Thursday, December 13, 2018

3124. Miners are Still Dying From Black Lung Disease

By Elyssa East, The Guardian, December 13, 2018

A chest x-ray in the office of Dr Brandon Crum in Pikeville, Kentucky.
A chest x-ray in the office of Dr Brandon Crum in Pikeville, Kentucky. Photograph: Jeff Swensen/Jeff Swensen for The Guardian

Dr James Brandon Crum was alarmed. For months, unemployed coalminers had been coming into his clinic in Coal Run Village, Kentucky, seeking chest radiographs.

One patient in 2015 stood out. He was in his early 40s, about the same age as Crum, and had three children at home, just like him, but he could barely walk. The 68ft hallway between the x-ray room and Crum’s office might as well have been Mount Everest’s summit. The miner repeatedly stopped to catch his breath. Crum, who had worked in his family’s coalmine as a youth, knew that this man, who was suffering from progressive massive fibrosis – the severe or complicated form of black lung disease – could just as easily have been him.
Back in his office, where papers, folders and Post-it Notes cover practically every available surface, Crum started asking his patients detailed questions. There was a mystery: why was he suddenly seeing so much severe black lung – an old man’s disease – thought to be an illness of the past, appearing in younger men with significantly less time in the mines?
Between the miners visiting his clinic and the cases coming to him as a federally certified B-reader, or expert in special x-ray readings to classify dust diseases affecting the lungs, Crum was shocked. Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, commonly known as black lung disease, an incurable but entirely preventable illness caused by inhaling coalmine dusts, was showing up in x-rays at his clinic far above rates reported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh).

After Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act in 1969, which made the elimination of black lung a national goal, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis dropped to historically low rates by the 1990s. Progressive massive fibrosis, the severe or complicated form of the disease, fell to such scant levels it was considered rare. By 2012, though, Niosh announced that black lung was rising.

After interviewing the miner, Crum started tracking every case of simple and complicated black lung that he was seeing. What he observed beat Niosh’s updated statistics by a country mile.
Crum’s larger issue in 2015, though, was that, curiously, no other black lung specialists in Kentucky were observing the same trend. If they did, they certainly weren’t saying anything about it.

Invisible and deadly

Black lung disease is caused by coal dust, which thickens the air and blackens a miner’s face. Increasingly, respirable crystalline silica, which is invisible to the naked eye, and deadlier, is also to blame.
Once these dusts enter a miner’s lungs, he will take them with him to the grave. Before then, they will sit quietly. Unnoticed. Unseen. Until enough white blood cells accumulate around the particulates to be visible on an X-ray like grains of salt sprinkled across a black tablecloth. These coal macules mimic ordinary lung tissue and other possible lung ailments and are frequently unnoticed or misdiagnosed.
Though the nodules are part of the body’s ongoing effort to rid itself of the dusts, they can become their own problem. Continued exposure to dust will grow into scar tissue or fibrosis culminating in the complicated form of the disease. In time, the scars will become as big as a grain of rice. A dime. A quarter. A half dollar. Lung capacity declines. Hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels) sets in.
All the internal organs are taxed, particularly the heart and brain, as the scar tissue slowly “eats up” a miner’s lungs. The body just won’t quit trying to rid itself of these once invisible particulates until the day finally comes when the miner does not have sufficient lung capacity left with which to breathe. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
Though Crum watched his grandfather die a drawn-out death from black lung and his father also suffers from the disease, he did not decide to become a doctor to work on black lung. Instead, the disease found him.
A fourth-generation coalminer from an owner-operator family, Crum spent seven years working in the mines on weekends and summers from the age of 14 to 21.
Crum was reared in a typical Appalachian way in Elkhorn Creek, “a holler”, as he puts it, with generations of extended family all living in the vicinity of the family’s mines. He attended public school, where teachers wanted to move him ahead a grade owing to his above-average intelligence. His mother refused and gave her son extra work instead. He played little league, attended church (where his mother served as the pianist) on Sundays and Wednesdays, participated in Boy Scouts, and gathered with his kin for Sunday dinner. He hunted and fished, doing almost all of these things with his brother, Joshua, who is 13 months Crum’s junior, in tow.
Crum started working in the mines because he had been in trouble for fighting. His mother, Shawna, says, “He didn’t initiate fights, but he didn’t back down, either.” His father, James, handled the problem by saying, “If you’ve got time for that then you’ve got time for work.”
His first job was picking rock out of coal on the belt line. Later, he shoveled the stuff and handled rock dusting, which involves blowing pulverized material in the work area to reduce the risk of explosions caused by accumulating dust. “I didn’t give them good jobs,” Crum’s father says, referring to both his sons. “I gave them hard jobs. They had to learn to work.”
Crum decided to become a doctor, enrolling at the University of Pikeville. After completing his residency in Ohio, he worked for two years as a radiologist at Norton community hospital, just over the mountains in the heart of Virginia coal country. There, Crum saw enough black lung to pique his interest. Then he and Joshua moved home to “America’s Energy Capital”, as the Pike county highway signs boast, and opened their clinic, right as coal began to crash.

‘Diseases of despair’

“The media here buried this thing,” says Linda Adams, 53, who recently lost a fifth family member to the disease this past July. She and others affected by black lung’s resurgence held rallies and tried to get legislators to confront the crisis as far back as 2014. “But then Brandon Crum came in here and blew the lid off of this whole thing.”
The soft-spoken Crum does not come across as the type to blow the lid off of anything. His glasses are small and wire-rimmed, and his midsection thickening. Speaking with a distinct mountain twang and attending the Free Will Baptist church, an evangelical denomination that continues old-timey traditions like foot washing and immersion baptism, Crum stands with one foot in the old world of Appalachia and one in the new.
As a radiologist, spending his days in his office surrounded by multiple computer monitors, reading up to 100 x-rays a day, he is the doctoring world’s equivalent of a geek, someone seemingly more comfortable with data than people. Nonetheless, Crum continued questioning patients to determine their coal dust exposure.
At stake, as Crum began gathering stats over a 20-month period that began three years ago, was the health of the region’s principal workers in a crashing industry beset with layoffs. Families in a region already struggling with poverty and “diseases of despair”, such as addiction, had another cross to bear.
Also at risk were millions in state and federal black lung benefits. After thousands of miners went on strike in 1969 to insist on compensation for black lung, benefit programs were developed. Appalachia’s endemic poverty worsens when miners get too sick to work. However, over the near 50-year span of these benefit programs, many ailing miners have never seen a reward, which is part of why B-readers, such as Crum, are so important. Niosh intended to verify that applicants for federal and state benefits suffered a lung ailment caused by coalmine dusts, and to classify the type and severity of the disease, which is critical for determining award amounts.
With no one else seeing similar trends, Crum’s reputation was on the line, too. “Most radiologists read x-rays in a room and then they see the reports and they don’t think about the public health consequences or what that means,” says pulmonologist Dr Robert Cohen, also a B-reader.
But Crum took another unusual step and alerted Niosh about what he was reading in June 2016. Though Niosh sends a white van wending through the region’s mountains to monitor the health of miners, participation in their voluntary survey was low. The cases and individuals showing up in Crum’s clinic were unexpectedly providing him with a true sampling of the population.

By December of that year, Niosh confirmed Crum’s discovery. The number of black lung cases in Crum’s office was eight times their rates. His single clinic also charted 60 cases of complicated black lung over a 20-month period. This was far and above the 99 cases in the entire nation that Niosh had identified over a five-year period going back to 2011.
An additional study corroborated Crum’s findings: 416 cases of severe black lung had been reported in three Virginia clinics. Niosh recently declared that the US is facing an epidemic, affecting one in 10 miners nationally, and one in five – twice the national rate – in the central Appalachian states of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
Today’s black lung rates are higher than the ones that inspired miners and physicians to push for the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 almost 50 years ago.
“Being from this area and being from a mining family, you always had the older people who had black lung,” says Crum. “It affected them in their 70s. Now with it affecting men as young as their 30s, you have it not only affecting them, you have it affecting the younger children and their families and wives.”
As a fourth generation miner, Crum says, “It’s personal for me.”
“It’s going to be the responsibility of somebody to pay for these men’s healthcare,” says Crum. “Or if they go to transplant.” A lung transplant can generally help a miner survive an additional five years, but costs at least $1.2m, which coal companies are unlikely to be willing to pay.
Earlier this year, Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature passed House Bill-2 (HB-2), which curtails worker’s compensation, including black lung benefits, to 15 years. The bill also cuts radiologists like Crum from the certification process, limiting the doctors who can approve benefits to four pulmonologists. Three of whom consult for the coal industry.
Black lung advocates see HB-2 as singling out Crum. Pikeville black lung claimant attorney Phillip Wheeler openly refers to the bill as “The Dr Brandon Crum Exclusion Bill”. The Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center staff attorney Evan Barret Smith, who edits the blog Devil in the Dustwhich is devoted to the disease, says, “He saw more severe black lung coming into his office than any of the official statistics said he should be seeing. By the way, that’s the same reason that the industry people say he must be wrong.”
When asked about this criticism, J Tyler White, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, the industry’s lobbying organization, said, “I believe this is a very narcissistic approach when the focus should be providing miners with the best qualified medical professional.” (White testified at a state hearing in favor of HB-2’s passage.) The number of physicians that can certify the presence and severity of black lung disease are at issue, though, not claimants’ actual medical care.

