Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What is growth good for?

I have another Green Talk column online at my local newspaper, the Morgan Hill Times. I really believe that we must challenge the idea that Growth is Good. It is almost the Gordon Gekko line from Wall Street, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good".

Not only do we have a better word, we have a better way. Green, for lack of a better alternative, is good. Read the full column here.


Alex Walker said...

Wes, this is excellent. You are nothing if not a thought-provoking writer.

There is, however, one important metaphor that I'm surprised you overlooked, the oft-quoted line by John F. Kennedy:

"A rising tide lifts all boats."

The idea is that a "rising tide" (a growing economy) will raise both the rich man's yacht and the poor man's canoe. This is the promise that has saved capitalism through every crisis for more than a hundred years. Old Europe threw off "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore" and thus preventing the spread of revolutionary socialism. I read someplace that something like 10% of the whole population of Ireland immigrated to escape the Great Famine.

Immigrants came to the United States, endured horrible conditions in places like the Lower East Side, "Hells Kitchen," Little Italy, Coney Island, and the Bronx for a couple of generations. Then, their kids got good education, many acquired highly-paid skills, some went to college. In the period between the Great Depression and World War II down to our own time, there was a tremendous explosion in the so-called middle-class enjoying "the good life."

Today, the great Golden State of California is on a collision course with itself. People still come here from all over the United States (like me) and from all over the world (like Arnold Schwarzenegger) in search of "the good life." Middle class Greens, such as ourselves, should take care not to open ourselves to the charge of being "liberal elitists" by trampling on people's dreams.

My neighbor across the street came to this country from El Salvador more than twenty years ago (his family insisted that he leave after he was drafted into the army -- to fight in a terrible war promoted by U.S. imperalists). He worked very hard, raised a family, has a son that just started college at San Francisco State last fall and now my friend is facing foreclosure. He's not going to be moved by a rap that sounds like HE is to blame for the mess in California by wanting "More! More! More!" for HIS family. Furthermore, the fastest "growing" country in the world today is China and the "People's Republic of China" to not going to pay much attention to sermons by Americans refusing to even acknowledge the contradictions of capitalism.

This is exactly where the brilliance of the 10 Key Values of the Green Party comes into play. By standing for principles like social justice, respect for diversity, and grassroots democracy Along With ecological wisdom and sustainability, Greens offer a practical alternative to the obsolete "growth" ideologies of Democrats and Republicans. That is why, as I always say, Greens are not just "liberal Democrats in a hurry." There really is a qualitative difference between us and a standard Democratic Party "liberal" hack like Sen. Diane Feinstein or even SF Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Wes said...

Alex, thank you for the compliment. As for the rising tide image, I did not take that up because the ultimate rising tide is a tsunami, rather indicative of where we are headed under the current establishment.

Alex Walker said...

"...the ultimate rising tide is a tsunami"

Oh Wes! That's a great line! Did you think of that yourself? I can use that one someday.

Wes said...

Use the line as you will, the author gives you permission.