are threatened by rising waters. This occurs amidst heightened use of radioactive and other toxic chemicals, the destruction of biodiversity, and a drive to pull the last resources out of the Earth so that nothing will be left to future generations.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to reduce working hours and ensure that everyone has enough work while no one is overworked? A Deep Green Alternative means producing those things that are necessary while stopping the manufacture of goods that are unnecessary. This could provide meaningful lives for all of us while preserving the world from further destruction.

Unfortunately, such an obvious solution can be lost in clouds of confusion:

1. Social justice activists often advocate massive increases in production (i.e., “economic stimulus”), which are at the root of ecological crises. Producing more today will make life unbearable in the future.

2. Those who seriously address ecological crises understand the need to end practices such as logging, fracking, tar sands extraction, removal of coal from mountain tops and long-line fishing. But is it possible to massively reduce fuel production while maintaining employment?

3. Some react to this contradiction with a Green New Deal, which would use environmentally “friendly” technology for an enormous stimulus package. But this could not provide work for everyone and it would worsen environmental problems.

A Deep Alliance between Labor and Environmentalists

A shorter work week is the beginning point for addressing problems that concern us all. It would allow us to move rapidly toward full employment at the same time we put the brakes on extractive industries. But working less than 40 hours a week is distressing if it means losing health insurance, losing pension plans, and failing to make home payments.

Labor concerns are thus an essential part of environmental protection. We need to replace the health insurance industry with universal free medical care. We must double or triple social security in order to replace private pension plans that are inequitable, inadequate and disappearing. There needs to be a moratorium on (or an end to) home foreclosures and protection for anyone caught in the housing bubble.

When these basic needs are guaranteed as human rights, millions of people would be happy to work only 30 (or 20) hours per week. This would help strengthen families and would lay the groundwork for reducing the manufacture of harmful and destructive products.

Getting Serious about Halting Environmental Destruction

The simple facts are these: (a) it is not possible to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) without drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels; and (b) the economy will shrink as we use fewer fossil fuels. The same holds for biodiversity, industrial poisons and preserving “natural resources” for future generations. A huge reduction in industrial activity is necessary to protect human health and the environment.

Does that mean we need to give up rebuilding inner cities and endure lives of sacrifice and suffering? Definitely not. Such an enormous amount of the economy goes to wasteful and destructive production that we can provide basic necessities at the same time as we cut back on burning fossil fuel.

The following are several examples of a Deep Green approach.

Better Security

Wars of the 21st century are being fought to ensure that major global powers have access to fossil fuel from around the world. US citizens do not become safer as the military kills people so that corporations gain control over their natural resources. The quality of our lives is not improved by having hundreds of military bases across the world. By reducing the US military to 1–2% of its current size and eliminating the stockpile of nuclear weapons we would be more secure and save trillions of dollars.

Mass incarceration functions as a comprehensive and well disguised system of social control, analogous to Jim Crow. The drug war drives mass incarceration, accounting for over half of the five-fold increase in the prison population since the 1980’s, with over 80% of drug crimes being for simple possession. Although drug usage is known to be approximately equal across races, blacks account for the vast majority of drug convictions, up to 90% in some states. As convicted felons, blacks are denied the vote (1 in 7), face legal employer discrimination in hiring, cannot get professional licenses, are denied public housing and welfare benefits, and typically have wages garnisheed to pay court costs. This disgraceful racial caste system is intolerable in a green society: it can be ended by replacing the drug war with a system of legalized regulation.

More Nutritious Food

The most important source of GHGs from the food industry is the overproduction of meat. By ending “factory farming” of animals and having meat-free days, we would also reduce many types of heart disease.

Industrial agriculture is primarily devoted to processing, packaging, advertising, transporting, genetically modifying organisms and overusing petroleum products for pesticides, fertilizers and machinery. These expenses are often subsidized by tax dollars. A deep green approach would replace subsidies with taxes on industrial food and provide subsidies for organic and plant-based production of food. This would increase the quantity of nutritious food and reverse the decline of the family farm at the same time as it shrinks agribusiness.