Legal hurdles

Black lung costs are exorbitant. The federal Mine Safety Health administration reports that between 1968 and 2014, in which an estimated 76,000 miners died from black lung disease, federal compensation alone cost $45bn. Federal black lung awards, which are granted only in the event of total disability, prove difficult to win, though.
Unless Congress takes action in these final weeks of 2018, the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund will add to the current crisis on 1 January 2019 when the coal tax that pays for it reverts to 1977 levels, which will reduce its revenue by 55% in the middle of the epidemic. As the Lexington HeraldLeader reports, the coal industry has poured over $7m into congressional races in the past two years. Taxpayers, rather than the coal industry, may end up footing the bill for a disease caused by industry negligence and cheating.
While state benefits have historically been easier to receive, HB-2 shows that this is changing.
HB-2 “stacks the deck in favor of the companies”, says Wheeler. Applying for black lung benefits is an adversarial process in which the coalminer is the plaintiff and the coal company is the defendant. The plaintiff must prove black lung is disabling, and that it came from coalmining. The company’s job is to defend itself and not have to pay benefits.
Some of the things coal company doctors come up with to fight a claim are so absurd black lung advocates call them “ABBL” – or “anything but black lung” – disease. Take sarcoidosis, which is most common in African American females from age 20 to 40. Its incidence among Caucasian males is about 0.0001%. They can also limit the number of physicians who can diagnose the disease to create a backlog of cases to ensure that they pay as few benefits as possible.
Kentucky has already succeeded in creating backlogs through various means. Before HB-2 went into effect this July, the wait to receive black lung benefits was about two years.
While the industry can’t get away with targeting a competent physician alone for finding high rates of severe disease, it can find a justification for eliminating an entire class of doctors, such as radiologists. “No one can say that his readings are wrong,” Smith says about Crum, certainly not after Niosh confirmed them. “So, they just try to find a way to knock him out of the system.”
Kentucky is the sole state to exclude radiologists from the black lung benefit process. It’s a move doctors say is nonsensical, particularly during an epidemic. “Without the x-ray, you cannot diagnose,” says Dr Sanjay Chavda, a pulmonologist in western Kentucky and former B-reader. “Those in radiology would be more qualified to read these x-rays than pulmonary specialists. Crum may read 100 x-rays in a day, but we read 10 in a day. His exposure is much broader.”

A bipartisan pair of local legislators are pushing back, though. In mid-November, Angie Hatton, a Democrat, and Robert Goforth, a Republican, pre-filed a bill to reverse HB-2’s restriction of B-readers to pulmonary specialists. The bill will be taken up in the 2019 general assembly starting in January.

‘It’s killing them’

Without doubt, black lung is difficult to diagnose. That early-stage black lung often presents with no symptoms adds to the challenge.
Doctors commonly misdiagnose the early stages in which miners can become prone to bronchitis or pneumonia. It’s not uncommon for a miner to learn he “has the spots” from an x-ray or scan to assess another ailment such as back pain.

Experts contend that, had the cases that ended up in Crum’s load been spread out over 200 clinics, we would still not know this epidemic exists. Pike county, which borders West Virginia and Virginia, is the epicenter for a reason. Hazard No 4, Upper Wax, Pardee, Amburgy, Poplar Lick: central Appalachian coal seams have their own particular poetry and lethalness. Now that thicker seams of coal have been mined out and more rock must be cut, miners have been exposed to greater amounts of respirable crystalline silica dust, which is largely to blame for the spike in complicated black lung.

There are other causes, too: more powerful machinery, longer workdays, fewer days off for miners to rest their lungs and a culture of company fealty that stretches back to coalmining’s earliest days.

Crum’s work histories detail these factors and more. They comprise the largest data collection on central Appalachian coalminers with complicated black lung. These secrets of the disease’s resurgence await Crum’s analysis.illing them.”

Coalmining is also rife with bent rules. Just because a federal protection is in place doesn’t mean companies and miners observe it – employees of Armstrong Coal were recently indicted in western Kentucky for conspiring to falsify dust readings.

“If we figured out how to mine these seams in a safe fashion, it would be worth more than any coal seam or strip job or truck mines that any of these companies would ever have,” says Crum. “They could figure that out and market it to the world.” Thus far, though, no industry executive has come knocking on Crum’s door.

Crum wants to protect miners but he is also a coalmine owner-operator’s grandson who doesn’t “want to see the coal industry hurt. You know, ’cause we were in the coal business forever.”

Crum’s attitude reflects our current coalmining era. In the 1960s, the narrative was the industry versus the workers, who had the public sympathy and strength in numbers. Now, the story that coal country likes to tell itself is one of a beleaguered industry and its workers united against a “war on coal”, in which zealous environmentalists threaten to put them all out of business – though a shrinking global market is the real culprit.
“What we’re seeing in central Appalachia right now is the prequel to what you will see occurring in the rest of the United States coal fields, over the decades to come,” Crum says of the current crisis. He predicts that all of the other coal-producing countries – Canada, China, India, Australia and others – will see an increase in black lung disease as higher-quality seams of coal are mined out. “This is a massive problem. And it’s just gonna get worse.”
“I think with a huge problem there comes huge solutions,” says Crum, maintaining optimism despite all the illness he’s seen in so many men much like him.
“I would just much rather see people come together and figure out how to fix it because we can,” he says. “There’s fewer companies now so you have fewer people that could come together and work together and change it.”
But that doesn’t mean he will be backing down any time soon.
When asked if any of the state’s powerful coal industry leaders have said he’s the bad guy, Crum says, “I’m sure they all think I’m the bad guy, because if these guys have it, then I’m gonna stand up for them.” He then adds, “Because they do have it. And it’s killing them."

3123. Iranian Working Class Begins to Move Again

By Samira Khorasani and Hamid Alizadeh, In Defence of Marxism, December 12, 2018
Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers go on strike
Almost one year since the most widespread mass protests in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no sign that the mood of anger and resentment has gone away. While that movement died down due to repression and a lack of leadership or organization, further protests – as well as strike after strike – have been taking place on a daily basis ever since.
Hundreds of strikes, by factory workers, truck drivers, teachers, and other groups have taken place in the past year in response to extremely low wages, lack of insurance and spiralling inflation.

Haft Tapeh

One of the most prominent strikes is at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane plantation: the largest sugarcane company in Iran, employing upwards of 4,000 people. For years, the workers at Haft Tapeh have been striking and protesting against the dire conditions they are faced with, such as wages going unpaid for months on end.
The present strike started around 2 November and has developed to a major focal point locally, drawing in the whole town of Shush in which the company is by far the largest employer. Thousands of people have been taking to the streets on a daily basis for more than a month, in spite of repression and threats from security forces. The female workers have also been very active since the strike has started. There are only around 50 female workers in this factory but they had a leading role in the strike, have made several powerful speeches and have been actively participating in the demonstrations:
Several of the leading members of the strike have been arrested, one of whom, Esmail Bakhshi, is reported to be in a critical condition due to torture at the hands of the regime. Nevertheless, the workers are determined to continue the struggle.
Over the last period, the workers’ activists at the plant, especially Esmail Bakhshi, played a significant role in mobilising the workers and putting forward the idea of resisting the privatisation of industries. Bakhshi’s radical speeches were widely spread amongst worker and student activists in the country. In these addresses he exposed the fraud that the owners of the company are involved in, using the Haft Tapeh name as a cover for dubious import-export operations, which have nothing to do with sugar production. He also exposed how hundreds of billions of Rials were siphoned off from the factory and from state coffers during the company’s shady privatization process. He pointed out that claims by the authorities about the benefits of the privatisation, such as higher productivity, have no foundation in reality and went on to say that the only real way of raising productivity and getting rid of mismanagement would be the nationalization of the company, and ensuring that the workers, organized in democratic councils, would run the company:
The workers were surrounded by security and riot police forces from the beginning. In one of his speechesBakhshi defiantly told the workers: “Our protests have been spectacular so far, without any trouble for the city, because the whole city has been supporting us and they want to join our protest. Those riot police are here to make these angry people angrier. They want us to confront them, to give them an excuse for them claiming we are troublemakers and show that on their state TV. We will not be deceived by these tactics.”
On 18 November, in his last speech, Esmail said to the protestors:
“Those police forces are those have not taken our slogan seriously so repeat it louder: Neither threats, nor prison, are effective anymore.”
Video of Bakhshi's last speech:
Following this, Bakhshi and 18 other workers (later to be followed by Ali Nejati, a prominent Haft Tapeh unionist), together with a news reporter Sepideh Gholian, were arrested. Under the continuous pressure of the protesters, the state had to release most of the detained workers after a couple of days. It was reported that Esmail Bakhshi was tortured and transferred to hospital, he finally got released on 12 December. Sepideh Gholian and Ali Nejat are still imprisoned.
The Haft Tapeh company was state-owned until 2015, when it was handed over to two companies owned by two young men – Mehrdad Rostami and Omid Asadbeigi – both under 30 years of age, with no prior experience than their connections within the state apparatus. Following this, as is often the case in Iran, these two men began the work of plundering and all but dismantling the company. They transferred the contracts of 2,700 workers to a contractor company and even rented out some of the lands, which repurposed the sugarcane fields for the production of other products. Along with many other instances of corruption and mismanagement, production at the company has slowed significantly, bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the conditions of the workers have been in continuous decline, which has forced them to organize successive strikes.
In the last months, the protests of the workers have intensified, leading to the present strike, which has frozen production completely. While the workers’ initial demand was to receive their unpaid wages, it has now become the renationalization of the company, to be run by a council of workers’ representatives.
The decline of Haft Tapeh clearly encapsulates all the problems caused by privatization in Iran. According to Article 44 of Iran’s constitution, the supreme leader enforces the government transfer of 80 percent of its properties (including big industries like oil, gas, mining and the banks) to the private sector. Of course, this usually means those who have high-level political and financial positions, and/or are close to the supreme leader and revolutionary guards.
Iran used to be self-sufficient in sugar. But beginning in 2002, the sugar industry has been gradually privatized, going 26 percent private in 2003, and 100 percent by 2008. Meanwhile, sugar tariffs have been lowered from 100 percent in 2002, to 4 percent in 2008. The main benefactor of this trade is said to be the multi-millionaire, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, also known as the Sultan of Sugar. Meanwhile, domestic sugar production was gradually dismantled and sold off for quick profits by the regime insiders.
In the present economic conditions, these instances of looting, corruption, and mismanagement are acquiring a more prominent place in the consciousness of the millions who are living on the brink of destitution. Thus, the demand for nationalization of privatized industries is becoming more widespread. The Haft Tapeh strike, in particular, is becoming a focal point of these struggles. After the arrest of a series of leading worker activists, workers throughout the country started sending solidarity messages and organizing pickets for Haft Tapeh. A group of attorneys announced that they are ready to take the case of the arrested workers.
Furthermore, workers from Tehran, Ahvaz, Arak, Kermanshah, Asaluye, Kurdistan, teachers from Kermanshah and many more started sending solidarity messages to the workers of Haft Tappe. Students of Polytechnique University and the University of Tehran also held several demonstrations on campus, demanding the release of the detained workers. Some of the students of Tehran University even joined the workers in Shush to show their support:
Seeing the impact of the Haft Tapeh workers – and especially afraid that its call for nationalization of industry under workers’ management might spread – the regime quickly released all but two of the arrested workers.
In the same province of Khuzestan, the Haft Tapeh workers have also been receiving strong solidarity from another group of workers on strike from the National Steel Industrial Group:
The four steel works of this company have recently been re-privatized. The steelworkers, who are presently on their 32nd day of the strike, have been on several militant strikes this year, one of which lasted 56 days during the spring. The steelworkers initially started by demanding the payment of their insurance fees, new years’ bonuses and months of overdue wages. But, in the course of the struggle, workers have become radicalized and their struggles increasingly politicized, calling for the right to form a workers’ council, demanding the freeing of arrested worker activists, an end to privatization and the return of their factory to public ownership.
Ahvaz workers protesting on Monday 11 December:
The final video depicts the Ahwaz steel workers’ 28th day of strike and protest. The workers' slogans are:
"Exploitation and slavery are the flag of the capitalist system!
"Down with the mafia!
"Students thank you for supporting us!
"Students, workers, unite!
"Free all jailed workers!
"Threats, imprisonment won't stop our protests!
"No to slavery, we will take back our rights!
"The workers would rather die than succumb to a life of indignity!
"Don't be frightened, we are all together!
“Free all Haft Tappeh prisoners!"

