Thursday, 29 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Laws for equality
So what policy-instuments do we need, to make it happen?
Wage rises should be on a cash-amount basis, not a percentage basis. In other words, everyone in a given organisation would get the same wage rise, each year, in monetary terms. Over time, this would reduce the percentage difference between high and low earning employees very considerably, and eventually might make it trivial.
The beauty of my proposals (you need both, because the second one only applies if there is an actual wage/salary _rise_, which in a recession there is not necessarily) is that they _encourage_ the higher wage earners (including top bosses) to raise the wages of the poorer workers in their company/organisation. And they actually narrow the rich-poor gap - they diminish relative poverty - in the process. In other words: they attack inequality, and bring equality nearer, in a way that doesn't render the better-off as angry resisters of the process.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Prosperity without growth
with arguments that I have made previously on this blog:
Synopsis - Prosperity without Growth?
The economy is geared, above all, to economic growth. Economic policy in
the current recession is all about returning to growth - but an economic
crisis can be an opportunity for some basic rethinking and restructuring.
Two objectives other than growth - sustainability and wellbeing - have
moved up the political and policy-making agenda in recent years,
challenging the overriding priority traditionally given to economic growth.
SDC's "Redefining Prosperity" project has looked into the connections and
conflicts between sustainability, growth, and wellbeing. This project has
now resulted in a major SDC report: 'Prosperity without Growth?: the
transition to a sustainable economy' by Professor Tim Jackson, SDC's
Prosperity without growth? analyses the relationship between growth and
the growing environmental crisis and 'social recession'. In the last
quarter of a century, while the global economy has doubled, the increased
in resource consumption has degraded an estimated 60% of the world's
ecosystems. The benefits of growth have been distributed very unequally,
with a fifth of the world's population sharing just 2% of global income.
Even in developed countries, huge gaps remain in wealth and well-being
between rich and poor.
While modernising production and reducing the impact of certain goods and
services have led to greater resource efficiency in recent decades, our
report finds that current aspirations for 'decoupling' environmental
impacts from economic growth are unrealistic. The report finds no evidence
as yet of decoupling taking place on anything like the scale or speed
which would be required to avoid increasing environmental devastation.
Prosperity without growth? proposes twelve steps towards a sustainable
economy and argues for a redefinition of "prosperity" in line with
evidence about what contributes to people's wellbeing.
Green Fiscal Commission: Green reaction
Why drop 'No Platform' now?
The positive answer is community organising, proposing an alternative vision that has anti-racism and internationalism at its heart, etc. . That is what we need to be doing: not wasting time - in fact, counter-productively - trying to deny the BNP their 15 seconds of fame.
This is what I myself have already been trying to do for years in fact, and especially in the elections I ran for this year.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Beyond 'No Platform': BNP must now be beaten in face to face argument
What we must not do is turn Griffin into a victim and martyr. The most likely way one would do that is by saying that he has no right to speak at all, even when he was (I'm afraid) elected.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Green vs. BNP: the real opposition
This is the real task. When Peak Oil and Dangerous Climate Change start to bite viciously, that's when BNP support wil really start to increase. Green Party support has to stay ahead of it; as the old Parties die, we have to be ready to fight the real political fight.
Friday, 23 October 2009
How to deal with Griffin and the BNP?
What needs to happen now is: we need to build a viable alternative to the BNP that will appeal to the white working class. That is for instance what I am trying to do in my ward, which contains the most 'deprived' estate in Norwich. The only way in the end to defeat and bury Griffin for good is to change British politics, build from the ground up in communities, start to improve British society, and get Greens onto programmes like QuestionTime to really destroy his lies and rubbish and false solutions. Straw and Huhne and Tories will never be up to the job.
Be a citizen
Thursday, 22 October 2009
A time for ideology
No. Now is a time for ideology. A time for ecologism; a time for investment (in a Green New Deal), not cuts; a time to redefine 'progressive' as meaning movement in the direction of equality. Now is the time to break the 3-Party consensus.
A dream only? No; for here is an interesting straw in the wind: at the most recent byelection, in Norwich North, the only Parties to gain votes, and substantially so, were the Green Party (for which I was the candidate) and UKIP. Two avowedly ideological Parties, both (in deeply different ways) deeply inimical to the unsustainable status quo. Neither the LibDems (usually byelection maestros) nor even the Conservatives (supposedly the Government-in-waiting) were able to gain voters from Labour's dismal situation and showing. The electorate are actually deeply fed up with the corruptly 'pragmatic' political class, and the coming General Election will surely see the largest-ever vote against the failed 3-Party consensus. The real secret of British politics then is that ideology is on the march again, and that the Green Party and UKIP (and possibly also others less savoury) will surely reap what the dying old politics has sown, within the coming year.
