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The Alliance Center exists to bring people together to solve systemic problems. The problems we faced just months ago have not diminished or gone away, yet our approach to solving them must adapt to the current COVID-19 crisis and future emergencies. We are committed to bringing the right people together at the right time asking the right questions to produce actionable results.

Between May and July of 2020, the Alliance will lead the Colorado Emergence Series. This consists of six virtual meetings convening the brightest minds addressing the topics of climate change, workforce development and the economy, food systems, agriculture and water, infrastructure and transportation and democracy. A final report will be produced to amalgamate the entire series with the objective of producing pragmatic, community-based solutions that can be replicated and scaled.

SESSION II | FOOD SYSTEMS/ AGRICULTURE AND WATER

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020 | 3 – 5PM

Join us on Thursday, May 28 for the second meeting of the Colorado Emergence Series. In this session we will focus on how our beloved state will adapt its approach to ensure our food systems are more resilient in the face of crises now and in the future.

RESOURCES
We have compiled an in-depth collection of resources and information for you to explore before the virtual convening.

Overview of Colorado Agriculture

Colorado is an agricultural state. From the peach orchards of the Western Slope to the potato beds of the San Luis Valley, to cattle drifting through the high country, to the great grain fields of the eastern plains, Colorado’s economy runs on food. And eating, as Wendell Berry said, is an agricultural act.

Our job now is to ensure our agricultural system is resilient, meets the needs of both rural and urban populations, is equitable and capable of sustainably delivering the food and fiber we all need. This is not an impossible dream. This week, the European Union announced that it will condition its bailout programs on adherence to its Green Deal.

To support farmers and the people of Colorado, the state Department of Agriculture seeks to: 

  • Support economic opportunity (i.e. market access) and overcome structural barriers (i.e. cost of doing business, financing) in order to keep family farmers and ranchers in business, and allow the next generation to build a career in agriculture.
  • Prevent greater loss of agricultural land and water, and protect essential resources for working lands;
  • Advance farmer and rancher-led soil, water and climate stewardship.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) set forth the Colorado Water Plan to provide a framework for developing resilient responses to Colorado’s water-related challenges. A priority is: DNR now seeks to advance the values of Colorado’s Water Plan and support increased resiliency under the new COVID-19 landscape. Colorado Water Plan values include:

  • A productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities; viable and productive agriculture and a robust skiing, recreation, and tourism industry.
  • Efficient and effective water infrastructure
  • A strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers, streams and wildlife.

In addition to COVID-19 impacts, especially financially, how do we address the uncertainties of additional pressure points such as:

  • Climate change – impacts from uncertain hydrology, drought, hotter conditions
  • Population growth

Agriculture and water are complicated systems, as the Food Systems Map prepared by the National Western Center (NWC) shows. This map, created by the NWC’s How the West was One program, is worth studying. If we are to achieve Colorado and NWC’s goals of creating a regenerative and nourishing food future for Colorado- reuniting urban and rural lives and livelihoods from soil to supper- we will have to understand how pieces of the system interrelate to each other.

The agriculture sector, as defined by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, includes farm production, forestry, fishing, textile mills and products, apparel, food and beverage sales, service and manufacturing. In Colorado, agriculture uses 47.5 percent of the state’s land, but farm production contributed $2.1 billion in both 2016 and 2017 representing just 0.64 percent and 0.61 percent of Colorado’s GDP in those years. In 2018, projected net farm income was expected to climb slightly to $1.37 billion, but that is still well below the 2011 record. 

The industrial agriculture sector has seen a volatile few years with beef exports performing strongly but grain prices dropping as recent trade wars worsened agricultural markets. Profitability has been concentrated in only a few sectors of Colorado’s diverse food and agriculture value chain, most notably natural foods and beef, which account for the largest share of Colorado’s agriculture economy. Of Colorado’s $3.7 billion livestock industry 75 percent comes from cattle making Colorado the fourth largest exporter of fresh and frozen beef in the United States. Natural foods, as described below, are an even larger sector.

Issues in Agriculture

Even before COVID-19, industrial agriculture in Colorado was struggling. The 2017 Business Economic Outlook projected that Colorado’s net farm and ranch income would fall to $444 million in 2016, well below the nearly $1.3 billion reported in 2015 and the lowest since 1986. The forecast for 2017 projected a further drop in net income to $392 million. Colorado’s record-high net farm income of $1.8 billion was in 2011. Farm bankruptcies have continued to rise in recent years and are expected to worsen with COVID.