Teachers

The struggles of Haft Tapeh and Ahvaz steel are the most radical at the present moment, but a whole series of other struggles are developing, including those by teachers. This profession used to be a pillar of the Islamic regime after the ‘79 Revolution, but in the last period, like many other layers, they have drifted into opposition. In fact, teachers are the only group to have organized a real, national, semi-legal trade union organization. This is on the basis of steadily declining conditions for teachers, most of whom live under the poverty line and are forced to work several jobs to survive.
Teachers' wages are between 4 million and 13 million rials per month, making the lowest pay grades no more worth than $100 at the unofficial exchange rate. According to The Conversation, in 2016, the average monthly wages of an Iranian teacher with 15 years’ experience was 2m tomans (US$473), far below the official poverty line of 2.7m tomans ($600) a month. In 2018, the average was raised to 2.5m tomans. But due to a drastic fall in the value of Iran’s currency, that is now worth around just US$227. Meanwhile, a huge scandal, where US$2.5 billion was embezzled from the Teachers’ Reserve Fund, has not led to anyone being officially charged by the authorities. In fact, one suspect was allowed to escape abroad, making off with more than $100 million of the teachers’ money. This fund was established by the government and has more than 800,000 members, each contributing 5 percent of their wages in return for a share of the interest. It is, therefore, no surprise that resentment is on the rise amongst the teachers.
Calling for a national two-day strike on 14-15 October, the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) said that:
“Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly. What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest this systemic disorder.”
The council said the two-day strike was being launched to protest “unfair wages,” “degradation of education quality,” “inflation,” and “the continuation of the arrest of teachers rights activists.”
One teacher on strike made a video, which went viral, in which he explained the reasons for the strike to his students: 
In the video, he says:
“In protest over arrest of teachers’ trade union activists;
“In protest over commodification and privatisation of education;
“In protest over unsafe and overpopulated classrooms;
“In protest over the content of the coursebooks;
“In protest over discrimination in the education system;
“In protest over vast embezzlement and plunder of public assets.”
According to union reports, the first strike call was adhered to by more than 130 schools, in more than 66 cities and 23 provinces. The union escalated the struggle, calling for another round of strikes on 14-15 November. The second strike saw even higher participation, with action in more than 340 schools in 80 cities and 25 provinces:

Truckers

Another important strike movement has been led by truckers, who in May organized weeks-long, nationwide strikes against inflation and price manipulation. Thousands of truckers in more than 200 cities parked their vehicles, demanding the state intervene to curb runaway inflation in their running expenses, such as spare parts. According to law, spare part importers benefit from state-subsidized dollar prices, so as to keep costs down for domestic distribution and transport. But the manufacturers nevertheless sell the parts at three to five times above the officially guaranteed prices. Meanwhile, the state strictly regulates the truckers’ fares, meaning they cannot make ends meet. The state has increased fares by 20 percent this year, but with runaway inflation, the truckers are demanding a minimum of 40-50 percent.
On 22 September 2018, a new round of strikes started, which (according to The Free Truckers Union) spread to 31 provinces across the country. This time, the regime cracked down hard, and members of the judiciary threatened that those arrested could face the death penalty. After 19 days of strike action, the movement has temporarily died down with up to 300 truckers under arrest. But threats and persecution do not have an effect any longer, as the workers and poor have little left to lose.

Students

The movement of the working class is accompanied by heightened activity amongst students at universities. In the run-up to Student Day (7 December), hundreds of students gathered throughout the country, calling for democratic rights, releasing political prisoners, making a particular point of showing solidarity with the Haft Tapeh and Ahvaz workers. Student Day is a commemoration of the killing of three students by the former Pahlavi regime in 1953. But while the regime organizes official commemorations to prop up its own image, university students use the day to organize anti-regime protests. This year, the struggle of the Ahvaz and Haft Tapeh workers and general worker-student solidarity was at the centre of all student activities. The below videos are snippets of the protests, which were taking place at many universities nationwide. The below videos offer a glimpse of the mood at the universities during these days.
From the elite Amir Kabir University in Tehran, the slogan being chanted at the beginning of the video is: “Cannons, tanks, machine guns, no longer have any effect!”, as well as “Workers, students, unite, unite!”
From the elite Amir Kabir University in Tehran, the slogan being chanted at the beginning of the video is: “Cannons, tanks, machine guns, no longer have any effect!”, as well as “Workers, students, unite, unite!” 
Babol University protest:
Various university protests from around Iran: 
Tehran University protest on Student Day:
The mullah regime thought that it could weather the storm, using the Trump administration’s reimposition of crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy to divert the attention of the masses and rally them behind it against US imperialism. This has been a key strategy of the regime since its inception. But while the sanctions have certainly had an effect on certain layers, in particular, the upper middle class, the vast majority of poor and working people are in a desperate situation. At the same time, the rampant corruption and greed at the top of the regime have alienated even the most loyal of its supporters. Many people ask themselves, “why are we the only ones are asked to sacrifice?”
Victims of Caspian Credit Institute, which went declared bankruptcy, swallowing up thousands of people’s savings. The women are chanting: “High prices, inflation, death to Rouhani!” 
Although they largely ignore the brewing workers’ movement, the western-supported “opposition” media is trying to tap into the mood of resentment and demagogically use it to put pressure on the regime. But, as we can see from the demands that are maturing amongst the masses, they have not been very successful. While the masses resent the regime, they resent western imperialism even more. Particularly now, when US-imposed sanctions are tearing the economy apart.

As we wrote almost a year ago, the protest movement in January 2018 shook the mullah regime to its foundations. Behind the thousands of poor-middle-class and working-class youth who took the streets, stood the millions of poor, desperate and deprived working masses, burning with indignation against the corrupt status ruling class. Since then, nothing has been solved. Those people are now coming to the fore, led by the Iranian working class which is beginning, once more, to enter the arena of struggle. With it have also revived the radical traditions that brought the workers to the cusp of power in 1979. The regime is terrified of the prospect of a working-class uprising. It knows full well that, once the movement of the workers acquires a generalized character, there is nothing on the planet that will be able to stop it.