Latest rubbish from 'REFORM'
'Reform' is really on a roll now: two shite reports within a week... Here's my criticism of their rubbish report last week: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2009/10/reforms-road-to-ruin/
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Yes to Goldstone!
You can't get much more impartial or magisterial than Richard Goldstone.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Goldstone OK, the man may have Zionist sympathies (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1251804583376 ); but he is a great man with a great record... the Israeli government's refusal to accept his report is nothing less than an international disgrace.
Please consider signing this petition to endorse the Goldstone report and its acceptance by the UN Human Rights committee if you have not done so already. I was sent a link to this petition from the No.10 website, asking the
Prime Minister to support the Goldstone report at the UN. I have done so, I hope you now will, too!:
[There is currently a counter-petition to this that has almost three
times as many signatures...:
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Don't build roads if you want to help pedestrians!
In the EDP today, a big frontpage piece on the (excellent) new city centre vision. But: The spin from the County about how the NDR is a precondition for the city centre vision is just a big and desperate lie. YET the EDP are reporting it as fact.
It is ludicrous to pretend that a pedestrianisation strategy would be complemented by a massive and prohibitively-expensive road-building project...
For all things Rupert, goto
Why no-growth economics? - The answer in a few sentences
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Thoughts for the day
U.S. on Edge of Massive Reduction in Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Important info from the reliable Lester Brown: good news, for once!
U.S. HEADED FOR MASSIVE DECLINE IN CARBON EMISSIONS*
Emissions Drop 9 Percent in Last Two Years
By Lester R. Brown
For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The United States has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.
For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.
Beyond the cuts already made, there are further massive reductions in the policy pipeline. Prominent among them are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, higher appliance efficiency standards, and financial incentives supporting the large-scale development of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. (See data at www.earthpolicy.org.)
Efforts to reduce fossil fuel use are under way at every level of government—national, state, and city—as well as in corporations, utilities, and universities. And millions of climate-conscious, cost-cutting Americans are altering their lifestyles to reduce energy use.
For its part, the federal government—the largest U.S. energy consumer, with some 500,000 buildings and 600,000 vehicles—announced in early October 2009 that it is setting its own carbon-cutting goals. These include reducing vehicle fleet fuel use 30 percent by 2020, recycling at least 50 percent of waste by 2015, and buying environmentally responsible products.
Electricity use is falling partly because of gains in efficiency. The potential for further cuts is evident in the wide variation in energy efficiency among states. The Rocky Mountain Institute calculates that if the 40 least-efficient states were to reach the electrical efficiency of the 10 most-efficient ones, national electricity use would be reduced by one third. This would allow the equivalent of 62 percent of the country's 617 coal-fired power plants to be closed.
Actions are being taken to realize this potential. For several years DOE failed to write the regulations needed to implement appliance efficiency legislation that Congress had already passed. Within days of taking office, President Obama instructed the agency to write the regulations needed to realize these potentially vast efficiency gains as soon as possible.
The energy efficiency revolution that is now under way will transform everything from lighting to transportation. With lighting, for example, shifting from incandescent bulbs to the newer light-emitting diodes (LEDs), combined with motion sensors to turn lights off in unoccupied spaces, can cut electricity use by more than 90 percent. Los Angeles, for example, is replacing its 140,000 street lights with LEDs—and cutting electricity and maintenance costs by $10 million per year.
The carbon-cutting movement is gaining momentum on many fronts. In July, the Sierra Club—coordinator of the national anti-coal campaign—announced the hundredth cancellation of a proposed plant since 2001. This battle is leading to a de facto moratorium on new coal plants. Despite the coal industry's $45-million annual budget to promote "clean coal," utilities are giving up on coal and starting to close plants. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with 11 coal plants (average age 47 years) and a court order to install over $1 billion worth of pollution controls, is considering closing its plant near Rogersville, Tennessee, along with the six oldest units out of eight in its Stevenson, Alabama, plant.
TVA is not alone. Altogether, some 22 coal-fired power plants in 12 states are being replaced by wind farms, natural gas plants, wood chip plants, or efficiency gains. Many more are likely to close as public pressure to clean up the air and to cut carbon emissions intensifies. Shifting from coal to natural gas cuts carbon emissions by roughly half. Shifting to wind, solar, and geothermal energy drops them to zero.
State governments are getting behind renewables big time. Thirty-four states have adopted renewable portfolio standards to produce a larger share of their electricity from renewable sources over the next decade or so. Among the more populous states, the renewable standard is 24 percent in New York, 25 percent in Illinois, and 33 percent in California.
