Archive for January, 2013

Benchmarks to Test Gov. Christie’s Sandy Rebuild Plan Today

January 24th, 2013 No comments

Benchmarks to Evaluate the Governor’s Plan

According to today’s Bergen Record, Governor Christie will announce his post Sandy Rebuild standards and going forward plan today:  Christie to announce rebuilding standards in Seaside Heights.

He said on his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio show Wednesday night that he expected to release the state’s new rebuilding standards by the end of the week. Those standards, setting requirements for structures rebuilt after superstorm Sandy, are intended to give homeowners greater certainty when deciding whether or how to rebuild. New federal requirements will not be released for another 18 to 24 months, Christie said.

At his 100th town hall-style event in Stafford last week, he said he was crafting the new regulations himself.

“My goal is to try to give you the most aggressive protective standards I can give you,” he said in Stafford. “If they decide to lower them later on, then you’ll benefit from that in your flood insurance premiums because you’ll be built to a higher standard, the federal standard will be a little bit lower and then your flood insurance premiums will go down.”

He said he doesn’t want people rebuilding based on old standards because as the flood maps change, insurance premiums would go up.

So, in advance of those standards, I thought I’d lay out a few benchmarks to evaluate them:

I)  Climate change – Sea Level Rise, Storm Surge, Vulnerability/Adaptation – Need to Update State Flood Hazard Maps, both inland and Coastal

The Governor must acknowledge that climate change is real, man made, and played a role in Sandy (see: Critics: Christie Deep-Sixed Climate Change Prep).

According to Georgetown University Climate Center, NJ is the only northeastern state without a climate change adaptation plan – a serious deficiency noted in a recent federal Report:

Of the 12 states in the Northeast, 11 have developed adaptation plans for several sectors and have released, or plan to release, statewide adaptation plans (Georgetown Climate Center 2012). 

Will the press ask Gov. Christie about that??

FEMA’s recently proposed flood maps do not account for Sandy elevations or climate change impacts of sea level rise, storm surge, and increasing storm severity . Therefore, the Governor’s rebuild elevations and locations must consider these factors (see:  NEW JERSEY YET TO COME TO GRIPS WITH POST-SANDY FLOOD RISKS – Coastal Maps Do Not Account for Climate Change Effects; Inland Maps Decades Old

The Governor must pledge to take concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate the transition to renewable power, and require vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning across state and local government. See:

II) Bans on Rebuilding in High Hazard Areas – Acquisition and “Strategic Retreat”

Rebuilding in certain low lying locations that were inundated by Sandy or otherwise certain to be washed out again must be restricted, if only to avoid repeat claims. A policy of gradual “strategic retreat” must be acknowledged as the way forward, not rebuild the mistakes of the past.

DEP’s 309 Coastal Hazard Assessment Reports have long explicitly recognized  that “strategic retreat” policy option- a finding and a policy that has changed under Gov. Christie – the most recent 309 Report excluded the “strategic retreat” concept. Here are the prior DEP findings that have been eliminated:

Titus demonstrates (link) that in certain instances, structural engineering solutions will not be practical or economically feasible. In these cases future public and private development and redevelopment must be directed away from the hazardous areas. While some derogatorily refer to this option as “retreat,” from the perspective of sound planning based on the best available science, the concept actually involves “strategic adjustment.” Prudent planning requires that we expand upon the existing studies of the societal, economic, and environmental costs of possible mitigative actions while the greatest number of alternatives exist.

[Read full 2006 DEP 309 Report]

III) Proposal to Eliminate the Right to Rebuild and Close CAFRA Loopholes

Current state law provides a right to rebuild and numerous loopholes, including CAFRA 24 unit jurisdiction. The Gov. must announce a legislative initiative to repeal the right to rebuild and reform these flawed laws in light of new science and Sandy experience.