3122. An Ecosocialist Path to Limiting Global Temperature Rise to 1.5°C

By Richard Smith, System Change not Climate Change, November 28, 2018
A flooded slum in Manila (Aug 2012) Photo: Jason Gutierrez/IRIN

I. The IPCC Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” and the imperative to immediately suppress fossil fuel production

The much-awaited report from the U.N.’s top climate science panel describes the enormous gap between where we are and where we need to be to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. The 2015 Paris climate accord committed industrial nations to reduce their emissions sufficiently to keep global temperatures within a 2°C rise over pre-industrial levels. In the final accord, highly vulnerable island nations and faith communities represented at the UN pressed the authors to include the 1.5°C limit as an aspirational target in the final draft of the accord with 2°C as the backup target.
Soaring GHG emissions over the past five years, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, ice-cap retreats, intensified storms, summer forest fires reaching even above the Arctic circle, and die-offs of the world’s coral reefs have all raised concerns about what even a little bit more warming would bring. Parts of the planet including the Arctic and many inland areas, have already warmed beyond 1.5°C. California is on fire most of the year. The worst hurricanes are twice as severe (more precipitation, slower passage, greater wind speeds) as they used to be. This is just a short start. Climate breakdown occurring much more quickly than expected is one reason why climate scientists now think that the goal just five years ago of limiting warming to 2°C  “increasingly seems disastrous in this context.”[2] The Paris pledges were never sufficient even to keep warming below 3°C let alone 2°C. Few of the signatories have even managed to meet the low bars they set for themselves and he world’s largest countries including China, the U.S., and Canada have us on track to a 4-5°C warming. As CO2 concentrations continue growing, preventing runaway warming is going to require ever deeper, truly draconian cuts in emissions, which will mean greater economic disruption. IPCC estimates already show us needing to achieve a near vertical drop in emissions in the early 2020s. Every day we delay getting off of fossil fuels increases the probability that we won’t be able to save ourselves.
The 2018 IPCC special report painted a stark portrait of how quickly the planet is heating up and called on governments to take immediate steps to suppress emissions:
If emissions continue at current rate, atmosphere will warm by as much as 2.7° Fahrenheit, or 1.5° Celsius, above preindustrial levels by between 2030 and 2052. Further, warming is more extreme further inland of large water bodies. [To keep temperatures from rising beyond 1.5° degrees] anthropogenic CO2 emissions [must] decline by about 45% worldwide from 2010 levels by 2030 . . . [This] would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems. . . . These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale . . . and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upswing in those options.[3]
Preventing ecological collapse requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that “has no documented historic precedent.”[4] What would this take? Myles Allen, Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report said, “It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime.” To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming greenhouse emission must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and by 100 percent by 2050. Use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from 40 percent today to 1-7 percent by 2050.[5] Drew Shindell of Duke University, another author of the report said: It would be an enormous challenge to keep warming below a threshold” of 1.5 degrees . . . What might that look like? In part, it would include things such as no more gas-powered vehicles, a phaseout of coal-fired power plants and airplanes running on biofuels,” he said. “It’s a drastic change,” he said. “These are huge, huge shifts . . . This would really be an unprecedented rate and magnitude of change.”[6] In response to the report, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned world leaders to “Do what the science demands before it’s too late.[7]

II. Capitalist priority to growth and profits over people and planet

Given this unprecedented existential crisis, one might expect governments would responsibly meet this climate emergency with emergency plans to prevent ecological collapse -- bold proposals for “deep emissions reductions in all sectors,” for “far-reaching transitions in energy, land, infrastructure, and manufacturing” and so on. After all, the 2018 IPCC 1.5 C report makes clear that on present trends we could be facing the collapse of agriculture in California, the Great Plains, India, China, and much of Africa along with mass famine, submerging cities, destruction of the world’s last forests and worse, possibly as soon as 2040, well within the lifetime of many leaders today and certainly their and our children.
What’s more, the solution to our climate crisis is astonishingly simple and doesn’t require any new tech breakthroughs. The first step is to stop doing what we’re doing: immediately begin shutting down fossil fuel production, stop new drilling, stop producing and registering fossil fuel-powered vehicles, drastically curb air travel, ration fossil fuels, curtail manufacturing and construction. The second step is to force through an immediate transition to renewable energy across the economy (and do what we can to enable this transition around the world).

A. Where are the bold proposals?

Yet we hear no bold proposals to meet the challenge from any governments -- not from  European socialist parties, not from Canadians or Australians (the leading exporters of the world’s dirtiest fuels), certainly not from the Chinese (the world’s largest polluters who, moreover, are now abandoning the limits on coal-burning they just imposed last year in order to restore growth in the face of the trade war),[8] let alone from the Trump administration. Trump’s response to his own government’s prediction of a 4°C warming by 2100 is “the planet’s fate is sealed” so we may as well abandon Obama’s federal fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks and “burn baby burn.”[9] To the extent we hear any proposals at all, it’s just renewed calls for more of the same carbon taxes, the same fantasy tech fixes like carbon capture and storage that have manifestly failed to staunch emissions to date.[10] Why is that?
The reason why no government dares take the obvious steps to save the humans is because no one has come up with a magic fix to suppress emissions without suppressing economic growth and profits. Given capitalism, economic growth and profit maximization must be systematically prioritized over all other considerations including emissions reduction or companies will fail, the economy will collapse, and mass unemployment will be the result: global warming may kill us in the long run but economic collapse will kill us in the short run. This is the ultimate contradiction of capitalism: We have to destroy our children’s tomorrows to hang onto our jobs today.
That’s why from the very first climate negotiations around the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s, all efforts to contain emissions have been subordinated to maintaining economic growth. Year after year, decade after decade, for 21 straight years to COP21 at Paris in 2015, UNFCC annual summit negotiations invariably collapsed in failure and acrimony. Despite the pleas of climate scientists, desperate submerging Pacific islanders, Africans, Indians and others who contribute few emissions but suffer disproportionately from global warming-induced drought and crop failures, no industrial nation has been willing to accept binding emissions limits because they all understand that caps would suppress economic growth. As George Bush Sr. infamously told the 1992 Climate summit, “The American way of life is not negotiable.” And if America will not accept binding emissions caps, why should China? Facing growing protests over their do-nothing annual summits, the only thing negotiators at Paris could agree on was to stop holding their embarrassing annual farces (henceforth they agreed to meet every five years instead) and contrive another “agreement” in which industrial countries pledged to reduce their emissions somewhat some day but are under no legal obligation to do so -- prompting James Hansen, the world’s foremost climate scientist, to complain that 
It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: “We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.” It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continue to be burned.”[11]

B. Halting global warming requires degrowth, substantial de-industrialization

If there’s no magic tech fix then phasing out fossil fuel consumption has to mean shutting down or at minimum, drastically retrenching companies, beginning with the fossil fuel producers like Peabody Energy (coal), Exxon Mobil, Chevron, but continuing down the petrochemical food chain through the fossil fuel dependent industries. After all, it’s easy to blame the fossil fuel companies for global CO2 emissions.[12] Environmental groups have focused too narrowly on fossil fuel producers, their pipelines and such, while ignoring the downstream industrial and personal consumers. Not to put too fine a point on it but the oil producers don’t burn the oil. We burn the oil producing, processing, transporting and refrigerating food, driving our cars, building our homes, heating and cooling our homes, manufacturing this and that, jetting off on vacations, and so on. Fossil fuels are pervasive. As this table shows, fossil fuel emissions are produced across the entire economy.
Total U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector in 2016
Transportation                                               28.5%
Electricity                                                        28.4%
Industry                                                           22%
Commercial & Residential                          11%
Agriculture                                                        9%       
If governments in the industrialized economies had listened to climate scientists in the 1980s and taken steps then to radically suppress emissions, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the desperate fix we find ourselves in today. But they didn’t. They dithered, stalled, insisted on market “solutions” that were really designed to fail with the result now, after decades of “green capitalism,” we find ourselves facing an existential crisis that admits of only one proximate solution: state intervention to slam the brakes on emissions by shutting down the emitters. If we’re serious about suppressing fossil fuel emissions, then we have to drastically retrench and in some cases completely shut down thousands of downstream fossil fuel-dependent companies in transportation, petrochemicals and plastics, manufacturing, construction,[13] agribusiness, tourism and more in the U.S. alone. In cases like plastics, disposable products and others, we would have to virtually abolish entire industries because there’s just no other way to suppress their emissions and make them sustainable. 

C. Why carbon taxes fail

Three years on from Paris nothing has changed: Soaring emissions, shocking increases in CO2 concentrations, arctic fires and floods notwithstanding, governments, economists, even climate scientists continue to proffer the same old market-based fake solutions: steeper carbon taxes, unproven, impossibly expensive “carbon removal” technologies, and fantastical geoengineering schemes.[14] Everything but the obvious: “deep emissions reductions in all sectors” at “unprecedented speed and scale.”
The UN IPCC scientists themselves called for steep increases in carbon taxes, pushing governments “to set a price high enough to spur truly deep as reductions in carbon emissions.”[15] This approach is hopelessly untenable. Why? Both cap and trade schemes and carbon taxes grew out of the Reagan-era Milton Friedmanite hostility to government “command and control” and the preference of Reagan, Clinton and subsequent governments for market approaches to all problems. The idea was to incentivize businesses and consumers intead of imposing state-mandated quotas or rationing. The carbon tax idea was straightforward: tax fossil fuels and consumers and companies will seek non-fossil fuel alternatives. As taxed coal-fired power plants and fossil-fuel powered motor vehicles became more costly to operate relative to untaxed (and even subsidized) renewable energy and electric cars, over time coal and gas-fired power plants and petrol-powered motor vehicles would fade from the scene. The theory seemed compelling, even obvious, in the abstract.[16] In the real world, carbon taxes don’t work. The whole idea was doomed from the start.[17]
The problem is the economics: If the tax is too light, it fails to suppress fossil fuels enough to help the climate. But if it’s heavy enough to really suppress them, then companies and consumers balk and resist the tax -- because without any safety net for businesses and consumers, the entire burden falls on them, so they rationally resist to save profits and jobs. Thus to date, the only carbon taxes that have proven acceptable to governments and the voting public are those which are too light to do the job. More than 40 governments including EU, California and British Columbia have imposed taxes on carbon but none has put more than a trivial dent in emissions.[18] A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the average carbon price across 42 major economies was around $8 per ton in 2018 (that’s equal to 7 cents on a gallon of gasoline) -- “far below the level that the IPCC scientists say is necessary to address climate change.”[19]No government will set a price high enough to spur truly deep reductions in carbon emissions because they all understand that this would force companies out of business, throw workers out of work, and possibly precipitate recession or worse. What government wants that?
The carbon tax “blueprint for destroying the world economy”
                                                                                                            -- Heritage Foundation
Given relentlessly growing emissions, and given the failure of modest carbon taxes to suppress fossil fuel production to date, the desperate IPCC climate scientists called on governments to impose truly draconian taxes -- on the order of $135 to $5,500 per ton, even $27,000 per ton -- whatever it takes to suppress fossil fuel consumption enough to keep global warming below 1.5° Celsius.[20]
The pro-market Heritage Foundation, not surprisingly, skewered this recommendation arguing that taxing industries by anything like these numbers “would bankrupt families and businesses and trigger a global economic disaster.” The IPCC plan, they said is “a blueprint for destroying the world economy.”[21] Given capitalism, they’re right, of course. In a world of abstract models, the carbon tax strategy works perfectly. But in the real world, with real investors and real employees -- and without a rationally planned, carefully managed wind-down and phase-out combined with guaranteed state support for the investors and guaranteed “just transitions” for the affected workers, the imposition of draconian carbon taxes would bankrupt some of the largest companies in the world, precipitate a stock market crash, throw millions out of work, and most likely “destroy the world economy.” Voters intuitively understand this. That’s why they just voted down the carbon tax in Washington state. And if voters won’t pass Washington’s trivial $15 a ton tax (equal to 13 cents on a gallon of gasoline), why would scientists think they would pass a tax of $135 (or $1.20 on the gallon), let alone $5,500 a ton ($48.95 a gallon!)?[22] To ask the question is to answer it. Just the opposite: it’s guaranteed to turn people against the whole project, as France's President Macron also discovered.[23] And yet if we don’t in effect drive the fossil fuel companies out of business, our goose is cooked. So what to do?

D. FDR’s “command-and-control” economy that worked

If governments really wanted to suppress emissions they could simply ration fossil fuels like FDR did during WWII when he rationed private consumption to divert maximum supplies to the war effort. They could inaugurate a crash program to phase out fossil fuels. They could simply order America’s private companies to shut down private vehicle production and change their production output from fossil fuel vehicles to, say, electric cars, public transit, wind turbines, solar power plants, just as FDR ordered GM, Ford and other companies to stop producing private cars and start producing tanks, bombers, fighter planes, artillery, machine guns, ammunition, just as he ordered Packard to build fighter aircraft and PT boat engines, just as he ordered Chrysler to build diffusers to process uranium for atomic bombs. And so on. FDR’s virtual takeover of the commanding heights of American industry during WWII was tantamount to a temporary nationalization but his “command and control” was accepted by labor and capital and it succeeded – brilliantly -- providing the industrial base to win the war.[24]
We would no doubt require the declaration of an emergency comparable to WWII to win the approval of Congress and the American people. WWII certainly qualified as an emergency. Even so, fascism killed tens of millions but it did not threaten the extinction of life on earth. Global warming threatens extinction. Is saving the humans, not to mention the whales, less of an emergency than saving General Motors or Boeing or Apple? If Roosevelt could turn the economy on a dime to meet the emergency of WWII, why can’t we do the same today? If we don’t organize an emergency industrial shutdown and retrenchment of unnecessary production, superfluous manufacturing, superfluous electricity usage, wasteful over-consumption, nature is going to do it for us in a most unpleasant manner.
Yet today we can’t get a fair public debate on the need for state intervention in the economy because since the age of Thatcher and Reagan, Milton Friedman’s maxim “capitalism good, government bad” has been the reigning ideology of Republicans and Democrats, Tories and Labour alike. Since the 1980s Friedmanite economists and their Koch-funded think tanks have produced a relentless stream of propaganda “proving” that “command and control” or almost any “government intervention” is “bad” and “can’t work.”[25] Reagan told us businesses don’t want to be ordered about and told what to do like FDR did. They want to be “incentivized.” Since the 1980s Republicans and Democrats alike have steadily whittled away and gutted government regulation and control wherever possible,[26] clearing the way for Trump’s coup de grâce at the EPA this past year. In the process, their “market solutions,” like carbon taxes, have completely failed to staunch emissions.

III. THE ECOSOCIALIST PATH TO 1.5°C SUSTAINABILITY

We ecosocialists have a practical answer. We accept the science that to prevent runaway global warming “greenhouse emission must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and by 100 percent by 2050.” We agree with the IPCC that this will require “deep emissions reductions in all sectors.” We agree that it will require “far-reaching transitions in energy, land, infrastructure, and manufacturing,” that it will require “systems transitions” (indeed, more than they imagine). And we understand that this must all be done at “unprecedented speed and scale.” “We understand that we desperately need to “do what the science demands before it’s too late.
But we also understand that imposing drastic cuts in fossil fuel production has to translate into industrial shutdowns and retrenchments across the economy. There is just no way around this. We reject the carbon-tax-to-collapse scenario. Instead, we propose a strategy of rationally planned, democratically managed, wind-down and phase-out of fossil fuels and a coordinated transition to renewable energy that avoids economic collapse and guarantees reemployment for the affected workers. Our strategy is based on a three-point
An Emergency Plan to meet the Climate Emergency:
1. Declare a State of Emergency to suppress fossil fuel use: Ban all new extraction, ration gasoline and diesel, ban production of new fossil-fuel vehicles. Nationalize the fossil fuel industry to phase it out. We do not call for expropriation. We propose a government buyout at fair value (fair to both owners and society). Nationalization will need to extend beyond fossil fuel producers to dozens or hundreds of industrial fossil-fuel dependent industries from pipelines, refineries, distribution networks to power generation, autos, aviation, petrochemicals, some manufacturing, tourism and others whose business is irreversibly based on fossil fuels and which without a government buyout would be bankrupted.
2. Institute a new federal Public Works Administration-style jobs program (on the model of the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Core and other programs set up under FDR) to re-employ every worker in the fossil fuel-related industries at equivalent pay and benefits in other useful but low-emission work. Those workers in coal, oil, plastics, toxic chemicals and so on deserve jobs, just not the jobs they have now.
3. Launch an emergency state-directed crash program to phase-in renewable electric generation, replace fossil-fuel powered transportation with electric propulsion, discourage individually-owned vehicles where possible and encourage their replacement with public transit, shared vehicles, bicycles and other non-fossil fuel modes of transportation. Develop emergency plans to retrench industries including air travel, shipping, and other large CO2 emitters. And develop emergency plans to shift from fossil-fuel dependent factory farms to fully organic agriculture. 

