Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Green Recovery

Money for Nothing

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The United States government can currently borrow at a -0.34% yield, meaning we’d actually have to pay back less money than we borrow after adjusting for inflation. It’s literally free money. Meanwhile we have a deep recession, high unemployment, and tons of important infrastructure work that needs to be done. This is the whole reason national debts exist in the first place.

I have no idea what the White House could possibly be thinking. Cutting government spending in this context makes absolutely no sense. We should be borrowing like crazy. Here’s Ezra:

The path forward is obvious: We should borrow now and put in place a firm plan to cut deficits later, once the economy is back on track and investors have other places to put their money. But refusing better-than-free money now in order to talk about reducing our deficit later? Well, that may be the craziest sentence I’ve ever had to include in a column.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

6 Mistakes That Cost Democrats Dearly?

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Via @zunguzungu, here’s the list from Paul Jay of the Real News Network:

6. Not investigating Bush and Cheney for criminal actions while in office.
5. Bailing out bankers and not the banking system.
4. Not using the GM/Chrysler bailout as an opportunity to build a green economy.
3. Not defending the public option for health care reform.
2. Not bringing a promised new mindset to US foreign policy.
1. Allowing Republicans to rebrand themselves as populist behind the skirts of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

As I mentioned in the strikes and gutters post I tend to think that most of these didn’t “cost” Democrats dearly in the sense that they could have won the midterms if they’d done all six. The primal mistake is still #0: the too-small stimulus.

That said I wish they’d done all of these, because they were the right things to do and because the tiny window 2009-2010 was the best chance we’ll have for a good while. #6 diminishes the country and arguably makes Obama a party to Bush’s crimes; #5 and #4 were huge missed opportunities that will cost the country dearly in the long run; #3 was a big mistake in its own right as well as part of the larger health-care-reform supermistake that offset most concrete improvements in the health care system to 2014 and beyond; #1 would probably have helped us in some important races at the margins of the wave (though the centrality of Palin and the Tea Party definitely saved us elsewhere).

Only #2 seems truly irrelevant to the midterms. People don’t care that the U.S. has spent the last few decades waging a endless series of little wars and open-ended occupations; they seem to like it that way. The most terrible thing about contemporary U.S. politics is that Broder’s atrocious plan to win re-election by starting a war with Iran would actually work.

Obama Contrarianism Contrarianism

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Jaimee says this article about Green Recovery provisions hidden in the stimulus bill made her feel better about Obama (and about the future) than she’s felt in months, and though it’s setting the bar even lower I tend to agree.

For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world’s largest venture-capital fund. It’s pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet.

The green industrial revolution begins with gee-whiz companies like A123 Systems of Watertown, Mass. Founded in 2001 by MIT nanotechnology geeks who landed a $100,000 federal grant, A123 grew into a global player in the lithium-ion battery market, with 1,800 employees and five factories in China. It has won $249 million to build two plants in Michigan, where it will help supply the first generation of mass-market electric cars. At least four of A123’s suppliers received stimulus money too. The Administration is also financing three of the world’s first electric-car plants, including a $529 million loan to help Fisker Automotive reopen a shuttered General Motors factory in Delaware (Biden’s home state) to build sedans powered by A123 batteries. Another A123 customer, Navistar, got cash to build electric trucks in Indiana. And since electric vehicles need juice, the stimulus will also boost the number of U.S. battery-charging stations by 3,200%. (See how Americans are spending now.)

“Without government, there’s no way we would’ve done this in the U.S.,” A123 chief technology officer Bart Riley told TIME. “But now you’re going to see the industry reach critical mass here.”

The Recovery Act’s clean-energy push is designed not only to reduce our old economy dependence on fossil fuels that broil the planet, blacken the Gulf and strengthen foreign petro-thugs but also to avoid replacing it with a new economy that is just as dependent on foreign countries for technology and manufacturing. Last year, exactly two U.S. factories made advanced batteries for electric vehicles. The stimulus will create 30 new ones, expanding U.S. production capacity from 1% of the global market to 20%, supporting half a million plug-ins and hybrids. The idea is as old as land-grant colleges: to use tax dollars as an engine of innovation. It rejects free-market purism but also the old industrial-policy approach of dumping cash into a few favored firms. Instead, the Recovery Act floods the zone, targeting a variety of energy problems and providing seed money for firms with a variety of potential solutions. The winners must attract private capital to match public dollars — A123 held an IPO to raise the required cash — and after competing for grants, they still must compete in the marketplace. “They won’t all succeed,” Rogers says. “But some will, and they’ll change the world.”

The investments extend all along the food chain. A brave new world of electric cars powered by coal plants could be dirtier than the oil-soaked status quo, so the stimulus includes an unheard-of $3.4 billion for clean-coal projects aiming to sequester or reuse carbon. There are also lucrative loan guarantees for constructing the first American nuclear plants in three decades. And after the credit crunch froze financing for green energy, stimulus cash has fueled a comeback, putting the U.S. on track to exceed Obama’s goal of doubling renewable power by 2012. The wind industry added a record 10,000 megawatts in 2009. The stimulus is also supporting the nation’s largest photovoltaic solar plant, in Florida, and what will be the world’s two largest solar thermal plants, in Arizona and California, plus thousands of solar installations on homes and buildings.

Obama made headlines today (and garnered some well-deserved praise) with a call for an additional $50 billion in stimulus money for infrastructure spending. This is a strategy for November that could stem the bleeding, especially as the Republicans double-down on their strategy of deliberately tanking the economy. I just don’t know why we’re only reading about it now, in Time, two years after the fact. Why isn’t he touting this aspect of the stimulus? It’s the best and most important part.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Saturday Night Tab Closin’

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* If it’s possible to miss the point of Pale Fire any worse than this, I don’t want to know about it. Via PCEgan.

