Musings on the New New Deal : Skill Plus Green

Posted on Feb 3, 2021

I was listening to another session of blather stating the usual argument to “free people up to be entrepreneurial” through creative destruction of old business, and ways to tweak the margins of that.

But we already know that doesn’t work for lowest ‘skill’ levels, and won’t give many of those people jobs.

Setting aside the debate about UBI, I think a WPA inspired model, instead of just more highways and business incentives, is the easy route.

After the depression, WPA paid people to build solid & ornate buildings which needed more laborers, more tradespeople, more artists.

What if we took that to the extreme in every way while still not supplanting private enterprise?

Any New New Deal effort should prioritize jobs of “low skill”; affirmatively targeted to employee impoverished and diverse work force.

Invest in mass transit before new or wider highways!

Beautification Dept: simpler functions like gathering litter, planting trees, cleaning, painting and improving public aesthetics.

Senior Services : Staff to service seniors proactively: welfare visits, transit services, meal deliveries, tech support, personal assistance (bill resolution?)

Skill Plus : Community colleges and vocational rehabilitation should get turbo-charged, and employ new cadres to train the low-skilled so they don’t remain so. Includes emphasizing the need for a Greener society and civic participation.

Seasonal Patronages that subsidize artists by rotating them through stints where temporarily taken away from their personal projects to collaborate on decorative works. Optimize for artistic freedom (pick when they take it, not the project) and variet. One artist might plan a work that another artist assigns yet another artist to interpret, avoiding cultural hegemony by a persistent advisory council.

Mental Health services of every kind, from welfare checks to psychiatric including building and staffing sanitarium facilities that do not just warehouse untreated people.

Crisis Counselors, Arbitration Negotiators, Public Defenders, Civic Prosecutors to tackle local violations of the common good.

Repair bridges & build more sidewalks, bike lanes, and walking trails everywhere.

Clean and restore all the nature we have sullied.

Internet Access : work clearing ground and trenching for a federal fiber optic cable network extended for rural service, with leases available for commercial use.

Solar and Wind farms widely distributed around the grid, not just massive regional projects. The more renewable capacity we build, the sooner some inventor solves the load shifting & surplus storage problems effectively.

Power Grid upgrades, and (later) Jobs dismantling fossil fuel power plants.

Clerical jobs for expanded regulatory investigation and enforcement efforts.

Data Scientists and Academic Researchers, with data from all government agencies, contracts and vendors proactively published under peril of automatic funding freeze. Exceptions require exceptional need and public board review, with allowance for standardized delays vastly preferred to permanent secrets.

Defang the police by shifting their culture of ‘patrol against peril’ towards investigation-in-depth. Resolve criminal complaints by being persistent observers instead of aggressive avengers. Training emphasizes egalitarian moral justice for the average citizen over defending the largest hoards of property.

Tax the hoarders more to pay for it. With great wealth, comes greater responsibility to share it.

Most of these government actions would also create more business to supply and support those missions, some new jobs would be created to oppose them (regulatory record keeping, IT, admin, and legal defense)

That’s how an open market should work, instead of being a hostage to business wants, the government is one of the drivers of need. Capital should not be primary, it should only be important.

At the end of the effort, it would not be a utopia; it would just be a better world, progress having been made.