A. The argument for nationalization

If fossil fuel companies can’t reverse their suicidal growth-to-bust trajectory, then what alternative is there but to nationalize them, socialize them, put them under public ownership to phase them out?[27] We say to Democrats, Republicans, capitalists, and pro-fossil fuel trade unions too, “If you have a better strategy to save the planet, where is it?” As Juliana vs. United States (the Our Children’s Trust suit which is now working its way through the courts) contends, the federal government has a responsibility to preserve a habitable planet to maintain “life, liberty, property” for the next generations. The plaintiffs argue that preserving a habitable planet requires that the government immediately begin enforcing strict limits on CO2 emissions, immediately develop plans to phase out of fossil fuel production, and ban all further extraction (Section 7 p. 80ff).
Since the companies can’t put themselves out of business, the only way to effect the phase-out of fossil fuels without precipitating economic collapse is for the government to nationalize the companies so we can dismantle them and redeploy their capital and labor with as little economic pain as possible. For too long, the environment has been systematically sacrificed on the altar of profits, jobs -- kicking the can down the road till we kick it and ourselves over the cliff. We can save the fossil fuel industrial complex for few more decades till we collapse, or we can reverse these priorities and save the planet. That’s the choice before humanity today.
Of course, politicians will holler about the cost. The cost is significant but affordable, a bargain actually. The ten largest American oil and gas companies claim a combined value in 2018 of $968.1 billion (Exxon Mobil is valued at $344.5 billion, Chevron $239 billion, ConocoPhillips $79.3, and the others from $68 to $33 billion).[28] The two major coal companies have a trivial net worth (Peabody at $3.6 billion, Arch at $1.5 billion). But the IEA says that in truth, the world’s fossil fuel industries are worth a fraction of their claimed value because most of their assets – the oil and gas and coal in the ground -- are fast becoming valueless “stranded assets” as electric utilities and vehicle manufacturers shift to renewable power and because of growing political pressure to “leave it in the ground.”[29]Given their looming existential profits crisis, the companies might actually welcome a buyout. But if society is to pay a fair price for those companies, their nominal retail value would have to be discounted by the harm their production has already done to people and planet. On any fair assessment, that would leave these companies owing the government, not the other way around. Yet even at their current retail value, just under a trillion dollars, by the standards of wasted U.S. expenditures, this is affordable. President Trump just gave away $2.3 trillion in tax cuts to the rich this year alone.[30] Just rescinding that inexcusable giveaway would cover the cost of nationalizing the entire fossil fuel producing industry and leave enough left over to buy up the bulk of America’s fossil fuel-burning industries as well including Boeing, the major airlines, the American auto industry, the worst polluting chemical industries, and leave billions to spare. Boeing’s net worth is $95 billion, the seven largest U.S. airlines have a combined market capitalization of $130 billion, the American auto industry, Ford, GM and Tesla (excluding Chrysler which was bought by Italy’s Fiat in 2011), has a combined value of $277 billion, the big dirty three of Dow-Dupont, Monsanto, and 3M combined are worth $225 billion. The government could buy all these companies, even without discounts for their social and environmental crimes, for a paltry $727 billion. Add in the bulk of private and shareholder-owned gas and electric utility sector, 20 companies with a combined market value of $557 billion, and the government could buy up all of America’s fossil fuel producers and the bulk of its fossil fuel-burners for $2.26 trillion and still have some pocket money left after rescinding Trump’s tax giveaway to the rich.[31]
Further, we could rescind the dozens of other needless tax cuts and handouts to the rich since the days of Reagan. We could impose the fines on the banks that Obama and Trump failed to impose.[32] We could restore the progressive tax structure we use to have before Reagan. And we could use these funds to rebuild our infrastructure, fund the transition to renewables, upgrade and properly fund our destitute public schools,[33] fund a comprehensive health care system for all, properly fund our skinflint Social Security system, and build a decent society. Finally, we can’t build a decent society for anyone if we don’t gut the imperial war budget (nearly three-quarters of a trillion a year). According to the most recent study, by the end of 2019, the U.S. government will have spent a staggering $5.9 trillion on its illegal criminal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria since September 11, 2001[34] -- wars that were never fought for democracy and certainly not for defense since none of those countries attacked us but were, instead, imperial wars to protect “our” oil under “their” sand.[35]
Thus, we categorically reject, in advance, any argument that the government cannot afford to buy out the fossil fuel producers and dependent industries to save the humans. On the contrary, we maintain that even at a retail value of $2.25 trillion, this buyout of fossil fuel producers and burners is a bargain – barely more than a third of what the U.S. has squandered (so far) on its oil wars in the Middle East since 2011.[36] Plus, since the U.S. military is the largest institutional GHG emitter, cutting the military budget would also slash emissions from this sector.     

B.The argument for a new Public Works Administration-style jobs program

Under capitalism, closing and retrenching companies mean throwing workers out on the street. We’re socialists. We don’t accept that. If capitalists won’t provide the jobs then it’s the government’s responsibility to do so. We, the voting public, assert our ownership of the government, not the corporations. Today we face an existential threat to our survival and the only way to prevent collapse is to slam the brakes on the industries that are destroying us. It’s not the workers’ fault if the industries they work in need to be closed or cut back to save our children and theirs. They deserve jobs, different jobs, better jobs. If society is going to abolish their present jobs then it owes them new jobs with comparable pay and benefits. This is not only morally right but it’s also the only way we can win the support of those workers in the struggle for the common good.
There’s no end of low-carbon work that needs to be done: infrastructure repair and upgrades, a vast expansion of renewable energy, transitioning to fully organic farming, a massive expansion of public transit, commuter biking, development of share-vehicle commuting, environmental restoration, housing upgrading, heating and environmental retrofitting, upgrading and improving our schools, expanding medical care, expanding services and facilities for our retired workforce and more. If capitalists can’t figure out how to make a profit doing it, then society through our government must employ them – just as FDR’s New Deal public works programs of the 1930s built tens of thousands of projects -- dams, electric utilities, airports, highway systems, bridges, tunnels, new railways, gorgeous train stations, glorious city halls and post offices, incredibly beautiful parks, beautiful public schools, modern hospitals, public universities and more.[37] FDR’s construction programs built the bulk of this country’s national infrastructure that we still rely on today. If in the midst of depression, the government could afford to provide full-time government-funded jobs for tens of millions of workers from 1933 through the 1940s, becoming the nation’s largest employer by far, our immensely wealthier society and government can easily afford to re-employ the millions of workers from the fossil fuel-based industries to construct a permanently sustainable economy.

C. The imperative of economic planning and democratic management 

After they wrecked the economy and plunged us into the Great Depression in 1929, America’s capitalists couldn’t pull themselves together to restore economic growth. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigning on a state-interventionist, help-the-poor “NewDeal,” won a landslide victory over “do-nothing” Herbert Hoover who was deservedly blamed for letting the Depression get as bad as it did and reviled for his failure to intervene to rescue the economy and the citizenry. President Roosevelt turned the government into the biggest economic engine and the biggest employer in U.S. history, creating a state-directed capitalism, organizing a powerful state planning apparatus, setting up federal employment programs, and superintending construction of the country’s first basic social safety net  – transformations that handed him three more landslide victories in 1936, 1940 and 1944. Roosevelt and Congress established the National Resources Planning Board (NRPB) in 1933 to organize public works programs to put people back to work, revive the economy, and modernize our infrastructure. This was the first and so far only national planning agency in U.S. history. It evolved from public works planning to broader social and economic planning and then to mobilize and direct resources for the war effort. Regional planning groups were created in New England and the Pacific Northwest. Most states established planning agencies while planning boards emerged in many cities. Capitalist ideological hostility to economic planning per se – they couldn’t stand the threat of a good example -- eventually forced Congress to abolish the national board in 1943. But NRPB legacies included wartime and postwar planning, the first version of the G.I. Bill of Rights, the Second (Economic) Bill of Rights (a manifesto for postwar liberalism), an institutionalized policy planning process via the Council of Economic Advisors, and the annual federal budget process established by the Employment Act of 1946.[38]
The existential crisis we face is, to say the least, far more dire and urgent than the Great Depression. And here again, capitalism has no solution to the crisis it created because the capitalist solution to everything is the same growth that got us into this crisis in the first place. That’s why we argue that the only way to break the drive to collapse is to socialize the commanding heights of the economy. We don’t need to nationalize the entire economy. Small producers, worker co-ops, family farmers, mom & pop shops, restaurants and so on, aren’t killing the planet. Large corporations are killing the planet. They can’t help themselves. To preserve a habitable world we need to take them under public ownership so we can rationalize, reprioritize and restructure production to create a permanently sustainable, if somewhat less industrialized, economy.

D. System change not climate change

It is perhaps concievable, taking FDR’s war-emergency industrial reordering as a precedent, that the three-point plan just described for fossil fuels buyout-nationalization, state-directed emergency transition to renewables, and creation of a large federal jobs program, could be enacted within the framework of capitalism, though the result would be a largely state-owned economy. Roosevelt created his state-directed capitalism with only modest, if increasing, ruling class resistance because, first, he revived a broken capitalism from the depths of the worst depression in history and saved it from communism, secondly, he never needed to actually nationalize the industries he effectively took over because he was paying their owners hansomely to expand and grow their companies, if by producing different products, and thirdly, this was all just a temporary encumbrance, limited to the duration of World War II. 
We face the opposite problem: We face a booming capitalist economy at the top of its form with a powerful entrenched ruling class in full command of their economy and their state. What’s more, we need to nationalize industries not to grow them but to phase many of them out, or at minimum to transform GM from an automaker into, say, a wind-turbine maker or a train manufacturer, and permanently. Given the “unprecedented scale” of the the problems we face, given the “far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure . . . and industrial systems” we need to make, and given the speed with which we need to make these changes, it’s difficult to imagine how this could be done within the framework of any capitalism. Private ownership of the means of production, profit maximization, and market competition have been the leading drivers of global ecological collpase and pose the main barrier to the rational reorganization, restructuring and reprioritization of the economy we need to make to save the humans. The depth and urgency of our climate crisis cries out for something like an immediate transition to ecosocialism. We don’t have many decades left before its too late to bother trying.
The IPCC climate scientists tell us we have just a dozen years or so to rein in our growth-to-bust economic system and come up with an effective pollution-suppression plan and mechanisms to staunch CO2 emissions. Ocean scientists tell us we need a Five-Year Plan to save the oceans.[39] We need global plans to save the oceans, save the forests, save species from going extinct.[40] This requires generalized large-scale economic planning. The problems we face with respect to the environment and the climate, can’t be solved by private corporations competing in an anarchic market.[41] Saving the world requires the sort of large-scale economic planning that only governments can do. We need to replace market anarchy with rational planning and management of a mostly, though not necessarily entirely, publicly-owned economy.[42]

E. Planning for the common good requires democracy.

Rational planning requires democracy. Polls show that 69% of Americans (85% of those ages 18-29), 71% of Chinese, 87% of Europeans, nine-in-ten Ugandans, Tanzanians, South Koreans, Chileans, and Brazilians want binding limits imposed on CO2 emissions.[43]Corporations don’t want binding limits. Well, why don’t we get to vote on such questions? We don’t need to be experts. Corporate boards aren’t composed of experts. They’re composed of major investors and politically influential VIPs who solicit experts to advise them, then vote to decide what they want to produce and sell, and hire engineers to figure out how to get it done. Why can’t society do the same – but in the interest of the common good? We need to establish democratic institutions to plan and manage our social economy -- planning boards at local, regional, national and international levels. We have plenty of examples from the Paris Commune to Polish Solidarity in 1980. We have the example of FDR’s National Resources Planning Board -- established by an elected president and congress. And as Greg Palast and co-authors describe in their book on regulation of public utilities, we have a working prototype right now: 
Unique in the world . . . every aspect of US regulation is wide open to the public. There are no secret meetings, no secret documents. individuals, industrial customers, government agencies, consumer groups, trade unions, the utility itself, even its competitors. Any and all citizens and groups are invited to take part: Everyone affected by the outcome has a right to make their case openly…In public forums, open to all citizens, the principles of social dialogue and transparency come to life. It is an extraordinary exercise in democracy–and it works.[44]    
We see no reason why this cannot be scaled up to the whole economy. If the major U.S. political parties offer no solution to the climate crisis, if they abdicate their responsibility to preserve a habitable planet for our children, then its up to the American left to provide vision and leadership in this struggle -- and right now that looks to be the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America (of which I am a proud member). As Maria Swart wrote to members on October 23rd
Limiting global warming below 2 degrees is going to take a monumental mobilization of people from all walks of life, demanding that our lives matter more than corporate interests. Neither Republicans or Democrats have risen to the task of leading this effort. In the absence of their political leadership, we must rise to the occasion.

