Economist Galbraith Tells Democrats To Dump ‘Green,’ Go for the New Deal
Sept. 21, 2020 (EIRNS)—Economist James Galbraith was on The Intercept’s “Deconstructed” podcast, Sept. 17, and effectively schooled the Democrats in some physical economics. Without mentioning the word “green” for an entire 30 minutes, Galbraith strongly emphasized the need for a return to the Franklin D. Roosevelt New Deal. Short of Lyndon LaRouche, Galbraith’s words—which President Donald Trump would also do well to heed—are the clearest insight into the depth of the crisis we are facing.
Introduced by co-host Ryan Grim as the man who warned Democrats that their 2009 “stimulus” program was too weak to be effective, Galbraith was also described as “really clear-eyed but also not horribly politically biased.” Notably, economist’s first insights were to describe the “psychological impact” of the pandemic-induced collapse, or in Roosevelt’s words, “fear.” “People are uncertain of their future, their own jobs—they’ve either ended or they might end pretty soon. They’re facing cutbacks, even if they’re in relatively stable sectors like state and local government,” he said Add the threat of impending evictions and bankruptcies, and it all amounts to “an enormous retrenchment,” he said, only partly due to the health situation, but also because “people are uncertain of their economic futures—and rightly so.”
Galbraith said there would definitely be no “return to normal.” After first posing the uselessness of the service economy, where, “your job depends on my having an income and therefore me having a job,” he counterposed the example of the aircraft manufacturing sector, “which has been completely idled”—“whole sector needs to be reorganized and mobilized to do things that we actually need doing.” In sector after sector, this thinking applies, and although it only makes the job bigger and more significant, “There’s always work to do,” as he optimistically put it.
All this led the host to reflect that these ideas—the jobs guarantee, rebuilding domestic manufacturing, basically inventing a new economy and putting people to work there—“sound a lot like the New Deal,” to which Galbraith quickly responded, “They do to me, too!”
“But the New Deal is the right example. And it wasn’t that Roosevelt simply revived the pre-existing economy of the 1920s or the early 1930s. No! They set out to change, fundamentally, the nature of American agriculture, to provide economic development through the American South, and electricity—it had never been there before—and to rebuild the entire, what we now call, infrastructure of the country: the roads, the bridges, the airfields, the schools, the courthouses, university buildings, it’s all over the country, the legacy of the New Deal. And this was imagined at the time. And that strikes me as fundamentally the mindset we need to have in dealing with the aftermath of this, because we’re not going to get back. Whatever one thinks about the economy that existed, and that developed over the last 40 years and it took a mature form in the last dozen years: We’re not going to get it back. It’s not coming back in that form.”
Galbraith has a forthcoming article on this topic for The Intercept, likely this week.