This is just one indicator of the trouble facing Colorado’s agriculture: that climate change is shifting weather patterns and water availability. Mark Twain rightly said, “Whiskey’s for drinking; water’s for fighting over.”  The Front Range’s ability to sustain its population derives from diversion of Western Slope water to lubricate the cities and industrial agriculture of the plains. In Colorado, as globally, almost three-quarters of fresh water withdrawals go to sustain agriculture, but because of outmoded laws, farmers are required to “use it or lose it.” There are almost no markets for saved water, water efficiency, water leasing or other market-based solutions.

Even before COVID, the world faced food shortages. Climate change threatens global food supplies, and the way we are doing agriculture is worsening the climate crisis. Many of the world’s refugees are fleeing global warming driven farm failures. Even in the U.S, almost 90 million people were food insecure before COVID, and this pandemic has brought hunger to many more. 

Urban dwellers tend to think that food comes from a grocery store forgetting that such establishments are a relatively recent phenomenon dating only from the late 1940s. People forget that food comes from the hard work of Colorado’s rural residents or from brittle supply chains bringing produce from half a world away. 

Those supply chains are breaking during the current health crisis as prized products from toilet paper to bacon disappear from store shelves and food lines stretch for blocks. The system of vertically integrated confined animal feeding operations delivers 105 billion pounds annually of poultry, pork, beef and lamb every year in the U.S, nearly double what it produced three decades ago. Yet this model of efficiency has proven unable to cope with any dislocation. 

Most meat processing takes place in a small number of plants controlled by four corporations: Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA Holdings Inc. and Cargill Inc. They process over 80 percent of the beef and more than 60 percent of poultry and pork sold in supermarkets. Poultry is so vertically integrated that corporations like Tyson own the chickens themselves. Everybody getting that chicken to the store is a contractor for Tyson. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, meat processing capacity in the U.S. is down 40 percent. This amounts to 200,000 excess pigs a day that will become a million pigs a week with nowhere to go but a mass grave. This is a result of meatpacking plants inability to process them because they are closed by the pandemic. Millions of chickens, pigs and cattle are being culled because front-line workers in the meat packing plants, operations more reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle than the corner butcher shop, are dying of the virus. 

A study by Oklahoma State University projected that the pandemic could bleed the beef industry of an estimated $13.6 billion. This means that prices to the consumer are up but livestock prices for farmers are collapsing. 

One report observed, “The same features that allow a steady churn of cheap meat also provide the perfect breeding ground for airborne diseases like the coronavirus: a cramped workplace, a culture of underreporting illnesses and a cadre of rural, immigrant and undocumented workers who share transportation and close living quarters….As of May 20, officials have publicly linked at least 15,300 COVID-19 infections to 192 U.S. meatpacking plants, according to tracking by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. At least 63 workers have died.” In the 1950’s meatpacking workers were unionized and earned almost $35,000 a year with paid sick time. Now the norm is under $30,000, and only one in five packers are unionized.

Farm laborers and grocery store workers are also at risk. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, warns that more than 100,000 grocery workers have been exposed and 68 have died. Clearly, one of the challenges to the industry is to ensure worker safety and rethink the supply chains to make them more locally robust and resilient.

Natural and Organic Food, Craft Brewing and Cannabis Industries

Natural and Organic Food

In contrast, the natural and organic foods sector is growing. Globally, organic retailers are seeing up to a 30 percent boost since COVID. Colorado, the Front Range and Boulder in particular, is home to the highest concentration of natural and organic product companies in the nation. In  2011, the last year for which data is available, the industry contributed $2.5 billion in revenue and 8,278 jobs statewide, while industrial agriculture and forestry combined contributed $2.7 billion. Compare this to oil and gas extraction, which employed 8,412 statewide in 2017. In 2013, Colorado led the organic industry with nearly 270 certified organic farms and ranches with more organic certified acres than any other state. Data are scarce, but the industry has only grown since then. Nationally the food market as a whole grows at a bit over 1 percent, but the organic market, now at over $50 billion a year, grows at over 5 percent annually.