IV. FROM FDR TO AOC: THE GREEN NEW DEAL

Congressional Representative-elect (D. New York) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC), the whip-smart self-confident 28 year-old DSAer who won office on the Democratic ticket, has risen to the occasion, drafting a proposed Plan for a Green New Deal that she hopes will be taken up by the new Congress in January 2019. The Plan (and the draft legislation) she writes, shall require the achievement within 10 years from start of excution the following:[45]
  1. 100% of national power generation from renewable sources,
  2. building a national, energy-efficient, “smart” grid,
  3. upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
  4. decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
  5. decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
  6. funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
  7. making “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to a completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal
AOC’s Green New Deal does not stop with decarbonization. She writes that “The Plan . . . shall recognize that a national, industrial, economic mobilization of this scope and scale is a historic opportunity to virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation. In furtherance of the foregoing, the Plan (and draft legislation) shall: 
  1. provide all members of our society, across all regions and all communities, the opportunity, training and education to be a full and equal participant in the transition, including through a job guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one
  2. take into account and be responsive to the historical and present-day experiences of low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, rural and urban communities and the front-line communities most affected by climate change, pollution and other environmental harm;
  3. mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth (including, without limitation, ensuring that federal and other investment will be equitably distributed to historically impoverished, low income, deindustrialized or other marginalized communities 
  4. include additional measures such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism; and
  5. deeply involve national and local labor unions to take a leadership role in the process of job training and worker deployment.”

What's said and not said 

To be sure, the process of “decarbonization” outlined above is abstract, lacks specifics, and is far from fully worked out. Most obviously, it’s hard to imagine how the government could decarbonize fossil-fuel producers and industrial consumers without taking them into public hands. What's not said is that decarbonization has to translate into shutdowns and retrenchments of actual companies. How does one decarbonize ExxonMobil or or Chevron or Peabody Coal? To decarbonize them is to bankrupt them. Further, the same is true for many downstream industrial consumers like Boeing, United Airlines, Duke Energy, Dow Chemical, Dupont, General Motors and others. These companies live and breathe fossil fuels. Someday there may be electric airliners but not in the foreseeable future. And it's the near term, the next dozen years that are the most critical. Given the imperative need to radically suppress CO2 emissions from aviation, the only way to do that in the here and now is to drastically cut back on flying and thus aircraft production: ground many if not most planes, and ration flying. But there is no mention of shutdowns, retrenchments, buyouts or nationalization. That will need to be addressed, and soon, if the GND Plan is to move from the abstract to the concrete. 
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the GND Plan is that it's not based on a the fundamental understanding that an infinitely growing economy is no longer possible on a finite planet. There’s no acknowledgement of the imperative need for economic de-growth of many industries or of the need to abolish entire unsustainable industries from toxic pesticides to throw-away disposables to arms manufactures. This too is going to have to be addressed if the GND aspires to create a truly sustainable economy.  
"Decarbonization": a self-radicalizing transitional demand
And yet, the audacity and breadth of the technical and socio-economic transformations here envisioned call to mind nothing so much as the economic and social revolution that FDR’s New Deal brought about (albeit within the framework of capitalism), and goes beyond him in some respects. Occasio-Cortez maybe just 28 but she is a bold, feminist, anti-racist, and socialist-inspired successor to FDR. With this Green New Deal, she's taking the global warming discussion to a new level, changing the conversation and challenging the political economy. She's not calling for cap and trade or carbon taxes or divestment or any other market "solutions." She's issuing a full-throated call for "decarbonization," in effect throwing the guantlet down to capitalism and challenging the system because, as we know, there is no way to decarbonize an economy based on endless growth, endless resource consumption, and thus inevitably, endless pollution and CO2 emissions. Thus the push for decarbonization must inevitably raise the question of nationalization because, how else can the government enforce the retrenchments and shutdowns needed to save the planet without precipitating economic collapse? The nationalization of the coal and oil producers, the obvious first targets, would, in turn, raise the question of what to do about all the industries that are based on fossil fuels -- autos, aviation, petrochemicals, plastics, construction, manufacturing, shipping, tourism, and so on. And consideration of how to decarbonize those industries would, in turn, raise larger questions about who should decide what gets produced, or not -- private companies or society as a whole, through democratic processes. Thus the push for decarbonization is simultaneously a push for democratization.
AOCs’ Plan is first of all, a definitive break with the Reagan-Thatcher-Friedman “capitalism good, government bad” doctrine which holds that the best role for governmenti is to “get out of the way and just incentivize the private sector.” Instead, the Plan calls for robust expansive government to drive the needed changes, for two reasons: (1) scale and (2) time: First, “The level of investment required will be massive. Even if all the billionaires and companies came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient.” Besides, “private companies are wary of making massive investments in unproven research and technologies; the government, however, has the time horizon to be able to patiently make investments in new tech and R&D, without necessarily having a commercial outcome or application in mind at the time of the investment.” Second: “The speed of investment required will be massive. Even if all the billionaires and companies could make the investments required, they would not be able to pull together a coordinated response in the narrow window of time required to jump-start major new projects and major new sectors.”    
AOC explicitly rejects the Reaganite assertion of the superiority of the private sector and the efficacy of incentives: “We’ve also seen that merely incentivising the private sector doesn’t work – e.g. the tax incentives and subsidies given to wind and solar projects have been a valuble spur to growth in the US renewables industry but, even with such investment-promotion subsidies, the present level of such projects is simply inadequate to transition to a fully carbon neutral economy as quickly as needed. . . we’re not saying there isn’t a role for private sector investments; we’re just saying that the level of investment required will need every actor to pitch in and that the government is best placed to be the prime mover.”
Secondly, AOC explicitly makes a powerful case for state planning: She calls for a new Select Committee “with a 360° view” to serve the specific function of “examin[ing] emerging issues that do not fit clearly within existing standing committee jurisdictions or cut across jurisdictional boundaries.” The Select Committee requires “a mandate to develop a plan for the transformation of our economy to become carbon neutral.” Having its own Select Committee “ensures constant focus on climate change as the standing committee deals with that and many other issues of the day -- such as wild fires in California, infrastructure, clean water issues, etc. First, they would put together the overall plan for a Green New Deal - they would have a year to get the plan together, with the plan to be completed by January 1, 2020. The plan itself could be in the form of a report or several reports. Second, they would also put together the draft legislation that actually implements the plan.”
This is not yet FDR’s Planning Board. It has no power to nationalize industries, nor is it clear that it would even have the power to order companies like GM to stop producing, say, SUVs, and start producing wind turbines or high-speed trains à la FDR. But as our climate emergency steadily worsens, it will become increasingly apparent that such government planning and direction is essential, and that nationalization via buyouts is the only way to enforce decarbonization while also forestalling capitalist opposition as best we can. 
Of course, all this sounds wildly utopian in our present political context and this Plan is certain to go nowhere under Trump and a Republican Senate. But a vigorous campaign for this Plan will show why capitalism cannot solve the worst crisis it has ever created and encourage demands for government intervention, government planning to suppress emissions. After all, polls have long shown that citizens want and expect the government to lead the fight against climate change by limiting CO2 emissions, in effect to “do what the science demands before it’s too late.” Let’s hope that with a developing vision and a monumental mobilization around this Green New Deal and around fossil fuel nationalization, we can derail the capitalist drive to ecological collapse and build an ecosocialist civilization to save the human race




