The Long, Dark Winter of Neoliberalism

One piece of good news to start the week, one encouraging sign, and one good takedown of a bad idea that is long past its expiration date.

The Good News First…

As Politico reported this morning, “Lawmakers reject Cuomo’s real estate power play”; to quote from the article, which describes the rejection by NY State Senate and House of Part R of the governor’s proposed executive budget:

One-house budgets dropped over the weekend after a tumultuous week in New York state politics. Both the Assembly and Senate rejected Cuomo’s proposal to override a portion of New York City’s landmark local building emissions law. The proposal backed by real estate would allow building owners to pay for renewable credits from existing upstate projects rather than make retrofit investments or pay penalties. Opponents of Cuomo’s proposal have warned it would gut the intent of the law and limit any job creation impacts.

The battle now is to ensure that not only is Part R removed from the budget, but that no false “compromise” takes its place. Local Law 97 should stand as it was passed, no matter how hard the real estate lobby pushes the governor in Albany.

The Encouraging Sign

I encourage anyone who hasn’t followed the shocking case of the corporate political prisoner Steven Donziger – the human rights lawyer who has been under house arrest in his Upper West Side apartment for nearly 600 days at the behest of Chevron – to listen to this interview with him from this morning’s Democracy Now! – sobering to say the least, but encouraging that a coalition of climate/environmental justice organizations have written a public letter to new Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for justice for Donziger and the communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon to which he, among others, has provided legal representation.

May he soon be free and some semblance of justice served in New York as in Ecuador. The two Federal judges who have been instrumental in this miscarriage of justice should both lose their posts.

The Bad Idea

Scientific American has a good takedown of the so-called “tragedy of the commons” – one of many casually repeated (and re-Tweeted) neoliberal tropes, the uses of which often run counter to empirical evidence, but serve corporate interests. Here’s a winning excerpt:

It’s hard to overstate [Garrett] Hardin’s impact on modern environmentalism. […] But here are some inconvenient truths: Hardin was a racist, eugenicist, nativist and Islamophobe. He is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a known white nationalist. His writings and political activism helped inspire the anti-immigrant hatred spilling across America today. […] Of course, plenty of flawed people have left behind noble ideas. That Hardin’s tragedy was advanced as part of a white nationalist project should not automatically condemn its merits. But the facts are not on Hardin’s side. For one, he got the history of the commons wrong.

Wishing everyone a good week ahead. We’re seeing signs of spring in NYC, and for my part, I’m committed to working towards a new political spring in the US as well after this long, dark winter of neoliberalism.

Postscript: That Politico piece is actually from 2019, but as relevant as ever today, for better or worse.

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