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$100 billion/year: tax cuts for 1% or solutions for all?

November 19th, 2010 · No Comments

Yes we can

Sadly, no we haven’t. Not that the Obama Administration with the support (and urging) of a Democratic House of Representatives and the drag of a Democratic controlled (???) Senate hadn’t tried to do tremendous things. Note that, for the most part, President Obama has filled the Administration with competent — incredibly competent –, dedicated, and ethical people who are interested in working diligently to solve real problems.

Sadly, since the 2008 election, no we haven’t had the true simplicity and clarity of message that “Yes we can” … “Hope” … “Change” all represented in 2008.

As Chip and Dan Heath put it in Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, the ability of a message to work relies on SUCCESs: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. Get it right on these six and you are (far) more likely to have SUCCESs in having people hear, absorb, and retain your message.

With some better graphics support, perhaps some (marginal) shifting of the exact examples, and the following would have made the Democratic brand a SUCCESs in the November 2010 elections.

A very simple question:

Hermes bags for the richest 1% or 3 million Americans employed?

A pretty reasonable question, don’t you think?

And one that fills the criteria for message stickiness SUCCESs.


Imagine if that question had occurred prior to the elections. With better graphics. With a Congressional vote with Democratic members of Congress aligned against Republicans (and, well, some Blue Dog Democrats) in voting as to whether to provide tax cuts to the middle and upper middle class but to, rather than extend Bush Tax Increases on the Unborn use to subsidy the wealthiest among us, use those resources to put Americans to work.

Imagine.

What do you think would have occurred?

Moving beyond stickiness to details?

Of course we can (and should) loosen that gluey stickiness a bit by filling in the gaps and creating better understanding.

For example, do you realize that those averaging $1.4 million wouldn’t lose out on $83,000 per year if this were the path forward. A rising tide lifts all boats is one of those ‘sticky’ messages in part because there are some fundamental realities to it. In this case, those 3 million additional employed would create economic activity from which, oops, the wealthiest among us (U.S.) would also benefit and do better than the average America in terms of ‘return on investment’ and in gains from the rising tide.

And so on …

Now for the wonk’s quibbles

What jobs? How? To achieve what? Is $30,000 per year the right amount? Is it $30k of salary or of total cost to employ? And …

All those questions, of course, start to muddle the message, perhaps reduce its stickiness. On the other hand, if the message sticks you then have the chance to fill in the details, to add richness and substance to make a reality of that core message.

Now, how about the quibbling into the domain of my blogging.

What could we do with $100 billion? For example,

  • Put 4 kilowatts of solar power on 5 million American homes … every year. At the end of a decade, that would be 50 million buildings with a total of 200 gigawatts of solar power (roughly equivalent to 5 percent of America’s electricity requirements).
  • Invest $10,000 in energy audit and energy efficiency upgrades in 10 million homes and buildings each year. At the end of a decade, 100 million homes upgraded while saving $10s of billions / year in reduced energy costs for those homeowners — year-in, year out.
  • Electrify and improve America’s rail network — cutting, by the end of the decade, 2-3 million barrels per day of U.S. oil demand reducing the annual oil imports by about 1 billion barrels (or $100 billion/year in reduced trade deficit at $100 per barrel oil).

$100 billion a year could go a long (LONG) way toward addressing America’s need to move toward a clean-energy future and work to mitigate climate change en route a prosperous, climate-friendly for all of U.S.

$100 billion could go a long way with Clean Energy Jobs (the message from November 2008 to today should have been JOB! JOBS! JOBS!!!) via greening our schools (the most cost-effective way to improve education), making public swimming pools energy efficient (okay, less wasteful), fostering energy efficiency in our supermarkets, investing in clean energy research and development,

And, by the way, these paths easily could have created far (FAR) more jobs than 3 million. Here, for example, is a path to create 4.5 million jobs with $30 billion. Or, there is the Architecture 2030’s concept for leveraging $100 billion per year to create 8-10 million jobs via driving energy efficiency and clean energy into America’s built infrastructure.

In other words, $100 billion can go a long way to solving America’s (and Americans’) desperate need for fuller employment, improved economic performance, improved energy efficiency, and clean-energy production.

Imagine if Grayson’s message had been the Democratic Party’s going into the November elections?

Question: How would spend $100 billion?

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Tags: Energy · politics