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January 11, 2009


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Before I read any further, I suggest you read more about "green jobs" before you talk about them. Start here:


Here are some more reports:


I've done some preliminary research for hire on this topic (I don't find it all that interesting, personally), but I do think there's tremendous potential in retrofitting older buildings in cities like NYC, Boston and elsewhere, to start.

Also, I take your point re: "Where" and on "what" will we be spending the $$. But surely you don't disagree that the MN bridge collapse, levee failure in NOLA, and a maxed out electricity grid are signs that we need upgrades to our infrastructure? Yes, I know you say you do, but that point is almost lost in your "negative nancy" critique of the stimulus package. :)

"the whole thing drop" - and then what, do nothing?

I agree the tax cuts are a terrible idea. I agree more needs to be done re: unemployment benefits - incl. making more populations eligible for them - and food stamps. Hopefully the states can do something about these issues and Medicaid with the "aid to states" line item-esque part of the plan. And I agree that more needs to be done re: housing, FOR SURE.

And though I'm never one to shy away from restored funding, at a minimum, to public housing, it does only comprise about 1m units of housing nationwide. There's only about 7m units of federally subsidized housing TOTAL in the U.S. for low-income housing, incl. PH, and vouchered units. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit financed housing comprises another 1.2m units over and above the 7m.

In contrast, 150m homeowners take the mortgage deduction on their homes, which includes a range of income levels. Then there's the millions of renters who receive no subsidies of any kind.

So with respect to the housing issue, we need some sort of solution to keep people in their houses, write down mortgages, protect renters from evictions on foreclosed properties, and more construction and rehab of new affordable units in dense, accessible areas. Of course, I've just laid out part of my life's work right there. :)

I also read somewhere about increasing wages. YES. Must go find this blog post...

Last things first:

- I guess I mean "let it drop" in the sense that I think failure to pass would be better than what I think may happen, which is an even more bloated bill that does even less.

- I agree with your housing comments, especially given those stark numbers... but I think it defines the hole we're in on the mortgage mes: there's thousands of already unsalvageable situations, more being made every month, and no real good solution in the re-fi world (if banks finally cave on reducing loan principles - and they could - prepare for a financial bloodbath). So, either you keep people in their homes and slash mortgages... which will lead to a Depression, and chaos; or you throw people out of homes... which leads to a Depression, and chaos. Not good.

- In any case, I think we agree on some immediate steps - protect renters, build more urban housing. Why not start there?

Finally, thanks for the info on green jobs... but I actually stand by my point after looking around. I think the "green jobs" are more theoretical than real, and as a pilot experiment they're interesting... but by no means a clear solution. Even more telling, the fact that you and I - two bright, concerned social do gooder types find this "boring" (I'm right there with ya)
also speaks volumes to me about putting too much faith a green jobs solution. It's just not seeming, well, sexy enough to be the right next thing.

PS I didn't even touch the Medicaid stuff in the proposal; but as with our discussion of Charity Hospital and Louisiana's Medicaid issues, I think there's a real failure in terms of Medicaid financing and this stimulus plan, one that really deserves its own post. It's appalling, if you ask me.

Oh, and one other point: you ask me about things like repairing the bridge in Minneapolis (or, a better example closer to home - rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge)... and yes, I agree there's definitely work in that regard which could be a god start - but that's a fraction of the kind of money they're proposing, and in a number of states, you've got governments with no real ability to say no to just stupid stuff. I guess what I'm saying is it's not the idea of infrastructure that I'm opposed to... it's the process question about how you dole out this much money, really look at what makes a good project, and try to say no to some of them. The instinct, I think, will be to go for boondoggles. That's the problem. And I'd rather see a broader definition of infrastructure than I've heard from the Obama folks - where's public transportation (Ezra's made a lot of this), for instance? And shouldn't school construction, really, go hand in hand with a longer, harder discussion of education policies more generally, so that we build not only better schools, but better located ones, and challenge municipalities to think more broaly about linking, say, city systems with their suburban outliers? I don't think just being in favor of "infrastructure" really gets s where we need to be. That was kind of my point. Is that clearer?

And I am not Negative Nancy. Downbeat Debbie... maybe. :)

I don't take it as given at all that green jobs is somehow not viable or real or merely trendy just because I think it's boring. It just reminds me too much of technology, for some reason, an area I also find hideously uninterested. Space too. Boring!

I think renewable energies, retrofitting cities, building environmentally more responsible housing, etc. is all very smart and the wave of the construction, development, technology and governance sectors, I hope! Whether or not the "green jobs" moniker is being overly thrown around because it's catchy (e.g., who's not for "personal responsibility?") - well, that's a different story.

what's w/all my typos today?

above should read:

"wave of THE FUTURE of the x,x,x,x sectors.."

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