IV) Former DEP Commissioner Mauriello Recommendations

Former DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello, a 30+ year coastal expert, announced a series of rebuild recommendations. See this for details: A Path Forward on the Shore

V)  President Obama Executive Order Policies

President Obama issued an Executive Order creating a Sandy rebuild Task Force and a set of policies to guide national reform efforts. See this for details:  Obama Executive Order on Sandy Provides Sharp Contrast With NJ Gov. Christie’s Response

VI) Governor Cuomo’s Policies and Programs

NY Governor Cuomo recently announced a set of state initiatives in his State of the State address. See this for details:  Stunning Contrast Between NY Gov. Cuomo and Christie State of State Addresses

VII) State Regulatory Teeth – No Reliance on Home Rule and Local Control

The Governor and DEP Commissioner Martin have said – numerous times – that rebuilding decisions must be made by private individuals, market forces, and local government policies. Both have denied a strong state role and DEP has deregulated both rebuilding of both public infrastructure and private development. Those policies and comments must be walked back.

Rebuilding must be guided by State regulatory mandates.

The DEP has outsourced adaptation planning to a private group and made the ssue a voluntary incentive based policy. DEP’s most recent 309 Assessment Report noted:

Climate change planning and adaptation strategies

Since the last assessment, the Coastal Management Office has dedicated 309 funding to the development of ‘Getting to Resilience,’ a questionnaire to help local decision makers identify ways to decrease their vulnerability and improve their resilience to coastal hazards and/or sea level rise through planning, municipal codes, and emergency preparedness and response. By working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Climate and Energy and statewide partners, the New Jersey Coastal Management Office is presently working to incorporate the questionnaire as an action item within Sustainable JerseyTM, which is a certification and incentive program developed by a collaborative effort of state, academic, and non-profit groups to promote sustainable community initiatives. Sustainable JerseyTM provides communities with mandatory actions to improve their long-term sustainability, in addition to allowing them the flexibility to improve their longevity and character through changes in municipal planning, regulations, and creative grassroots initiatives. By participating in Sustainable JerseyTM, municipalities receive a comprehensive package of tools, guidance materials, training, and financial incentives. Launched in 2009, nearly fifty coastal communities are currently participating in the program.

VIII) Financial Resources

The Gov. must open the doors on how federal and state rebuild money will be spent.

IX) Transparent Planning Process, not “Rebuild Czar”

The Gov. must provide a transparent and participatory planning process for making decisions that will affect the land use pattern and future of the shore.

The Governor’s “Rebuild Czar” lacks transparency, participation, and accountability – he must not be allowed to completely control decsion-making and policy (see:  NJ Gov. Christie Slams Door Shut on Coastal and Climate Change Reforms In Wake of Sandy – Appoints Corporate Crony As Czar to Oversee Redevelopment

X) Natural dunes and coastal processes – not engineering –  must be basis of planning and a top priority

The Governor has made numerous highly misleading statements alleging that “engineered” beaches protected coastal development.

The Gov. must distinguish the functions of natural dunes from beach replenishment.

Any rebuild plan must be based upon and “Design with Nature” see:  A Dirge To McHarg and Mumford – Who Are Rolling Over in Their Graves

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Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review

January 23rd, 2013 No comments

Hurricane Irene brought a broad swath of very heavy rain (greater than five inches in total and 2 to 3 inches per hour in some locations), producing severe flooding from southern Maryland to northern Vermont from August 27 to 29, 2011. Satellite image shows Irene over the Northeast on August 28, 2012. The storm also took approximately 50 lives, and the economic cost was estimated to be approximately $15 8 billion (Avila and Cangliosi 2011; Avila and Stewart 2012). (Source: NASA Satellite Image)



  • Hurricanes such as Irene and Sandy provided a “teachable moment” by demonstrating the  region’s vulnerability to extreme weather events and the efficacy of existing and evolving adaptation/response plans. ~~~ Northeast Assessment, Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report – January 2013
  • The “Frankenstorm” should be a teachable moment to show how “extreme weather” and lax regulations of greenhouse gas emissions and coastal over-development have put thousands of people and billions of dollars of property in harms way. … The storm should be a clarion call for finally addressing the rising global warming crisis. (Bill Wolfe, 10/26/12)


The Federal Advisory Commitee released a Draft Climate Assessment Report for public comment (the comment period closes April 12, 2013))

Here is a link to the webpage, which includes the Full Report (huge file).