Livable Communities

We need to immediately begin the transformation of urban America into walkable neighborhoods. There should be neighborhood stores (such as grocery, barber shop, pharmacy, hardware) so that non-handicapped people can make 80% of their trips by bicycle or foot and use mass transportation or car sharing for the rest.

In contrast, Green Capitalism promotes “energy efficient” cars as a way to reduce GHGs. Yet, every improvement in energy efficiency is more than offset by an increase in the number of cars on the road.

In order to eliminate vehicle trips with few passengers, we need to phase out the individually owned car. Within a few years, the only vehicles needed for urban areas would be those for emergency (ambulance, fire, police), industrial/construction transport, mass transit, handicap and car sharing.

Preventive Medicine

The vast majority of the US private medical industry goes to making money for itself instead of keeping people well. These funds are wasted in the insurance industry, providing unnecessary or harmful treatment, inventing diseases, exaggerating diseases that exist, turning minor illnesses into major ones by denying care to the poor, and focusing on hospital care that exposes people to new infectious agents.

A deep green medical alternative would provide universal free community and preventive medicine. Clinics and doctors’ offices in urban areas should be located so that patients can walk or bicycle to them or doctors can walk or bicycle to their patients’ homes. [Contact the Green Party USA to find out where this has already been done for years.] This would improve the quality of our lives at the same time it reduces medical costs enormously.

Usable Consumer Goods

Have you ever had something fall apart just after you bought it? Are corporations doing this intentionally to force us to buy more and more? “Planned obsolescence” of consumer goods (a) forces society as a whole to spend more hours at work manufacturing things that are designed to self-destruct or go out of style, (b) exhausts more natural resources, and (c) introduces more GHGs and industrial toxins into the environment.

A deep green alternative would require that all products be manufactured to last as long as is technologically possible and that worn-out and broken products be returned to the manufacturer who would be responsible for reusing 100% of the component parts. It’s simple arithmetic: If we designed products to last 10 times as long, we could reduce production by 80% while having twice as many consumer goods.

Our Lives as Producers: An Ethical Awakening

Survival of humanity requires a profound change in moral values: we need to challenge endless economic growth. Where will new moral values be most likely to develop? In the minds of isolated individuals? In our role as consumers? Or, in our working lives?

How can society make the profound changes that are necessary for survival? Too often, the answer is: “Purchase the right products.” But the right consumer choices are often unavailable, impractical or make little to no difference. Our power as producers vastly exceeds our power as consumers.

Right now, our civil rights end when we begin our work day and only start up again when work is over. This needs to end. The most important voting right we should have is the right to vote on what to produce and how to produce it.

The Deep Green Alternative requires a “Deep Green Producers’ Discussion.” Every group of working people needs to ask if what they are producing is good or harmful. Should it be increased, changed, reduced or abolished? If they decide that what they produce needs to be reduced or halted, how should the changes be made and what alternative jobs should they have? This is the type of question that all of us need to ask if we are going to begin the process of building a new society and a livable world.

The concept of changing consciousness is empty if we are forced to participate in harmful production with no power to curb it. Being able to have a serious producers’ discussion assumes that we are building a society in which all people are guaranteed the right to change to a different job if they decide that what they are currently doing is destructive.

Clearly, we need to stop manufacturing products that are unnecessary. But who decides what is and is not necessary? For too long, that decision has been made by the 1%. They define “necessary” as anything that can get them more profit, regardless of what it does to workers, communities, and nature. The 1% have shown that they cannot make morally responsible decisions about the economy. Now is the time for the 99% to take over 99% of that decision-making power.

This article was submitted by Don Fitz on behalf of the Green Party. Fitz produces Green Time TV in conjunction with KNLC-TV in St. Louis and is active in the Greens/Green Party USA.  He can be contacted at fitzdon@aol.com

Don Fitz is editor of Green Social Thought: A Magazine of Synthesis and Regeneration and produces Green Time TV in St. Louis, Missouri.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail