The US is facing three huge problems:
1) Not enough good jobs: Six years after the great recession started, we still do not have enough jobs to grow the middle class. This is part of a long-term trend. Most Americans expect today’s youth to be worse off than their parents.
2) Rising inequality: The top 1% are getting richer, and the top 0.0001% are doing even better. Inequality has been rising for the past 40 years and has now reached 1929 levels.
3) Climate change: Global greenhouse gas emissions have increased 30% in the last decade. If we continue business as usual, temperatures could increase 4°C or more.
These problems will not be solved by incremental change. There needs to be dramatic action to turn around decades-long trends.
Fortunately, there is a plan that can solve all three of these problems at the same time. It is the Climate New Deal:
1. Massively build out renewable energy globally
2. Invest in the middle class
3. Tax the rich
Solving climate change requires a tremendous effort building solar, wind, and other renewable energy worldwide. Building renewable energy is labor intensive from manufacture all the way to the installation and maintenance. A massive build-out will create millions of jobs. World War II helped lift America out of the depression by building planes, tanks, and ships. We can do the same by developing, manufacturing, and installing solar panels, wind turbines, smart grids, electric cars, and energy efficient buildings. Climate change is a global problem, so US leadership in green technologies can lead to an export boom for decades.
After World War II, America invested in a better future for its children by spending on education, infrastructure, and research & development. During the same time, top tax rates for individuals were 91%, the economy was booming, and inequality was at a low. Today the wealthiest Americans pay 20% tax rate or less, the economy is stagnating, and inequality is at an all-time high. The solution is simple. By fairly taxing the wealthy and closing loopholes, we can generate the funds needed for the investment in our children’s future.
Big changes like this will only happen when Americans understand the problem and vote for change. The best opportunity for a national dialog is during a presidential campaign. Already coverage for the 2016 presidential campaign is heating up. Who is the Democratic presidential candidate who will campaign on this platform and get the national dialog started?