Here is the Executive Summary and Here is the Northeast States. I excerpted some NJ stuff below:

Projected average increases in the number of days with a maximum temperature greater than 95°F between 2041-2070, compared to 1971-2000 assuming continued increases in global emissions (A2 scenario). (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC. Data from CMIP3 Daily Multi-model Mean.)

Much of the southern portion of the region, including the majority of Maryland, and Delaware, and southwest West Virginia and New Jersey, are projected to experience more than 15  additional days per year above 95°F, which will impact the regions vulnerable populations infrastructure, and agriculture and ecosystems.
Key Messages
  • Heat waves, coastal flooding due to sea level rise, and river flooding due to more extreme precipitation events will pose a growing challenge to the region’s environmental, social, and economic systems. This will increase the vulnerability of the region’s residents, especially populations that are already most disadvantaged.
  • Infrastructure will be increasingly compromised by climate-related hazards including sea level rise and coastal flooding, and intense precipitation events.
  • Agriculture and ecosystems will be increasingly stressed by climate-related hazards, including higher temperatures, sea level rise and coastal flooding, and more extreme precipitation events. A longer growing season may allow farmers to explore new crop options, but this and other adaptations will not be cost or risk-free, and inequities exist in the capacity for adaptation.
  • While a majority of states and several municipalities have begun to incorporate the risk of climate change into their planning activities, implementation of adaptation measures is still at early stages.
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Sebago at Harriman State Park

January 23rd, 2013 No comments

Contact Info – hit links (open water and no snow, in later January, is unusual. Photos shot on: 1/20/13)

Sebago Cabin Camp

Harriman State Park

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Can Obama Deliver on Climate Change Rhetoric?

January 22nd, 2013 9 comments

Skepticism is Justified – Activists Must Ramp Up Demands

Focus on EPA Regulatory Strategy Ironic, Coming Just After Jackson Departure

Does Obama Even Know the Weak EPA Regulatory Hand He’s Dealt Himself?

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. ~~~ President Obama

Stressing scientific consensus and a moral imperative to act, President Obama made responding to climate change the most prominent policy issue in his second Inaugural address (see: NY Times story: Speech Gives Climate Goals Center Stage).

Before I get to the issues and wonk stuff, let me make one observation about media. As one hopeful indication that perhaps the political climate in the media has really changed, for once, the NY Times correctly contextualized a denier source:

The president’s emphasis on climate change drew fire from conservatives. Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a group financed by the Koch brothers, who made a fortune in refining and other oil interests, criticized the speech in a statement. “His address read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top,” Mr. Phillips said. “Americans have rejected environmental extremism in the past and they will again.”

Let’s repeat that: Made a fortune in oil! Wow! The Grey Lady calls out the capitalist billionaire Koch Brothers, AFP and deniers everywhere!

On to the issues –

The major environmental groups correctly praised the President, but I was struck by their sudden recognition about the need to regulate existing power plants and how that issue has become the focal point of the news coverage.

 Guardian story:

The BlueGreen Alliance, while praising Obama for elevating the topic, also called on Obama to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate existing power plants.

The NY Times story:

According to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, emissions from current coal-fired plants could be reduced by more than 25 percent by 2020, yielding large health and environmental benefits at relatively low cost. Such an approach would allow Mr. Obama to fulfill his 2009 pledge to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the group says.

“There’s a really big opportunity, perhaps bigger than most people realize,” said Dan Lashof, director of the defense council’s climate and clean air program.

