Precarity is another reason for a green New Deal


I seldom write about social or economic issues on this blog as I am more prone to tackle environmental ones, and this even if they are part of the sustainable development triptych.

But each time I blog about social topics it seems I am watching Rom burn and collapse. My last post here was on youth unemployment. And the situation on this front haven’t changed for the good but for the worse.

One of the latest issues of Courrier International [Fr] (see the cover above) is on youth unemployment and the massive precarity.

I am by no mean a liberal, at least for French standards. But seeing how so many people – me included – are struggling just to find a job, makes me wish for a revolution, or at least a paradigm shift from our leaders.

An article from the Guardian, translated in Courrier International, made me particularly think. Here are some extracts :

For the first time, the mainstream left in Britain and Europe has no progressive agenda. It has forgotten a basic principle. Every progressive movement has been built on the anger, needs and aspirations of the emerging major class. Today that is the precariat.

The protests spreading across the world are manifestations of the precariat taking shape, the latest example being in Spain – where the indignados reject mainstream political parties, while demanding what appears as a discordant bag of changes.

(…) The global precariat is not yet a class in the Marxian sense, being internally divided and only united in fears and insecurities. But it is a class in the making, approaching a consciousness of common vulnerability. It consists not just of everybody in insecure jobs – though many are temps, part-timers, in call centres or in outsourced arrangements.

The precariat consists of those who feel their lives and identities are made up of disjointed bits, in which they cannot construct a desirable narrative or build a career, combining forms of work and labour, play and leisure in a sustainable way.

Another article, this time from the New York Times is particularly enlightening. It was written by Paul Krugman, who is calling for a new New Deal :

For example, we could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads — which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt.

We could have a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners. We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan’s second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt.

So there are policies we could be pursuing to bring unemployment down. These policies would be unorthodox — but so are the economic problems we face. And those who warn about the risks of action must explain why these risks should worry us more than the certainty of continued mass suffering if we do nothing.

I think he is right. I believe we should start a new New Deal NOW. But a GREEN one ! Each week, each month, each year we are not taking this decision is making the situation worse.

  • Worse economically as unemployment doesn’t decrease,
  • Worse as our oil importations are still crippling our balance of trade,
  • Worse as greenhouse gases emissions are making our climate weirder and weirder….

The thing is, I don’t see any good reason NOT to act. The only reasons that prevent us from acting on these issues are that we are making fat cats fatter…

The indignados movement in Spain, the Den plirono in Greece or the MondoMayday movement in Japan are right, precarity for such large portions of our societies have to stop, and stop now.

I believe acting on energy issues as the potential to truly solve all this. There are hundreds of millions housings to insulate, hundreds of coal-fired plants to replace by cleaner and more job-intensive sources, millions of vehicles with internal combustion engines to switch to electric ones…

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