California now sits atop the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) rankings and bumped Massachusetts down to second place thanks to the passage of millions of dollars in incentives for high-efficiency heat pump water heaters and an executive order to phase out new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. They are perhaps spurred on by the fact that their state has been burning up; but all states are under threat; and we should definitely do all we can to keep Massachusetts atop the competition. Follow this link for more information about this on the WBUR website.

Opinion / Book review

By Stephanie Kelton,
Professor of Economics, SUNY Stoney Brook

Review by
Brad Hubbard-Nelson
ConcordCAN steering group

I imagine that after a pretty dismal year of pandemic, many of our readers are hopeful: pandemic receding with vaccines on the way; a president with some decency and forward looking vision (even if he isn’t Bernie); and hopefully some substantial action on climate in the next year, starting with re-joining Paris. Then, can we #BuildBackFossilFree, not just “Better”?

Nothing will be easy, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint.  As the election showed, a surprising number of people tuned into a different reality than most of us and it will take a lot more than Biden charm to woo them off Fox and Limbaugh. But assuming there is a way, either making the politics work (ha!) or through executive branch wizardry, could we even afford it?  How will we pay for the investments we need? 

I just read a book which suggests that all this can be possible, even beneficial to addressing societal inequity and environmental degradation.  The book is The Deficit Myth ,Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy by economist Stephanie Kelton.  Not exactly light reading, but certainly thought provoking, and there is a summary on YouTube.  I’ve always worried about large government deficits, especially since the government debt just keeps on growing so something eventually should come crashing down.  

Kelton’s premise is that I’ve got it mostly backwards.  Our government doesn’t need to budget as though it is a family because the Fed can print money.  The federal government can use spending into the economy as a control knob, to keep employment high and accomplish societal goals.  High levels of spending don’t need to cause inflation unless unemployment is so low that supply is constrained so inflation rears its ugly head.  That and many other busted myths in this book are something to get your head around over the holidays.

My take on this is that building a renewables based economy, with currently unemployed people re-trained and paid to do so, could be possible.  And we should get started on it right away!  

Really now, I’m not such an optimist that I can see it happening without a struggle, that’s what we really have in front of us.  And there are many economists who don’t agree with the MMT premises which confront their more conventional views.  So I’ll try to remember to ask in 20 years or so who was right and whether it made a difference.

The Buy Nothing,

Get Everything Plan:

Discover the Joy

of Spending Less,

Sharing More,

and Living Generously

By Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller  

How to participate in one of the three Rs – join the Reuse Revolution. Inspired by the ancient practice of gift economies, where neighbors share and pool resources, The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan introduces an environmentally conscious 7-step guide that teaches us how to buy less, give more, and live generously. At once an actionable plan and a thought-provoking exploration of our addiction to stuff, this powerful program will help you declutter your home without filling landfills, shop more thoughtfully and discerningly, and let go of the need to buy new things. Filled with helpful lists and practical suggestions including 50 items you never need to buy (Ziploc bags and paper towels) and 50 things to make instead (gift cards and salad dressing), The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan encourages you to rethink why you shop and embrace a space-saving, money-saving, and earth-saving mindset of buying less and sharing more.

Learn more about the Buy Nothing Project and to find a Buy Nothing Group in your area.