The failure of EPA to regulate existing oil and coal power plants (and other major sources, like refineries and cement plants) – and in fact, essentially delegate the regulation of those plants to States under the Clean Air Act – was a huge strategic blunder by Lisa Jackson’s EPA. EPA found:

  • States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions. They have longstanding experience working together with industrial facilities under their jurisdiction to process PSD permit applications. EPA intends to delegate the authority to issue GHG permits to states if requested. EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as we work together to make the various required permitting decisions for GHG emissions.

Yet, somehow, EPA’s failure to regulate existing plants just never seemed to interfere with the glowing praise beltway environmental groups heaped on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for the last 4 years.

[Note: On March 27, 2012, on a national press call with reporters announcing EPA’s proposed rule for new power plants, I personally heard EPA Administrator Lisa Jacskon say this not once, but 3 times: “EPA Has No Plans to Regulate Carbon From Existing Coal Plants”. That is a direct quote.]

On top of that failure, Obama’s energy policy has called for maximization of domestic fossil sources, so even if US coal power is eliminated, US coal exports will continue to generate huge GHG emissions, as will off shore oil and gas and so called “clean” fracking gas, which all are being produced at record levels, a fact that Obama bragged about. And then there is the huge missed opportunity to stop mountaintop mining…

I’ve been writing critically about that (see this and this and this and this and this and this) and getting nothing but hostility from my enviro colleagues (friends of Lisa) and ignored by the press, who wrote so many glowing articles about Lisa Jackson’s accomplishments on regulating greenhouse gas emissions (see: Setting the Record Straight on Lisa Jackson and Climate Change).

The Obama focus on climate change and EPA regulatory action is also deeply ironic in light of the Jackson departure, given how conventional beltway wisdom (misplaced, I argued), saw Jackson as a regulatory zealot. Obama’s emphasis also calls into serious question the spin that Jackson resigned from EPA in protest over Obama’s plans to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

For Obama to approve what has been called “game over for the climate” by the world’s leading climate scientist in light of his Inaugural remarks would be beyond even beltway cynicism (i.e. Obama wouldn’t “betray our children and future generations”, would he? But, as the only Nobel Peace Prize winner with a Kill List – who expanded illegal drone wars in multiple countries and locked in Bush’s rendition, Guantanamo, and domestic spying policies – just maybe he would.).

But curiously, after 4 years of silence, now, lack of regulation of all those existing GHG emission sources has become the centerpiece of the enviro and media demands for Obama’s second term EPA. Are we to call this a “strategic pivot”?

Do environmentalists understand that EPA’s prior “common sense” “flexible” regulatory strategy under the Clean Air Act:

  • On February 24, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to keep greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting thresholds at current levels. This action is part of EPA’s common-sense, phased-in approach to greenhouse gas permitting under the Clean Air Act.

(where have we heard that “common  sense” slogan before?)

which the enviro’s so strongly praised – will make it virtually impossible for EPA to regulate GHG emissions from existing sources?

The weak kneed approach to what EPA views as the “cooperative federalism” under the Clean Air Act is made clear in EPA’s “Best Available Control Technology” (BACT) Guidance document for new sources of GHG emissions (@ p. 19):

EPA has not established the top-down BACT process as a binding requirement through rule.43 Thus, [state] permitting authorities that implement an EPA-approved PSD permitting program contained in their State Implementation Plans (SIPs) may use another process for determining BACT in permits they issue, including BACT for GHGs, so long as that process (and each BACT determination made through that process) complies with the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements.44 EPA does not require states to apply the top-down process in order to obtain EPA approval of a PSD program, but EPA regulations do require that each state program apply the applicable criteria in the definition of BACT.45 Furthermore, EPA has certain oversight responsibilities with respect to the issuance of PSD permits under state permitting programs. In that capacity, EPA does not seek to substitute its judgment for state permitting authorities in BACT determinations, but EPA does seek to ensure that individual BACT determinations by states with approved programs are reasoned and faithful to the requirements of the CAA and the approved state program regulations.46

… This guidance (including the appendices) provides some preliminary EPA views on some key issues that may arise in a BACT analysis for GHGs. It is important to recognize that this document does not provide any final determination of BACT for a particular source, since such determinations can only be made by individual permitting authorities on a case-by-case basis after consideration of the record in each case.  