Organic farmland in Colorado increased over 4000 percent between 1997 and 2015, growing from 3,716 acres to 151,571 acres. There are an additional 70,000 acres dedicated to organic pasture and range land. Between 2012 and 2015, Colorado’s organic agricultural industry more than doubled in sales, growing from $66.2 million in 2012 to $155.2 million. This is good news for Colorado job creation and prosperity.

Studies have shown that areas with high rates of organic farming have lower levels of poverty and higher household incomes. One piece of research identified 225 counties in the United States in organic hotspots—counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity that have neighboring counties with high organic activity. It looked at how the organic hotspots impact key county-level economic indicators. Organic Hotspots boost household incomes and reduce poverty levels—and at greater rates than general agriculture activity, and even more than major anti-poverty programs. Being an Organic Hotspot increases median household income by over $2,000 and  lowers a county’s poverty rate by as much as 1.35 percentage points. 

A 2012 study by M+R Strategic Services found that organic agriculture creates 21 percent more jobs than conventional agriculture with 28,000 jobs for every $1 billion in sales. A similar study in the UK found that organic agriculture delivers 32 percent more jobs than conventional. 

Craft Brewing Industry

Beverage production generally, and craft brewing in particular, are rising sub-sectors of Colorado agriculture, employing 9,790 in the Metro Denver area (dubbed the Napa Valley of Beer) by the end of 2017.  Craft brewing is adding $3.16 billion economic impact to the state. The Beverage Production sector had the highest job growth (at 28.1 percent) of any sector in Colorado between 2011 and 2016”. The average wage in the beverage production industry (which also includes wine, bottled drinks and distilled liquors) in Metro Denver in 2017 was $59,880.

Cannabis

The legal cannabis industry’s labor force grew 7-fold between January 2014 and February 2018, now employs almost 20,000 statewide and stimulates almost $3 billion of annual consumer spending. It contributes as much to state and local tax revenue as cigarette and tobacco taxes, and almost 5 times as much as alcohol taxes. Most cannabis products are sourced locally, unlike many consumer products purchased in the state leading to relatively high economic multipliers compared to other industries. This creates more output and employment per dollar spent than 90 percent of Colorado industries. The Cannabis Jobs Count report identifies some 211,00 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis sector nationwide. This total increased to 296,000 when indirect and induced employment was included. By comparison, 112,000 Americans are estimated to work in the textile industry while only about 52,000 people are employed by the coal mining industry. Nationwide, legal cannabis is one of the greatest job-creation machines in America. The cannabis workforce increased 21 percent in 2017, gained another 44 percent in 2018 and 20 percent growth in jobs in 2019 for a 110 percent growth in cannabis jobs in just three years.

Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic system of farms, farmers and customers that balances the relationship between all inputs, nature and the community. In general, regenerative farmers seek to use only manure from livestock produced onsite as fertilizer, supplanting synthetic nutrients derived from natural gas. They grow their own organic seed, rejecting costly industrially produced, genetically modified and chemically-coated seed. They trade locally for what they cannot produce themselves creating a vibrant web of community. 

Regenerative agriculture nourishes the soil on which all life depends especially the microbial life that sequesters carbon in the earth [See the work of Gabe Brown]. It turns from industrial farming, now imperiling human ability to grow food, and accepts the science that small-holder organic farming is the best way to feed the world. It revitalizes rural communities as it improves the health of our food and the environment on which food production depends. 

Regenerative grazing, pioneered by Colorado’s Savory Institute, and organic vegetable production both restore soil structure, build healthy topsoil, nurture soil microbes and promote biological activity all of which contribute to long-term productivity and nutritious crops. Savory Institute’s Land to Market program and Ecological Outcome Verification enable producers to prosper from these replicable, verifiable practices. 

This approach sequesters vast amounts of atmospheric CO2 as mineralized soil carbon, potentially reversing the climate crisis at a profit. Rough numbers are that every one percent increase in soil organic matter increases soil carbon five tons per acre and water holding capacity 20,000 gallons per acre. If these best practices were used on all the world’s grasslands it could be possible over 30 years-time to return atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 280 parts per million, the pre-industrial level. 

These practices enhance native biodiversity. Water use is optimized. Farm worker safety and investment in local businesses sustain farming communities. Because more people are needed to do the work that the chemicals previously did, regenerative farming increases employment, helping meet demand for jobs. Because such agriculture melds the best of modern science with ancient culture, such lives are rewarding and sustainable. For more information on the viability of these approaches see: A Finer Future, Creating an Economy in Service to Life.