While coal plants are closing, wind farms are multiplying. In 2008, a total of 102 wind farms came online, providing more than 8,400 megawatts of generating capacity. Forty-nine wind farms were completed in the first half of 2009 and 57 more are under construction. More important, some 300,000 megawatts of wind projects (think 300 coal plants) are awaiting access to the grid.
U.S. solar cell installations are growing at 40 percent a year. With new incentives, this rapid growth in rooftop installations on homes, shopping malls, and factories should continue. In addition, some 15 large solar thermal power plants that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity are planned in California, Arizona, and Nevada. A new heat-storage technology that enables the plants to continue generating power for up to six hours past sundown helps explain this boom.
For many years, U.S. geothermal energy was confined largely to the huge Geysers project north of San Francisco, with 850 megawatts of generating capacity. Now the United States, with 132 geothermal power plants under development, is experiencing a geothermal renaissance.
After their century-long love-affair with the car, Americans are turning to mass transit. There is hardly a U.S. city that is not either building new light rail, subways, or express bus lines or upgrading and expanding existing ones.
As motorists turn to public transit, and also to bicycles, the U.S. car fleet is shrinking. The estimated scrappage of 14 million cars in 2009 will exceed new sales of 10 million by 4 million, shrinking the fleet 2 percent in one year. This shrinkage will likely continue for a few years.
Oil use and imports are both declining. This will continue as the new fuel economy standards raise the fuel efficiency of new cars 42 percent and light trucks 25 percent by 2016. And since 42 percent of the diesel fuel burned in the rail freight sector is used to haul coal, falling coal use means falling diesel fuel use.
But the big gains in fuel efficiency will come with the shift to plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Not only are electric motors three times more efficient than gasoline engines, but they also enable cars to run on wind power at a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75¢ a gallon. Almost every major car maker will soon be selling plug-in hybrids, electric cars, or both.
In this new energy era carbon emissions are declining and they will likely continue to do so because of policies already on the books. We are headed in the right direction. We do not yet know how much we can cut carbon emissions because we are just beginning to make a serious effort. Whether we can move fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change remains to be seen.
# # #
Lester R. Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008), available for free downloading and purchase at www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/books/pb4.
Reah Janise Kauffman
(202) 496-9290 ext. 12
(202) 496-9290 ext. 14
Earth Policy Institute
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20036
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
What's wrong with talking about 'global warming'?
the issue as 'Global Warming' is completely hopeless. As conservatives
such as Frank Luntz have long known, 'global warming' sounds nice, and
'climate change' sounds harmless, even positive.
The first reframe is this: it's 'global over-heat', or 'global cooking',
or 'global over-heating'... It has to sound like what it IS.
Green Party Councillor, Norwich.
[If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on email@example.com]
Friday, 9 October 2009
The Tories' ever-decreasing circles of (un)greenness
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Left Foot Forward...
Left Foot Forward is focused purely on the quality of policies and furthering progressive goals, particularly:
- A proactive and sustainable economic policy that creates jobs, pulls Britain out of recession and towards a low-carbon and more equitable future.
- Public services that work for, and are accountable to, local people and leave no one behind.
- Safe communities where poverty and inequality are tackled, and the victims of crime are put first.
- A multilateral foreign policy to tackle climate change, poverty, nuclear proliferation, genocide, terrorism, and disease.
"Anyone listening to the Today programme this morning, as discussion began of the Conservatives’ plan to raise the retirement age, could be in no doubt as to how much the media consensus has firmed up behind a virility contest among politicians over who will cut ‘hardest’.
The BBC’s news-media team were clearly delighted to be able to start talking not just about where the ‘inevitable’ cuts had to fall, but about what things that people like (such as pensions, as opposed to bureaucracy or waste) politicians would now promise to cut, as reported earlier on Left Foot Forward.
Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror has described this as “macho politics”; and who can afford not to look macho? The agenda has been set: there must be massive public service cuts, and some at least of those cuts will cause real pain..."
Monday, 5 October 2009
Tory Euro infighting now underway in earnest
Transition Norwich featured in ‘Age of Stupid’ sequel as it celebrates its first birthday
Transition Norwich held its First Birthday Party on Sunday 4th October 2009, where the new film 'In Transition' film, was screened for the first time in Norwich. Emma Goude's 50 minute documentary has input from Transition initiatives around the world. Norwich was the 50th, there are now 1600, with thousands of related intitiatives aimed at living well and sustainably. The film includes the unleashing of Transition Norwich at St Andrew's Hall last year, with interviews from several Norwich people,including Green City Councillors Rupert Read, and Ruth Makoff and County Councillor Chris Hull. 'In Transition' is the perfect sequel to 'The Age of Stupid'. It tells the story of the generation that looked peak oil and climate change square in the face, and responded with creativity, compassion and genius. http://transitionculture.org/in-transition/
Councillor Rupert Read responded to seeing himself unexpectedly in the film: 'The film was really good, as was the event, both with lots of Norwich people... – the wonderful turnout, both last year and now, shows that the Transition movement is clearly going strong in our fine city.'
