For more information about this campaign in the Illinois 5th District, which has been endorsed by the Illinois Berniecrats:
Hyperventilating appeals for money are something I hate, and something I promised myself I would not do in my campaign, but if you can donate to the campaign, I would be most grateful:
I will be speaking at the College of Complexes on January 13th at 6:00pm. The College meets at Dappers East Restaurant, 2901 W. Addison (3600 north, one block west of California). There is free parking. $3 Tuition, dinner optional, all meetings open to the public
A Marshall Plan for America
It is high time for a Marshall Plan for America. We helped rebuild Western Europe after WWII and we can help rebuild ourselves. Our roads, our bridges, our railways, our airports, our water systems, our electrical grid—all are in need of investment. And the world is in need of our decarbonizing our economy. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, real federal infrastructure spending from 1940 to 2017 (in 2017 dollars) averaged about $102 billion per year over those decades and we are spending more than that currently. But as a percentage of GDP, we are currently spending less than 1%—a far cry from the nearly 3% that the New Deal reached, or even the 2% that came in the 1970s when the federal government supported new water resource projects alongside a continued highway build out. Relative to the size of our economy today, a New Deal level commitment would involve a peak of as much as $600 billion in a year and then average more than $200 billion per year for a decade. And that is what we need to do. Deferred maintenance is no longer an option.

Consider our shipping locks, for example, if we have a barge stopped on the Upper Mississippi because there is a problem with the locks what happens? Commodities just sit there until the problem is fixed. There are no detours, there’s no way to do anything but wait. And waiting costs a lot of money. If we can decrease the tremendous delays in our economy that are caused by poor infrastructure we can increase our productivity and with it the growth of our economy. Nearly eighty percent of lock sites with commercial traffic had an unexpected breakdown in 2016 according to one Wall Street Journal story . Half of these shipping locks are older than their intended fifty-year lifespan. According to the Journal’s analysis of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data, the average delay caused by difficulties with the locks increased from 54 minutes in 1993 to 144 minutes in 2016. Our waterways carry about 14% of the nation’s freight and do so more efficiently, and with a smaller carbon footprint, than any other method of transport. Yet we are moving in exactly the wrong direction because of our failure to invest: “The tonnage of commodities shipped through locks, excluding coal, fell nearly 13% between 2002 and 2015 to 1.7 billion tons. By contrast, the combined shipments of goods via truck and rail, excluding coal, grew by 3.1% to more than 11.8 billion tons.”
When it comes to “decarbonizing” our economy, California is leading the way. According to a report released in November, “the state will get half of its electricity from renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, very soon—by 2020, to be exact, a full decade ahead of schedule.” The commitment that California has made needs to be adopted, and intensified, by the nation as a whole. As renewables come on line, we need to phase out all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and then begin to impose new taxes on that industry to discourage its existence. Because of California’s commitment, the price of solar energy in the state dropped by 77 percent between 2010 and 2016, from $127.55 per megawatt-hour to $29.17 per megawatt-hour. Similarly, the price of wind dropped by 47 percent in the same time period. “We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil—oil and gas, to a lesser extent, coal,” California’s Governor Jerry Brown said back in 2015: “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

Beyond the impact that massive infrastructure investment will have on the nation’s productivity and—through increased productivity—on future economic growth, such investment will help to generate millions of jobs, including in new fields such as wind turbine service and photovoltaic installation. Already in 2012, there were 14.2 million workers employed in infrastructure jobs—11% of national employment. And, as the Brookings Institute notes in another report : “More than 80 percent of workers employed in infrastructure occupations typically have short- to long- term on-the-job training, but only 12 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and generally need less education to qualify for these jobs.” These are jobs, moreover, that pay well on average.  

The question is not whether we can afford this investment. It can be financed in a variety of ways and by a mix of taxes and borrowing. Personally, I favor a massive issue of “rebuild America” bonds. However massive infrastructure investment is financed, it must be done. The tax of doing nothing—the tax of deferred maintenance—would be far higher and further contribute to a downward economic spiral. It is time to get out of a vicious cycle and into a virtuous circle. 

Announcing the Marshall Plan, in a speech at Harvard in 1947, George C. Marshall declared that “Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.” In the world today, as in the world of the immediate postwar period, democracy is being threatened by dictators and would be dictators. If we are to avoid the dangers that now confront us, as a people and as a world, we must rediscover the most progressive ideals of America’s founding generation and build on the work of the many generations that have since sought to see those ideals more fully realized. The generation that formulated and implemented the first Marshall Plan was more compassionate and generous than our own. They were seeking not only to save themselves, but—by saving Europe—to help save the world, including the United States. We should, however, realize that it will be very hard for democracy to survive and flourish in the world if it dies in the United States. We are not just in this for ourselves. By rebuilding our infrastructure and decarbonizing our economy, we can contribute to the future that we share with others as well as to our own well-being.