With the shutdown in big supply chains, more people are looking to local agriculture. In Colorado, subscriptions for Community Supported Agriculture are on a waiting list basis. Local dairies that deliver are seeing dramatically increased business. Joe Cloud, who owns T&E Meats in Harrisonburg, Virginia, observed, “These big plants are being forced to shut down, they slaughter 6,500 animals a day — six times my annual output,” he said. “A plant like mine is inefficient and our meat prices are higher, but there’s a lot more resiliency.”

Interestingly, some small-scale farmers, although they have been largely excluded from bailout programs, are adapting better than their industrial competitors. Nationally, more than 167,000 small farms sell $8.7 billion worth of meat and produce directly to consumers, restaurants and retailers each year. With some farm stands and farmers markets closed due to the pandemic, many shifted their businesses online, and farms across the country report that customers are following in droves. Huffington Post profiled Longmont’s Sky Pilot Farms, scrambling to meet increased demand from on-line and drive-up customers to their farm stand. Similarly, Aspen Moon Farms is selling through the Boulder Farmers’ Market’s pickup service, which pivoted to supply SNAP customers, paid for in part by wealthier customers buying the overflow. 

Brian Coppom, Director of the Boulder Farmers’ Market stated, “The silver lining in all of this, is that more folks are waking up to the inadequacies of the industrial food system, and they’re responding by buying locally. It’s a foundation we can build on — Coppom estimates that based on acreage alone, agriculture done in Boulder County could feed 25-30 percent of the population.” How much of our needs could Colorado supply, and how would doing that improve our economy?

This is the question that motivated the creation of SOIL: Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally, a program of Slow Money in Boulder. This program links urban dwellers with local farmers, providing zero interest loans to fund the next generation of diversified, organic farms and the small food enterprises that bring their produce to the local market. There is a SOIL chapter in the Boulder Valley and the Roaring Fork Valley on the Western Slope with another forming in Durango. Similarly, Mad Agriculture is bringing financing and farm planning to help farmers implement regenerative agriculture. 

Even before COVID, the growing popularity of regenerative agriculture attracted major agricultural companies. General Mills has committed to help farmers on a million acres implement regenerative practices. Danone, Kellogg, Nestlé and a dozen other companies announced the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) coalition to promote regenerative agriculture at the recent United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. Land O’Lakes, the large dairy conglomerate promises to increase sustainability on 1.5 million acres of U.S.-grown corn. Microsoft has pledged to go not only carbon neutral but carbon negative by 2030 using regenerative agriculture and nature-based solutions to remove all of the carbon that the company ever emitted.

Government Programs and Conclusion

Government Programs

Recognizing the importance of soil health, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is developing a Colorado Soil Health Program (CSHP), a voluntary, incentive-based program to help farmers and ranchers build drought resilience, improve water and air quality, sequester carbon, and reduce erosion through cost-effective and sensible soil management practices. Colorado’s $3 billion budget deficit, however, will require partnerships with farmers, communities, NGOs and others to implement what is now needed to ensure a resilient agriculture system.

Most Federal farm programs are oriented only to support big farming. Globally agricultural subsidies top $1 million a minute. A recent report from the Food and Land Use Coalition called for a 10-point program to reverse destructive agriculture practices, including:

1: Promoting healthy diets
2: Scaling productive and regenerative agriculture
3: Protecting and restoring nature
4: Securing a healthy and productive ocean
5: Diversifying protein supply
6: Reducing food loss and waste
7: Building local loops and linkages
8: Harnessing the digital revolution
9: Delivering stronger rural livelihoods
10: Improving gender equality and accelerating the demographic transition

The European Union recently published its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies as part of its strategy on the European Green Deal, which remains a priority for Europe. This calls for:

  • Reduction in pesticides by 50 percent and fertilizers by 20 percent by 2030 and an increase in organic farming. 
  • EU sales for antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture will be reduced by 50 percent while the share of organic farming would be increased by 25 percent by 2030.
  • “The EU Commission is committed to halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer levels by 2030.” It will use new data expected by the member states in 2022 to set a baseline for legally binding targets

It calls for sustainable food systems that:

  • Have a neutral or positive environmental impact.
  • Help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.
  • Reverse the loss of biodiversity.
  • Ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food.
  • Preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.

