The Hightower Report
How About a Real Democratic Stimulus; and Google
HOW ABOUT A REAL DEMOCRATIC STIMULUS?
Once again, our timid Democratic leadership in Congress is fumbling a political opportunity and bumbling its public responsibility.
The Democrats running Congress were as startled as Bush's White House to discover the economy is not fundamentally sound, as the Powers That Be have kept insisting. The crunch on the middle class and low-income working families has long been severe. Yet, comforted by numbers showing overall economic growth, obtuse congressional Democrats did nothing about the fact that the benefits of those gains gushed to the richest families, while wages were held low, consumer prices skyrocketed, and family debt surged.
Now that all of this has led to a very real economic crumbling that even affects Wall Street, Democrats are scrambling to look like they're doing something, including meekly going along with Bush to provide more corporate tax cuts that will do zero to stimulate recovery. Where's their "little" democratic impulse? Where's their instinct to rally the workaday majority in a national effort to rebuild our economy from the grassroots up? Where's the can-do spirit of FDR? A little boldness would excite people!
Oh, they say, we don't have the time to come up with a plan for something like that. Wrong. Now is precisely the time to offer people not only short-term help but also long-term vision. Indeed, a solid plan already exists. The Apollo Alliance is a grassroots coalition with a comprehensive proposal that would create millions of good-paying green jobs – including launching a 10-year crash program to retrofit all of America's buildings for energy conservation and to take other readily available steps to end our country's dependence on fossil fuels.
Come on, Democrats – be Democrats! To learn more about the Apollo vision, go to www.apolloalliance.org.
Corporate idealism is practically an oxymoron in this era, with big investors considering the bottom line to be the only line and demanding a constant flow of ever-higher profits. On the rare occasion when the flower of idealism does bloom within the corporate ranks, you can bet that Wall Street's investment barons will rush forth and try to stomp it to death.
This is why a new initiative by Google Inc. is so important – not only on the merits of what the company executives are attempting but also to show that idealism can and should be central to the corporate mission, even adding to the all-holy bottom line.
Google honchos, alarmed by the rising cost of energy and appalled by the environmental and human costs of our continuing reliance on fossil fuels, have announced a major corporate investment in clean energy. They plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to hire engineers and other experts to develop solar, wind, geothermal, and other renewable-energy sources. The Internet giant's goal is not merely to generate clean, cheap renewables for itself but to advance the whole alternative energy industry so it can produce massive amounts for all. It's a goal the company believes can be achieved in years rather than decades.
Good for them! However, Wall Street is aghast that Google is pursuing such an idealistic goal rather than just using those millions to fatten its short-term stock price. As one market analyst grumped, "My first reaction when I read about this was, 'Is this a joke?'"
No, you're the joke. The idea that a few corporate executives would dare look beyond their own bottom lines ought to be cheered, not jeered. And while Google's investment won't produce a short-term profit, it can help expand a socially beneficial green industry – and that's ultimately good for Google ... and even for all businesses.