Do you think highly coal dependent states – like Ohio and Pennsylvania – absent a big federal EPA stick, will voluntarily strictly regulate and phase out coal power?

Without getting even further into the regulatory weeds here, essentially, EPA has applied the Clean Air Act in a way that gives State air pollution programs control over whether and how to regulate existing GHG emission sources via the terms set out in State Implementation Plans (SIP’s) and air permit programs. The substantive content of SIP’s and permit programs are controlled by States, not EPA.

At the same time, compounding this deference to the states, EPA has limited its federal role and regulatory power in the “Tailoring Rule” and the “New Source Review” (NSR) programs under the Clean Air Act.

There are numerous loopholes and exemptions in these programs with respect to GHG emissions from existing sources, e.g. the EPA  “Tailoring rule’s” scope and thresholds exempt many existing facilities and GHG emissions. Few realize that the Tailoring rule was actually intend to PROTECT existing sources and shield the from EPA regulation (@p. 31516):

This Tailoring Rulemaking is necessary because without it, PSD and title V would apply to all stationary sources that emit or have the potential to emit more than 100 or 250 tons of GHGs per year beginning on January 2, 2011.  

Evidencing additional flaws, the EPA GHG NSR program only applies to new sources and major modifications of existing sources, replicating for GHG emissions a fundamental flaw in the original Clean Air Act.

That regulatory strategy will make it very difficult – if not impossible – for EPA to effectively regulate emissions from those major sources of GHG emissions, approximately 500 oil and coal fired power plants, refineries, and cement manufacturers.

Given the regulatory strategy EPA has adopted, any new EPA GHG regulation of existing sources is certain to trigger lawsuits by industry, leading to additional years of delay as those suits proceed through the federal courts.

Sorry to rain on the Inaugural parade rhetoric, but the actual ability for EPA to deliver in regulation on Obama’s soaring rhetoric is limited – and tragically – many of the limitations are a result of weak kneed Obama/Jackson strategic decisions made in the first term.

It will be very difficult for the next EPA Adminsitrator to walk all that back at this point.

Is Obama even aware of the weak EPA regulatory hand he’s dealt himself by political decisions made in the first term?

If he does, how could he raise expectations so high by  that soaring Inaugural rhetoric?

[Update: In response to a good question on BACT, let me note that EPA’s approach to BACT is politically timid and technically weak. EPA rejected any options that would force coal plants to shut down, switch fuel to natural gas, or make major investments in reducing eery demand and investing in producing alternative renewable power in the service area of the facility – those stronger options were rejected due to cost  or because they would risk “reliability” or “domestic energy security” (see response in questions). Here are some lowlights fro the EPA BACT Guidance:

As discussed in greater detail below, EPA believes that it is important in BACT reviews for permitting authorities to consider options that improve the overall energy efficiency of the source or modification – through technologies, processes and practices at the emitting unit.

[… ]

As explained later in this guidance, in the course of the BACT analysis, one or more of the available options may be eliminated from consideration because they are demonstrated to be technically infeasible or have unacceptable energy, economic, and environmental impacts on a case- and fact-specific basis. 


The CAA includes “clean fuels” in the definition of BACT.75 Thus, clean fuels which would reduce GHG emissions should be considered, but EPA has recognized that the initial list of control options for a BACT analysis does not need to include “clean fuel” options that would fundamentally redefine the source. Such options include those that would require a permit applicant to switch to a primary fuel type (i.e., coal, natural gas, or biomass) other than the type of fuel that an applicant proposes to use for its primary combustion process.


EPA believes that integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) should also be listed for consideration when it is more efficient than the proposed technology.83 However, these options may be evaluated under the redefining the source framework described above and excluded from consideration at Step 1 of a top-down analysis on a case-by-case basis if it can be shown that application of such a control strategy would disrupt the applicant’s basic or fundamental business purpose for the proposed facility.


