–Soenke Pietsch (‘21)
The Great Depression can and should be considered one of the most worrisome and volatile periods of the our nation’s history; millions of Americans were struggling to find a job, not speaking of one’s that actually paid a living wage. Without these steady supplies of income, most Americans increasingly became desperate, turning to whatever was available and cheap enough to feed themselves and their families. Although all economic indicators currently point towards signs of growth and prosperity for our nation, financial predicaments are no longer our only worry.
Scientists have successfully and continuously proven that our Earth is warming, whether that be because of climate change or not, shall remain independent in this regard and up to the decision of oneself. Nonetheless, our nation continues to face one of the other big obstacles for our upcoming future, determined by most to be our persistent, unavoidable crack in wealth equality, along with a slew of other horrifying conundrums such as access to affordable education, healthcare and housing. Yet, up until now, a walk through the halls of Congress would have revealed little to no progress being made to address, not speaking of even solving, any of these issues; at least until now.
While our current issues may have been avoidable for most politicians in Washington for the past 10-20 years, the kerfuffles of the Great Depression were hard for most politicians, including our President at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to avoid and not to address. In light of the mounting pressure by both the open, American public, as well as economic contributors and the connected, global state of despair, Roosevelt decided to act, not in favor of his own beliefs and morals, but in favor of helping the country. To help boost and bolster the economy, the Commander in Chief pumped billions upon billions of dollars into the economy. To do this, Roosevelt created and initiated a plethora of programs such as signing the Tennessee Valley Authority Act into law, creating the TVA and enabling the federal government to build dams along the Tennessee River that controlled flooding and generated inexpensive hydroelectric power for the people in the region. Not only did his actions help employ people free themselves from poverty with federal jobs, this specific act also helped reduce America’s impact on the environment. The name under which all of these programs existed: the New Deal.
In an exciting twist, the issues that we currently face may have actually finally been addressed and what some have described as conspicuous: The Green New Deal. Although this legislation is not connected to the original New Deal by Roosevelt in any way, the similarities of calls for swift change are striking and should be noted. In this new piece of legislature, a handful of newly elected Congressmen, and notably Congresswomen, set out the guidelines for what they believe will help carry America forward for the next generations to come. The piece includes calls for new infrastructure, making access to medical care a right, not a privilege, equalizing the playing field for accessible housing and creating opportunities for free, public higher education for all. Similar to the criticism about the New Deal that centered around the powers of the federal government and not overstepping these, the Green New Deal has also not gone down without its own share of controversy and critique. Politicians on both sides of the aisles have shared their concerns such as proclaiming that the bill would “forbid Americans from eating hamburgers and enjoying ice creams since cows fart too much to save the environment”.
However, this statement represents the exact reason why the New Deal and the Green New Deal are not one and the same. While the New Deal called and implemented action through passed bills in the Senate and House of Representatives, the Green New Deal is categorized as a resolution, meaning that should the legislature be passed by the House, it would put forward the overall theme and vision of what the government should work in the next years, equitable to the North Star for maples journeys. Unlike the cut backs seen with the New Deal, which would probably have frowned upon wasting money on ‘useless’ ice cream, it may just be possible that the only reason why one shouldn’t eat under the Green New Deal is if your accessible doctor advises you not to.