[1] Author's Note: Thanks to David Klein, Nancy Holmstrom, Bill Tabb, William Neil, Marie Venner, Zack Eldrege, and Ted Franklin for their helpful suggestions and criticism. I remain solely responsible for the remaining errors and inadequacies of this paper.
[2] Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, “Climate scientists are struggling to find the right words for very bad news,” Washington Post, October 3, 2018.
[3] IPCC, “Global Warming of 1.5°”(October 7, 2018).
[4] Ibid. Also Coral Davenport, “”Major report describes a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040,” New York Times, October 7, 2018.
[5] Davenport, “Major report” op cit.                                                                                             
[6] Mooney and Dennis, “Climate scientists struggling,” op cit.
[7] Somini Sengupta, “Projection on climate is ominous. Now what?” New York Times, October 10, 2018.
[8] Jane Cai, “Northern China’s clear air get lost in the smog of the trade war,” South China Morning Post, November 15, 2018.
[9]Juliet Eioperin et al., “Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100,” Washington Post, September 28, 2018.
[10] Eg. Jim Snyder and Mark Drajem, “FutureGen’s demise means carbon capture for coal faces woes,” Bloomberg, Februay 5, 2015.
[11] Oliver Milman, “James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud”, Guardian, December 12, 2015. And not just Hansen. The “Paris pledge” drew blistering condemnation from scientists around the world. See Tom Bawden, “COP21: Paris deal far too weak to prevent devastating climate change, academics warn,” Independent, January 8, 2016.
[12] As does, for example, Tess Riley, “Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says,” Guardian, July 10, 2017.
[13] The construction industry is the largest single consumer of (petrochemical-derived) plastics and plastic packaging, accounting for about a third of all plastics production. Though not always visible in buildings, they’re used in a wide and growing range of applications including weather insulation, piping, window frames, protection and finishes. The majority of construction waste is also plastic. Roma Saini, “Plastic waste! Why all the fuss?,” Willmot Dixon Interiors, February 14, 2018.  
[14] Brad Plumer, “Scientists push for a crash program to scrub carbon from the air,” New York Times, October 24, 2018. Cf. Howard J. Herzog, “Why we can’t reverse climate change with ‘negative emissions’ technologies,” The Conversation, October 9, 2018.
[15] Brad Plumer, “U.N. climate report urges putting a price on carbon,” New York Times, October 9, 2018.
[16] It might seem surprising that leading oil companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP officially support carbon taxes. They do so because they understand that at some point governments are going to impose some kind of tax on carbon emissions and they want the best deal they can get if they have to be taxed at all. They’ve deeply resisted “cap and trade” schemes, effectively dooming them everywhere, because cap and trade would impose a limit to growth. They see carbon taxes aas the lesser evil. So long as carbon taxes are modest, they pose no existential threat to their business because they impose no cap on production, no limit to growth. They’re just another cost of doing business, like other taxes, and one that can be passed on to the consumer. Meanwhile, growth can continue. BP’s 2018 Energy Outlook projects that global energy demand will grow by a third between now and 2040. BP and the other oil giants aim to cash in on that growth. That’s why the day after the IPCC report was released, ExxonMobil contributed a million dollars to jumpstart a carbon tax program. They’re not fools. They’re not looking to put themselves out of business. They’re looking to maximize returns, to grow their business while posing as good corporate citizens, paying their taxes (if they have to), contributing to the “solution.” Yet while rhetorically  supporting carbon taxes, they simultaneously spend millions to defeat carbon taxes whenever they come up for a vote, as they did with success in Washington this last election. See: Ben Gamen, “Big oil companies want a price on carbon. Here’s why,” The Atlantic, June 1, 2015. Richard Smith, Green Capitalism: The God That Failed (London: WEA Press, 2016), pp. 59-64. Ed Crooks, “ExxonMobil gives $1m to campaign for a carbon tax,” Financial Times, October 9, 2018.
[17] See my discussion of this in Green Capitalism, pp. 61-64.
[18] Eg. Food and Water Watch, The British Columbia Carbon Tax: a Failed Experiment in Market-Based Solutions to Climate Change, October 24, 2016: . Also: Lenore Taylor, “The carbon tax is dead and there is nothing credible to take its place,” Guardian, July 16, 2014 (on the failed Australian tax).
[19] Plumer, “Putting a price on carbon,” op cit.
[20] Plumer, “Putting a price on carbon,” op cit.
[21] Heritage Foundation, “IPCC climate report merely a blueprint for destroying the world economy,” October 17, 2018: .
[22] Thanks to Professor David Klein for the ton-gallon conversions.
[23] Climate scientist James Hansen has proposed a variation on this theme, his “carbon tax, and dividend” plan. Under this plan, consumers would pay a $1 tax per gallon on gasoline but they would receive a “dividend” check for the amount they were taxed back from the government at the end of the year. Painless! Great! The folly of this scheme is that if there’s no pain there’s no gain. The average American driver consumed 656 gallons of gasoline in 2016. If he or she were to get a refund of the $656 carbon tax, what’s to prevent them from spending that refund on, say, a new flat-screen TV (the production of which produces lots of CO2 emissions), or a Jet–Blue round-trip flight to Cancun, $268 from NYC (far more emissions than their car produces in a year) either of which they could easily afford with that tax refund? No pain -- but no gain either.
[24] Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge (New York: Random House, 2012); A.J. Baime, The Arsenal of Democracy (Boston: Mariner, 2015).
[25] For a critique of this capitalist nonsense see Richard Smith, “Six theses on saving the planet,” Next System Project, 2017:, PDF pp. 20ff.
[26] For example, President Obama’s much-ballyhooed program to “double vehicle fuel efficiency by 2025” was a con job, custom designed to service Detroit’s desire to build humongous cars by including a gaping loophole based on “vehicle footprints” which let the Big Three and others build ginormous gas-hog trucks and SUVs – Sierras and Ticonderogas and Denalis and Armadas and Suburbans that get worse gas mileage that Cadillac land yachts of the 1950s – but still meet their “fleet mileage” targets (As I noted elsewhere, “Your typical 1955 Cadillac coupe DeVille got 12.9 mpg in city driving whereas your typical 2013 Cadillac Escalade gets 10 mpg in the city. . . and this is after six decades of Detroit’s fuel economy “’improvements’”: Green Capitalism: the God That Failed, p.131). Thus Obama let the industry push gas-hogs at the expense of gas-sippers while his “drill baby drill” program to frack the whole country conveniently supplied so much cheap gas that Americans all but abandoned small cars in favor of giant overaccessorized gas-hogs which have become the biggest sellers. In result, U.S. vehicle fleet mileage actually declined under Obama. Brilliant. Worse, it “incentivized” Detroit to abandon producing actual cars altogether. By spring 2018, Detroit auto companies announced they would stop producing economical small cars to focus on producing their profitable luxury hogs. So much for “win-win” market solutions. Roger Ferris, “The steadily disappearing American car,” CNBC News, April 6, 2018.
[27] We’re hardly original here. Others have also argued for nationalization to phase-out fossil fuels. See Carla Skandier, “Nationalize the fossil fuel industry,” In These Times, November 17, 2017; and “Quantitative easing for the planet,” The Next System Project, August 30, 2018; and Peter Gowan, “A plan to nationalize fossil fuel companies,” Jacobin, March 2018. This plan differs in several respects from those: First, Skandier and Gowan focus exclusively on the fossil fuel producing industries: coal, oil, and gas. We contend that any nationalization of producers would inevitably also require nationalization of most of the industrial consumers in transportation, petrochemicals, some manufacturing (autos, Boeing etc.), services (airlines, likely some tourism, ) distributors, and so on. Secondly, whereas Gowan looks to hiring freezes, voluntary redundancies, and the welfare state and union-run retraining schemes “to smooth out the transition as much as possible,” we call for nothing less than iron-clad government-funded job guarantees at comparable pay and benefits. Given the need for immediate and rapid shutdowns and retrenchments, nothing less than this has a chance of winning worker support in those industries. Thirdly, this plan insists on a parallel and coordinated emergency phase-in of renewables to replace the industries we need to phase out. Fourthly, this plan calls for transitioning to broad democratic planning.
[28] Statista
[29] Julian Ambrose, “IEA warns $1.3 trillion of oil and gas could be left stranded,” Telegraph, March 20, 2017.
[30] David Rogers, “POLITICO analysis:  At $2.3 trillion cost, Trump tax cuts leave big gap,” POLITICO, February 28, 2018.
[31] Sources: company financial statements. Utilities: Statista
[32] Ben Protess et al., “Trump administration spares corporate wrongdoers billions in penalties,” New York Times, November 3, 2018.
[33] Firoozeh Dumas, “Why I dread returning to an American public school,” New York Times, November 10, 2018.
[34] Neta C.Crawford, “US Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11Wars through 2019: $5.9 Trillion Spent and Obligated,” Watson Institute: Boston University, November 4, 2018: September2018:  .
[35] Though in truth, any savings here should be paid out in reparations for the hundreds of thousands of people the U.S. military murdered and the countries we’ve wrecked.
[36] Gordon Lubold, “U.S. spent $5.6 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia,” Wall Street Journal,  November 2017
[37] Nick Taylor, American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work (New York: Bantam, 2008). Joseph Maresca, WPA Buildings: Architecture and Art of the New Deal (Atglen, PA: Schiffler Publishing Ltd., 2016).
[38] Marion Clawson, New Deal Planning: The National Resources Planning Board (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981). Jess Gilbert, Planning Democracy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015).
[39] Jenna Iacurci, “Report Calls for Five-year Plan to Save World’s Over-fished Oceans,” Nature World News , June 24, 2014: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/7735/20140624/reportcalls-for-fi....
[40] Damian Carrington, “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds,” Guardian, October 29, 2018.
[41] Richard Smith, “How did the common good become a bad idea? The eco-suicidal economics of Adam Smith,” in idem, Green Capitalism op. cit.
[42] Smith, “Six theses,” op cit.
[43] Yale University, “Americans support limits on CO2,” May 28, 2014: . Bruce Stokes et al./Pew Global, “Public support for action on climate change,” Pew Research Center, November 2015.
[44]Greg Palast, Jerold Oppenheim, and Theo MacGregor, Democracy and Regulation: How the Public can Govern Essential Services (London: Pluto Press, 2003), pp. 1-4.