For the purposes of a BACT analysis for GHGs, EPA classifies CCS as an add-on pollution control technology86 that is “available”87 for facilities emitting CO2 in large amounts, including fossil fuel-fired power plants, and for industrial facilities with high-purity CO2 streams (e.g., hydrogen production, ammonia production, natural gas processing, ethanol production, ethylene oxide production, cement production, and iron and steel manufacturing). For these types of facilities, CCS should be listed in Step 1 of a top-down BACT analysis for GHGs. This does not necessarily mean CCS should be selected as BACT for such sources. Many other case- specific factors, such as the technical feasibility and cost of CCS technology for the specific application, size of the facility, proposed location of the source, and availability and access to transportation and storage opportunities,should be assessed at later steps of a top-down BACT analysis. However, for these types of facilities and particularly for new facilities, CCS is an  option that merits initial consideration and, if the permitting authority eliminates this option at some later point in the top-down BACT process, the grounds for doing so should be reflected in the record with an appropriate level of detail. 


Under the second step of the top-down BACT analysis, an available control technique listed in Step 1 may be eliminated from further consideration if it is not technically feasible for the specific source under review. A demonstration of technical infeasibility should be clearly documented and should show, based on physical, chemical, or engineering principles, that technical difficulties would preclude the successful use of the control option on the emissions unit under review….

This guidance is being issued at a time when add-on control technologies for certain GHGs or emissions sources may be limited in number and in various stages of development and commercialization. A number of ongoing research, development, and demonstration programs may make CCS technologies more widely applicable in the future.91 These facts are important to BACT Step 2, wherein technically infeasible control options are eliminated from further consideration. When considering the guidance provided below, permitting authorities should be aware of the changing status of various control options for GHG emissions when determining BACT. …

While CCS is a promising technology, EPA does not believe that at this time CCS will be a technically feasible BACT option in certain cases. As noted above, to establish that an option is technically infeasible, the permitting record should show that an available control option has neither been demonstrated in practice nor is available and applicable to the source type under review.

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“A Revolution Of Values”

January 21st, 2013 No comments

Riverside Church (NYC)

Dr. King’s Economic Justice and Anti-Imperialism Views Whitewashed

This is a repost – from January 17, 2011 (with a closing note and link to new essay from the Black Agenda Report – Don’t You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama)

Every year, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I read what is perhaps King’s most important and timeless speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence” (delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church, NYC, exactly one year to the day before his assassination in Memphis).

Many think that this speech – as part of King’s expanding mission from civil rights to human rights, based on Economic and Social Justice, and culminating in the Poor People’s Campaign,  which integrated critiques and social protest movements against poverty, racism, and war – is what led to his assassination.

Today’s media and timid politicians have whitewashed King’s legacy , limiting focus to politically safe and feel good excerpts from his  ”I Have a Dream” speech. But King was far more progressive. For example, you won’t hear these lines from “Beyond Vietnam” on the TeeVee news (my favorite):

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The irony of the 2009 Peace Prize winner in the White House expanding unjust wars of aggression in at least three countries is not lost on history.

[Closing noteKing’s 1967 speech to the SCLC annual convention: “Where do we go from here” :(bold is mine)

“Now we must develop progress, or rather, a program—and I can’t stay on this long—that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income. Now, early in the century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s abilities and talents. And in the thinking of that day, the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed, I hope, from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.

The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available. In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty:

The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves driven to their tasks either by the, that of a taskmaster or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished.”

Work of this sort could be enormously increased, and we are likely to find that the problem of housing, education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor, transformed into purchasers, will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle. […]

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where do we go from here?” that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. (Yes) There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. (Yes) And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. (Yes) But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. (All right) It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” (Yes) You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” (Yes) You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?” (All right) These are words that must be said. (All right)


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