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Francine Hardaway Headshot

Will the Environmental Movement be a Job Creator at Last?

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I was listening to Obama speak on his stimulus plan today, and he's talking about making us energy independent. He's talking about creating 460,000 jobs through clean energy investment, laying transmission lines for clean energy and making the Federal government more energy-efficient. He's going to lead us out of the recession on the clean energy movement. First step: allow the states to enact the regulations Bush wouldn't allow.
Carl Bernstein at the 2007 Texas Book Festival...

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I wish his plan would work. But I have been watching administrations scramble as the economic crisis deepens, and nothing seems to work.The same regulations that may eventually make us energy independent will, in the short term, make us uncompetitive compared to China. Chinese cars are about to come into the American market just as American cars will be mandated to achieve greater fuel efficiency.

This is bringing me to a conclusion I don't want to come to: it's possible that no economic stimulus will work. Each one will prop up the economy for a while, but the underlying structure has grown incorrectly since the last Depression, and perhaps, as the Conservatives insist, it has to melt down completely before it can grow back correctly. In some ways, our entire economy was constructed as a Madoff-like scheme built on fraudulent financing and the specious demand for goods and jobs generated by easy money.

And I alsoI fear that Obama's new initiative will create new jobs in clean energy -- jobs that will go begging because Americans are not trained to do them, and because university budgets are being cut and college loans are contracting and it will take a while before we have an economy that can produce workers for the new energy economy. It's not so easy as creating the jobs. We have to create the workers as well.

This morning I was listening to Carl Bernstein speak on Morning Joe, and he reminded me that the best minds in the country are working on the economy, and they are truly scrambling as things get worse and worse. Obama will sign executive orders to create a more economically viable environmental movement and business will argue that regulations make us less competitive. In health care, there will be a demand for nurses and a lack of supply, or a lack of money for hospitals to hire them.

In Eastern philosophy, this is known as the interconnectedness of all things. It means there is no solution and all solutions must happen simultaneously. It means we have to remember, when things get better, which they will, that they will cycle down again. The same real estate industry that swore in 1987 that it would never overbuild. is facing the same vacancy rates less than 25 years later. This is called the wheel of existence. And we never get off it unless we learn.

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