What should a domestic Marshall Plan/21st Century New Deal look like?
Eight mayors: We need a Marshall Plan for Middle America," about the need for an economic revitalization program for their section of the Midwest, the Ohio River Valley.
According to our research, taking advantage of our community assets, geographic positioning and the strengths of our regional markets can help create over 400,000 jobs across the region by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades to buildings, energy infrastructure and transportation assets.
Then again, there is a similar piece from 2009, by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, but more broadly focused on the Midwest.
But as far as cities go, the issues of Midwestern cities like Youngstown or Pittsburgh aren't different from those of Baltimore or St. Louis, Stockton, California or Tacoma, Washington.
In short, a domestic Marshall Plan/New Deal needs to be applied nationwide.
To me, the much derided "Green New Deal" should be one leg of such a program ("What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained," New York Times). From the article:
Introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, the proposal calls on the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. It also aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.
Certainly New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps, WPA, PWA, the Tennessee Valley Authority and rural electrification initiatives--not just creating the ability to deliver electricity to individual homes and businesses, but the building of hydroelectric facilities in the west like Hoover Dam and the creation of the Bonneville Power Authority demonstrate that the nation has been able to act in the face of great need.
Note that the categories below are not mutually exclusive.
Reorganizing the federal government's approach to both cities and rural areas. After the Obama election in 2008, I wrote about reorganizing HUD and related programs, recommending the transformation of the agency into a Department of Cities and Regions as a better way to focus on the needs of cities, and about reorganizing USDA and related agencies in a similar fashion as a better way to focus on rural needs beyond "growing more food."
Poverty, the precariat, neoliberalism and globalization. Neoliberalism--the idea that the market is always more successful than government action--might have been an okay paradigm if it hadn't been accompanied by a reduction in government supports simultaneous with an increase in economic and social vulnerability.
1. Real national health care and a public health system. The pandemic is further proof that the way we organize and deliver health care is flawed. Tying health care to employment fails in recessions, when unemployment rises catastrophically.
It's even worse when government makes decisions based on ideology and politics rather than on science, evidence, and need ("Blaming the victim vs. blaming the system: Federal officials blame pandemic deaths on poor health practices of individuals").
- Health care provision needs to be independent of employment. Ironically, I thought that was going to happen in the late 1980s, because US manufacturers--especially Michigan based automakers, were less competitive relative to foreign firms because they provided health care and pensions to their employees, and their competitors did not.
- Health care needs to be reorganized to focus on health and wellness, not just sickness. This is true for both urban and rural areas. So much of chronic disease is lifestyle related--a function of behavioral choices. I've written about moving to a wellness paradigm in terms of cities ("Ordinary versus Extraordinary Planning around the rebuilding of the United Medical Center in Southeast Washington DC | Part One: Rearticulating the system of health and wellness care East of the River," "A glaring illustration of the need for comprehensive health and wellness planning in DC: Providence Hospital") but the principles are universal.
- Health care needs to better integrate public health with health and wellness, not just sickness care. This goes double for public health ("More communities need to integrate health care and public health programming"). The US response to the coronavirus has been a disaster is so many ways.
- A rural hospital network needs to be developed independent of the profit motive. Even before the pandemic, rural hospitals were closing at a rapid rate ("Getting Health Care Was Already Tough In Rural Areas. The Pandemic Has Made It Worse," NPR). Rather than let hospitals close, states and the federal government need to step in and create a rural health care system. Pennsylvania ("EIGHT MORE HOSPITALS JOIN PA'S RURAL HEALTH MODEL" HealthLeaders, "Can we heal rural health? All eyes are on Pennsylvania’s bold experiment," Philadelphia Inquirer) and Mississippi ("What can Mississippi learn from Iran," New York Times) are examples where the states are addressing this.
- Urban health care networks may need to be backstopped also. Hospitals are closing in major cities like Philadelphia ("Tower Health’s financial condition called ‘precarious’ in credit downgrade to ‘junk’ status," Philadelphia Inquirer), Baltimore, New York City, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles. The pandemic has proved the need for slack resources. But the health care financing system prioritizes efficiency and minimizing redundancy. Providing extranormal financial support to keep urban hospitals open should be an option, but as part of a reconfigured and rearticulated health and wellness system ("On brink of disaster, Jackson turns profitable thanks to visionary CEO," Miami Herald, "More communities need to integrate health care and public health programming") .
-- "Broken windows/collective efficacy: Baltimore; Newark; Grand Junction, Colorado; Pittsburgh; Albany," 2019
-- "Social urbanism and Baltimore," 2019
-- "Equity planning: an update," 2020
-- "Basic planning building blocks for "community" revitalization programs that most cities haven't packaged," 2020
-- "The need for a "national" neighborhood stabilization program comparable to the Main Street program for commercial districts," 2020
-- ""Utility" infrastructure as an opportunity for co-locating urban design and placemaking improvements," 2020
- Renewables are key.
- Improving the resilience and capacity of the electricity grid.
- Retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency.
- There's a lot of discussion about the opportunity of "green hydrogen."
- Transportation remains a ripe opportunity
- Dams and hydropower (last summer's collapse of dams in Mid-Michigan, leading to the flooding of Midland, is an example of under-investment and failed regulation)
- shifting from gasoline to electric and hydrogen powered vehicles ("California’s Ban on Gas Cars Could Go Nationwide — But Still Doesn’t Go Far Enough," New York Magazine/Curbed)
- Expanding urban transit systems, especially strengthening and extending connections between stations, major trip generators (like airports), bus system improvements including busways, etc.
- Expanding state and multi-state railroad and bus networks (Colorado's growing Bustang network is a model), with a focus on electrification of railroad passenger systems, powered by electricity generated from offshore wind. (More on this later. I've been strongly influenced by how railroad services are organized and delivered in Japan, and of course cities like London and Paris.)
- Shifting shorter range airplane travel to railroads.
- Development of high speed rail passenger services.
- Freight railroad system improvements, especially as a way to "expand" capacity on Interstate freeways by shifting trips from trucks, and to support rural economic development
- Hydrogen fuel networks for long distance trucking.
- Expansion of ferry and water taxi systems.
- Opportunities at ports and inter-modal connections with railroads.
- Canals and barges.
- Metropolitan scale bikeway networks, bicycle parking systems, payroll deduction and loan programs to buy bicycles, and active programming to shift people from the car to the bike
- promotion of e-bikes as a way to support longer distance bike commuting
- Implementing Signature Street urban design programs ("Extending the "Signature Streets" concept to "Signature Streets and Spaces""), low traffic neighborhoods, and pedestrianized districts ("Why doesn't every big city in North America have its own Las Ramblas?" and "Diversity Plaza, Queens, a pedestrian exclusive block") in cities