Change is coming in the U.S. too. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker recently introduced The Farm System Reform Act to prohibit new large factory farms from going into business and force others to cease expansions before halting operations entirely within two decades. It would impose an immediate ban on new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and phase out all large factory farming by 2040 with voluntary buyouts for smaller operations. “The COVID-19 crisis will make it easier for Big Ag to get even bigger, gobble up smaller farms and lead to fewer choices for consumers… We need to start reversing the hyper-concentration in our farm economy.” 

Conclusion

The true strength of Colorado’s economy comes from Its land and its people. Together we can generate both social and ecological health and economic prosperity. With the right combination of policies and programs, Colorado’s leadership can support its regenerative industries, already our biggest assets. Doing this will continue the state’s ongoing economic transformation away from damaging practices and towards ones that deliver shared prosperity on a healthy planet.

SESSION I | CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2020 | 3 – 5PM

In this opening convening of the Colorado Emergence Series we focused on how Colorado will adapt its approach to climate change and renewable energy following the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESOURCES
Here is an in-depth collection of resources and information in regards to climate change and energy.

Climate Change

COVID is clearly an ongoing crisis, but our challenge is to emerge from this emergency in ways that forestall the far worse crisis that is already upon us: the climate crisis

Atmospheric carbon levels are expected to increase again this year, even if CO2 emissions cuts are greater still. Rising CO2 concentrations – and related global warming – will only stabilize once annual emissions reach net-zero.

Interestingly, 60 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide come from the global production and use of consumer goods. Since the COVID crisis spread, emissions appear to have fallen 5.5 percent over 2019 globally 2,000m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2). To meet the Paris Accords of staying below 1.5 degrees C increase we need to cut 7.6% every year (2,800MtCO2 in 2020)

There are really only two ways to solve the climate crisis: renewable production and efficient use of energy and regenerative agriculture [addressed in the next Emergence Workshop].

Renewable Energy

It is possible to convert the world to renewable production by 2030: Dr. Mark Jacobson showed in 2009 that renewables could power the whole world by 2030. His Solutions Project has shown how to do this for every US state and most countries.

Renewable energy production is now cheaper than fossil production essentially everywhere on the planet.

We’ve now left it till almost too late, but as Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing- after they’ve tried everything else.” That goes for the rest of the world, too, apparently.

In June, General Electric announced that it was abandoning a natural gas power plant that had 20 years of projected life left because it could not compete with solar.  Less than a month later, GE announced a partnership with Blackrock, the big financier, to deliver distributed solar and storage options to homeowners and small businesses.

In August, Portugal announced what could be called the Walmart award for everyday low prices: solar at 1.6¢ per kilowatt hour (¢/kWh) for 599 megawatts.

The stuff that comes out of your wall socket costs you at least a 10¢, and in many areas substantially more. China announced that unsubsidized distributed rooftop solar is cheaper than its coal-fired grid electricity.

California which will hit its 2030 target of being half renewable by 2020, committed to getting 100 percent of its electricity from climate-friendly sources by 2045. More than 100 companies and 1,000 cities, have set such goals.

Similar results are coming in from India, where solar is now 14 percent cheaper than coal, from Europe, where the levelized cost of energy from solar plus storage is already below 2018 spot prices of grid electricity, from Germany where one of every two solar installations now boasts battery storage rendering utilities increasingly irrelevant, and from Australia where solar is cheaper than gas. The Western Australian Energy Minister admits that all future generation will be renewable despite the fact Western Australia has always been a coal province.

In the last month, Abu Dhabi reclaimed the low-cost title with a 2 GW solar project at 1.35¢/ kWh. In the U.S. renewables supplied more electricity than coal every day of April 2020.

Generating Jobs

One in five Americans is now out of work. 33 million have filed for unemployment since COVID started driving the unemployment rate to over 14.7 percent.

The best way to generate jobs in our communities is to invest in the conversion to renewable energy, to enhance energy efficiency in our buildings and drive the conversion to electric vehicles faster. Dr. Dan Kammen from UC Berkeley has shown that investing in renewables generates 10 times the jobs of investing in central station power plants.

In the short term universal basic income, direct payments to individuals, can prevent catastrophic losses. Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK effectively nationalized private payrolls, telling workers to stay home, but guaranteeing that they would continue to be paid 70 – 90 percent of their salaries over the next three months. They also covered rent for any companies unable to pay. The US opted to expand unemployment insurance, but many applicants have been unable to file.

