Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery and the Local Green New Deal.

Author: Gladwyn d'Souza | Category: Business | Career | Economics | Environment | Food | Health | Date: 07-15-2020

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I love a Banh-Mi sandwich. I used to stop by on 4th Street in San Jose just to pick up one on my way to work. So I was thrilled thirty years later to see that Witch Wich Sandwiches near my house in Belmont had a Banh-Mi. I’m going to go get one, I said,  in early March. Then Covid-19 closed down everything and the first business I saw go under was the Banh-Mi place.

Through much of the spring Governor Newsom was the rising star in the Democratic Party. He had shut down the state and saved lives by flattening the curve and his accomplishments were a clear contrast with those of New York Governor Cuomo. But come summer the fortunes have reversed. Early this week was the first day with zero deaths from Covid-19 in New York. Meanwhile deaths in CA remain steady but have not dropped. Newsom is now chided for listening to people who cried for the good old days and demanded reopening. If only he had been a leader like Cuomo and used science to guide his reopening, California could have avoided the crisis it has reentered.

Across the country George Floyd showed vividly that the good old days were not good for large segments of the population. One group got to keep it’s knee on your neck and enact cheap chained work through whips, guns, and the US Constitution. The other barely gets by and gets shot for selling single cigarettes on a street corner or for not having a light on a bicycle, an injustice we are only beginning to see because of the camera on a cellphone. Meanwhile, a large segment of the workforce doesn’t even exist because the people in the group are classified as belonging to the "not-looking-for-work" category. Along with those in the now busted Gig Economy ("contract" workers such as Uber drivers), fully a 1/4 of the work force is now unemployed, many without health insuarance in a pandemic.

The same police also shot water cannons at indigenous Dakota Access Pipeline protestors in the dead of winter last year and set dogs on them--acting in ways that are reminiscent of Bull Connor's good old days. In this horrendous incident, the fossil fuels the police protected over the indigenous water rights of Native Americans threaten to cook the planet. The police also forced workers to go back to the slaughter house without social distancing or masks--thereby, setting the stage for rapid transmission of the virus among workers and between workers and their famlies.

From the food on our table to the way we move around and communicate, a major upgrade is necessary for neighborhoods. These neighborhoods aren’t  just work sites for commuting employees. Instead, families walk over to parks together and adults take breaks to work or relax outdoors. As we rebuild after the closure of local businesses like Witch Wich, we need to rebuild low energy neighborhoods that work for residents today. That means high speed internet available everywhere as a public utility. Many jobs will arise from building greener neighborhoods. And jobs will be created by setting up local manufacturing facilities for making masks, tests kits, and PPEs instead of importing them from China. Governor Newsom should answer this question: how has our reopening proceeded without adequate supplies of testing and PPE where they're needed the most? Producing PPE, masks, and testing kits locally and setting up local labs capable of  analyzing test specimens, so that results are quickly obtained, are essential jobs for the emerging local economy.

Our homes in turn need to be more efficient in how we use energy, water, and waste systems. Efficiencies in all these categories create green local jobs and ensure that we can get off fossil fuels. Decarbonizing the economy is both a function of decreasing demand and changing fuels to renewable sources so as to make the problem manageable. Compost systems in turn can make the neighborhood less dependent on the grocery store as we found out in April during the lockdown. 

Neighborhoods in the path of high fire zones and sea level rise need to be strategically withdrawn and resettled in safer areas like city centers. We see from cities like Singapore and Taipei that these city-centric neighborhoods are safe from all types of crisis including pandemics. There will be a lot more good jobs available-many within walking or biking distance--if people strategically withdraw from crisis regions and resettle in city centers.

As our neighborhoods become more walkable and denser, the surrounding landscape should sequester carbon in green infrastructure that will restore its ecosystem services. That means that the hydrologic cycle needs to be restored over the land so that it is not liable to burn and green infrastructure such as wetlands should be allowed to migrate landward. There are more green jobs that will be generated--for example, work that restores wetlands/baylands.  Once restored,  natural landscapes such as wetlands/baylands and forests will provide ecosystem services to humans by acting as natural buffers to sea level rise; by filtering toxins from water; by sequestering carbon.   And, by providing healthy ecosystems for wildlife, biodiversity will flourish.

To come out of this depression, leaders should follow the example of Cuomo. Like Minneapolis, they need to see the opportunity to fund a new city by defunding the police. Employees should have a say in their own safety and not be penalized economically for keeping their families safe. Maybe when that happens, I’ll be able to take my laptop, pick up a Banh-Mi and go work by a stream where people are trout fishing.