* I second both Steven Chu’s call to paint our roofs white and Atrios’s call for “Green Recovery” government stimulus to pay people to do this work.

* Learned helplessness watch: Congressional Democrats, obviously feeling the heat from my persistent calls to use reconciliation to get around Republican filibusters, have now taken reconciliation off the table altogether. Idiots.

* At least Elaine Marshall is ahead in Carolina.

* Speaking my language: Dreamlands, one of the temporary exhibits currently at the Pompidou Center in Paris, highlights Kandor-Con from artist Mike Kelley, with these observations:

The comics present a different image of the Kryptonian city on each occasion, and Kelley sees in this a complex allegory, the diversity of representations signifying the instability of memory. The installation Kandor-Con includes architecture students who continuously design new Kandors, feeding them to a Superman fan site. For the artist, the inability of the original draughtsmen, the new designers or the hero’s internet fans to fix the form of Kandor once and for all illustrates “the stupidity and ridiculousness of technological utopianism.” The capital of the planet Krypton, says Kelley, is “the utopian city of the future that never came to be.”

You had me at “Bonjour.”

* I was kidnapped by lesbian pirates from outer space! A comic, via MetaFilter.

* Added to my Netflix queue: Brick City, a documentary about Newark said to be “a real-life version of The Wire.” Also via MeFi.

* And added to my torrent queue: The Yes Men Fix the World (legal!). Via Boing Boing.

Tea Still Not Weak Enough

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The Kerry-Lieberman(-Graham) climate bill the Senate has been sitting on uselessly all this time is apparently dead. The tireless monks who will preserve history amid the ruins of our civilization should take note that I was right all along: they should have pushed “Green Recovery” first.

Leader Reid

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 3, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Behold, the Mother of All Saturday Linkdumps!

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* Polish President Lech Kaczynski has apparently been killed in a plane crash in western Russia, alongside much of the leadership of the country. Updates at MeFi.

* Yesterday Stevens made it official. The timeline. A shortlist. The politics of shortlists. An offbeat shortlist. How about Cory Booker? Why Obama shouldn’t shy away from a confirmation fight. Why Glenn Greenwald is lukewarm on frontrunner Elena Kagan. Why the GOP may use the SCOTUS hearings as another excuse to freak out about health care. Or maybe just another excuse to flip out period. Still more at MeFi.

* Totally independent of anything anyone anywhere has said or done, threats against members of Congress have increased threefold in recent months. It’s a funny coincidence that means absolutely nothing.

* George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

* Everything old is new again: Gingrich says Republicans will shut down the government if they take over.

* Tony Judt on crisis, neoliberalism, greed, the end of history, and the need for a new New Left.

For thirty years students have been complaining to me that “it was easy for you”: your generation had ideals and ideas, you believed in something, you were able to change things. “We” (the children of the Eighties, the Nineties, the “Aughts”) have nothing. In many respects my students are right. It was easy for us—just as it was easy, at least in this sense, for the generations who came before us. The last time a cohort of young people expressed comparable frustration at the emptiness of their lives and the dispiriting purposelessness of their world was in the 1920s: it is not by chance that historians speak of a “lost generation.”

If young people today are at a loss, it is not for want of targets. Any conversation with students or schoolchildren will produce a startling checklist of anxieties. Indeed, the rising generation is acutely worried about the world it is to inherit. But accompanying these fears there is a general sentiment of frustration: “we” know something is wrong and there are many things we don’t like. But what can we believe in? What should we do?

* Full with polls: The IRS is more popular than the tea partiers.

* “Kind of a Glenn Beck approach”: On male studies. More at Salon.

* Another great segment from the Daily Show about blatant Fox News dishonesty, this one on the lies they’re telling about the START treaty. But the quote of the day on this comes from who else but Michele Bachmann, who calls for the U.S. to commit to nuclear retaliation in the event of a devastating cyber attack.

* Matt Yglesias on Treme‘s battle between realism and sentimentality.

* Comic book cartography. Their link to the principles of Kirbytech from my friends at Satisfactory Comics is pretty great too.

* Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe? I’m surprised there’s even debate about something that is so trivially true.

Negative Twenty Questions, John Wheeler’s analogy for quantum mechanics.

* Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now. Welcome to the elderly age.

* Multicellular life found that can live entirely without oxygen.

* xkcd’s version of hell is now fully playable.

* Chris Christie working overtime to destroy public universities in New Jersey.

Outsourcing TAs?

* In Washington, D.C., you’re not a rape victim unless police say so. Via Feministe.

* HIV-positive Michigan man to be tried as bioweapon.

* Are we still waiting for the other shoe to drop on Greece?

* The Texas miracle? Wind power in an oil state.

* Two from Krugman: Building a Green Economy and Al Gore Derangement Syndrome.

* Somewhat related: Tim Morton on hyperobjects.

Hyperobjects are phenomena such as radioactive materials and global warming. Hyperobjects stretch our ideas of time and space, since they far outlast most human time scales, or they’re massively distributed in terrestrial space and so are unavailable to immediate experience. In this sense, hyperobjects are like those tubes of toothpaste that say they contain 10% extra: there’s more to hyperobjects than ordinary objects.

* The Illinois Poison Control Center has a blog. MetaFilter has highlights.

* And Gizmodo has your periodic table of imaginary elements.