Building Block for the Green New Deal
It was an iconic moment: Young people occupy Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a Green New Deal to put millions of people to work making a climate-safe economy — when suddenly newly-elected Congressional representative and overnight media star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins them with a resolutionin hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. But those who actually read her resolution closely may have been puzzled – or stunned – by its call for “a jobs guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.” What is a “jobs guarantee program” and what does it have to do with protecting the climate?
The federal jobs guarantee (JG) is a concept also known as “jobs for all” and the federal government as “employer of last resort.” It envisions a federal program somewhat like the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) that would provide funds for non-profit organizations, local governments, and other agencies serving the public to employ anyone who wants a job at a wage roughly comparable to the demands of the Fight for $15 campaign. According to columnist Jonathan Chait, the jobs guarantee plan “has materialized almost out of nowhere and ascended nearly to the status of Democratic Party doctrine.”
The advocates of JG generally include climate protection as one of many types of work beneficial to the public that might be included in a jobs guarantee program. However, they generally have not said how such a program might specifically address the climate emergency.
This May Varshini Prakash and Sarah Meyerhoff, two leaders of the youth climate movement Sunrise, wrote an article titled “It’s Time for the Climate Movement to Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee.” They called for a policy through which “the government directly employs anyone who wants a job but doesn’t have one.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…