Fossil futures: Most analysts agree that there is a severely declining future for coal: Just running a coal plant now costs more than installing renewable energy. When the Kentucky Coal Museum puts solar panels on its roof rather than hooking to the coal fired grid at its doorstep, King Coal is dead.

Hydraulic fracturing is a ponzi scheme. Investors are realizing that the enormous sums that they were asked to continue pouring into the industry were likely to never return a profitPrices to frack a new well vary from $40 a barrel to $90 a barrel, depending on whether you’re drilling in West Texas or horizontally under housing developments, but fracked wells typically last less than a year. Even before COVID-19, traditional oil was lifting for $20 – $10 a barrel in Saudi, with a world average of $40. This was not a viable industry even before oil went negative.

But if that is the case, what is the fiduciary responsibility of investing in oil and gas extraction? Bevis Longstreth, former SEC commissioner, opined  in 2018, “It is entirely plausible, even predictable, that continuing to hold equities in fossil fuel companies will come to be ruled negligence.”

This helps explain why more than $11 trillion dollars have been divested from fossil ownership, even before the University of California announced that it was divesting its $80 billion portfolio.

There has been a pervasive belief that Colorado is an extractive industries state. Little could be further from the truth. The regenerative economy in Colorado, has already surpassed the extractive industries of the past. Clean energy delivers 66,223 jobs growing at 9 percent in 2019 compared to oil and gas extraction at 40,420 jobs, declining at 4 percent in 2017. Arts and culture bring delight to life and are a larger creator of jobs and revenue for the state than oil, gas, coal, mining, timbering and the other extractive industries. Arts and culture employ 100,631 people. Outdoor recreation directly employs 229,000, and when direct, indirect and induced employment are tallied, supports a whopping 511,000 jobs in the state, constituting 18.7 percent of Colorado’s labor force. By comparison, oil and gas support 89,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs, almost six times fewer than outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation is harmed by the extractive industries, as climate change threatens our skiing, fracking fouls our air and mining tears up the wild lands tourists seek for recreation.

Most jobs are created by entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation has reams of details on this. In the US, the Kauffman Foundation found that in every year from 1977 until 2013, the large companies were net job destroyers. Only small companies and startups were net job creators. They have a recent piece on how to support small businesses.

There is plenty of money to pay for the conversion to a regenerative economy, so long as Congress allocates money as opposed to selling bonds, which require interest payments. This is the conclusion of Dr. Randall Wray, Dr. Stephanie Kelton and their colleagues who allocate what is known as Modern Monetary Theory. In a down economy, especially one without full employment, spending into the real economy will stimulate the private sector and pay for itself. The only limit on this is inflation which we are a very long way away from that. By way of example, the Quantitative Easing implemented after 2008 caused no inflation. The true backing for the US dollar is not gold. It is 330 million very productive, free people and a huge amount of productive real estate with massive natural resources. For more on this, see The Deficit Myth by Dr. Stephanie Kelton.

Wray and Kelton also call for long term job creation via a guaranteed jobs program as opposed to universal basic income. (UBI is okay as an emergency cash stimulation, but guaranteed jobs is the preferred long-term solution.) It would give non-governmental organizations and local governments as much capital as needed, and they can usefully deploy hiring people at a living wage to do the work that the market is failing to deliver including child care, elder care, teaching, restoration of damaged ecosystems and more. This system can ensure the end of structural unemployment and entrenched inequality. It would pay for itself over about five years in reduced welfare costs. The following are some of the measures Wray and Kelton suggest:

  • Use stimulus for abandoned oil wells – gives jobs for oil field workers, as bridge to renewables
  • GND efforts – IMF Chief: $1 trillion post coronavirus stimulus must tackle climate crisis – invest emergency loans into green sectors, scrap subsidies to fossil fuels and tax carbon
  • Green New Deals– Merkel, EU businesses, South Korea
  • The Energy Transitions Commission, including CEO signatories from Royal Dutch Shell, Bank of America, Rio Tinto Zinc and HSBC
  • Our LASER work- This is a free, downloadable how-to manual for local economic renewal, road tested from Kazakhstan to South Africa to Serbia to communities across the North

HAVE INSIGHT OR QUESTIONS?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us by emailing our Chief Impact Officer, Dr. Ashley Lovell, today.