Professor Tim O' Riordan, Sherriff of Norwich, expressed his support for the Transition movement, which he described as 'organic, helpful, exciting and fun, showing how we can live sustainably and enjoy life', while 22 year old Environmental Science student Kerry Lane said it was 'inspirational, giving me hope when I was giving up'
Journalist Ariane Heinz, 65 from Germany, visiting friends in Norwich said that 'The Transition (from oil dependence to local resilience against economic and environmental shocks) have a long way to go but it's the only way. In my home town of Cologne, we are gathering information to help each other reduce our energy use by 1% every 6 months'
Party goers enjoyed low-carbon and local drinks and snacks, and danced to live music from Tom Foxe, 6th Fret and the John Preston Tribute Band, all amplified by cycle power'.
More like a party than a protest' is how party organizer Charlotte Du Cann's described her first year of Transition, not just tonight's event. For founder member Tully Wakeman the year was 'an exciting journey of finding out how we should be doing things, with valuable views and contributions brought by lots of different people'
Transition Norwich aims to bring together the people of Norwich to design and implement a community response to peak oil (the imminent decline in world oil supplies) and climate change – two issues which fundamentally challenge our current way of life. http://www.transitionnorwich.org/
Saturday, 3 October 2009
The rightwing blogosphere - why?
A significant part of the answer is: money (and time). Blogs are of course miles miles cheaper than newspapers to launch and run. But to have a top notch blog and to have it really widely promoted, a lot of money, time and/or expertise comes in very handy indeed. Most greens and lefties can't afford to pay people to help them run / design etc. their blogs etc., and have to earn money rather than rely on unearned etc income. Right-wing people are in this respect (literally) better off, by and large.
The Yanks are just lucky to have an Ariana Huffington prepared to bankroll progressive blogging / internet journalism. It is a rare rich person who is prepared to risk their own money backing politics that will work against their crude short term financial interests.
This is the truth that dare not speak its name: ConservativeHome and other famous right-wing blogs rely on huge warchests for their prominence.
It is time this fact got out there more.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
An appeal to the Irish people: for European democracy
The European Union has great potential to be a force for good in this
continent and this world. We can see some of this potential realised in
the role it has played in preventing major wars on its territory since
1945, and more recently in the lead role it has played on matters
But today, the E.U. is suffering from a legitimation crisis, a
'democratic deficit' of huge proportions. Since the Enlightenment the
idea of self-rule by free and equal citizens has been the cornerstone of
European democracy. Constitutions can give expression to this idea of
shared freedom and thus serve as the basis for democratic institutions.
They can, however, only do so, if we have reason to believe that the
constutions are understandable and acceptable to the citizens.
The Lisbon Treaty is effectively the constitutional treaty for the
European Union. The major part of its content has been rejected in
referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005 and in Ireland in 2008.
It needs to be thoroughly revised in a transparent and democratic manner
before it is brought back to the citizens of Europe for approval.
In that context, the referendum that your country is holding next week
stands as a unique beacon of hope.
We would ask you this: don't vote against the Lisbon Treaty out of petty
nationalism. (The island of Ireland knows all too well of what excesses
of fervour about national identity can lead to, in terms of human
suffering.) Be internationalists: as intellectuals from different
European countries outside your borders, we are asking you to speak for
us. Hundreds of millions of European citizens have been denied a voice
at the ballot box: exercise that power on our behalf.
Vote against the undemocratic project of Lisbon. Vote so that all of us
will be given that same right that you, rightly, have been given.
Our common future is in your hands. Force them to stop, to think again,
Please vote No to the Lisbon Treaty, on October 2nd.
Thomas Wallgren, Finland, Head, Department of Philosophy, University of
Susan George, Paris, France, Author, Board Chair of the Transnational
Rupert Read, UK, Reader in Philosophy, UEA, Norwich
Mladen Dolar, Professor, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Mikael Böök, Project Manager, Helsinki, Finland
Dr. Steen Brock, Associate Professor, Dr. Phil.,Department of
Philosophy, University of Aarhus, Denmark
Dr. John Collins, School of Philosophy, UEA, UK
George Daremas -Greece, Sn. Lecturer, University of Indianapolis -
Haris Golemis, Nicos Poulantzas Institute (Greece)
J.P.Roos Professor,Dept Social Policy,POB 18, 00014 University of
Dr Derek Wall, Visiting Tutor, Dept of Politics, Goldsmiths College, London.