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Ariel L
I agree with Mr. D'Souza in this article. I think that it is a very well written article and the Banh-Mi sandwich really hooked me in. I agree with him saying that Governor Newsom reopened California too soon as we have seen spikes in the amount of people affected with COVID-19. ...Read more Additionally, I agree that after the pandemic we have to adapt by making major upgrades such as building greener neighborhoods. We simply cannot go back to the way things were. I agree that we need to have more green jobs in order to restore our ecosystem and using our resources in a more efficient way. I really enjoyed reading this article and seeing Mr. D'Souza's point of view on different situations Less
Victoria Lin
Great article Mr. D’Souza! I’m glad you talked about how there have been local establishments producing the necessary supplies we need in order to help fight this pandemic, as well as fight the impact corona has had on the working people. I, like many others, also agree that it wasn’t the ...Read more right decision to reopen restaurants and other places when our curve in California hadn’t even flattened yet. Governor Cuomo made a responsible decision that inevitably made some angry, but ultimately kept them safe Less
Zoe Byun
I agree with everything that Mr. D'Souza touched base on in his article. I think that Governor Newsom should definitely see Governor Cuomo as a good example for what California should be doing during this unprecedented time. I also agree that if California have stricter regulations for ...Read more flattening the curve of the virus, it would have been much more efficient and effective. I also believe that most people living in California are also the problem, as many have not been following stay-at-home orders and have not been properly social distancing Less
Colman Yeung
I find this article very sentimental as we can all relate to the problems that COVID has caused. Mr. d'Souza reminds us that at times like these, we need to face reality and look at things scientifically and logically. By comparing the cases in New York and California, we are persuaded to make ...Read more changes at higher expectations. I agree and also would also advocate greatly for a greener neighborhood and for us to be more self-dependent than to rely on other countries for supplies. Our natural landscapes are important and we should be taking steps to rebuild and support biodiversity. It is important that we focus on whats important instead of wasting our resources on things that wouldn't help us after this is over. In conclusion, Mr. D'Souza makes important points that should be widely addressed Less
William Handoko
This article was very insightful to me, it gave new perspectives in a controversial topic I thought I knew a lot on. Mr. d'Souza connected various world issues together to make a compelling and informative article that has shifted my perspectives on how I view our country. Leaders are meant to ...Read more make the best decision for their group, no matter the pressure. Mr. d'Souza gives good evidence that contrasts the difference between governor Newsom and governor Cuomo. Newsom let pressure get to him and decided to take a risk in reopening the state, which backfired. However, Cuomo stayed firm and didn't let "the good old days" influence his decision to reopen businesses. I agree that to execute a green new deal properly, you need a competent leader alongside, for potent effects. While everyone keeps raving on about a new deal, it means nothing if we can't get a leader who will act upon those promises Less
Kardon Lam
I found this article interesting and I enjoyed reading it. Mr. d'Souza made some important points throughout the article that I agree with. We need to have leaders who have the solutions to our problems during and after the pandemic. Pointing out the fact that other countries are dealing with ...Read more the virus is significant because it shows that we can do better. Many are too focused on the wrong things; we need to focus on how to adapt to life after this is over, we need leaders who can help us prepare for the future. I also agree with the environmental aspect of the article. I believe that creating greener neighborhoods will definitely create more jobs. This article was insightful. Less
Cedric Chan
Personally, in the beginning I found the article slightly confusing, as Mr. d'Souza switches from many topics very quickly, however as I read, I appreciated how Mr. d'Souza was able to connect these many topics into a single problem that he addressed that we need to fix. I think the ideas ...Read more proposed by Mr. d'Souza were very intelligent and necessary, such as his point of having a leader such as Governor Cuomo leading the country based on science and facts, as well as his suggestion of making our homes more environmentally conscious and efficient as well as his proposal to reshape our neighborhoods. However, I do feel as if this article tries to cover too many topics at once and cannot sufficiently explain one topic, but I did enjoy reading the work of Mr. d'Souz Less
Tommy Zeng
I don't think there is enough agency from people in regard to the pandemic. People don't put enough emphasis on what to do after the pandemic, living in the now and not thinking about the future. AS Mr. d'Souza said, there must be major changes made in order for people to adapt to the ...Read more new life style after the pandemic is over. Less
Ben Seo
I definitely agree with D'Souza that the Governer Newsom did not make the right decision when choosing whether to reopen or not. It is obvious that he is not focusing on the right thing because ultimately, Governer Newsom thinks that it is more important to make money rather than protect his ...Read more citizens. I think that this pandemic is the start of a new era. So much has changed and many people are talking about the "new normal". I can definitely agree that our neighborhoods are something that needs great reforms. Especially in lower-income neighborhoods, where the streets aren't exactly the safest place in the world. The atmosphere and environment play a big role in how kids grow up. Kids who lived in a safe neighborhood are very different compared to kids who grew up in a dangerous neighborhood. It is time to close this gap and to create an equal ground where kids can grow up without fear. I also agree that we need to make our homes and communities more green. However, I am not too sure why compost systems help neighborhoods become less dependent on their grocery stores. Also, I do find some flaws in creating a more dense neighborhood. Although it will have its benefits, if another virus started to spread, wouldn't the rate that it will spread greatly increase? I am not too sure if the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks, but I do believe that it is time for America to change for the better. Less
Leo Lin
I agree with Mr. d'Souza's point. While these problems existed before the Covid lockdown, it has not been brought to public attention so it has just been sitting there and growing. But, as we became more aware of these problems, we should also make an upgrade and solve these problems. ...Read more Some of the solutions he had already thought of, like moving people from the crisis areas to the city. But, that might cause some trouble as people might not want to move away and restart their lives again in a different place. I also agree with Mr. d'Souza's point that we need to restore natural habitats as these areas can be not only make the world cleaner, but also help the ecosystem by making populations of local species rise up. Overall, Mr. d'Souza addresses very important points that arise from the coronavirus and potential ways to fix them Less

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