With each passing month, we see new and often searing evidence that the climate crisis is deepening. The evidence affirms that a Green New Deal is not some idealistic wish—it’s an environmental and economic necessity.
In this issue, with support from the Open Society Foundations, we present a symposium making the moral case for a Green New Deal and describing how it would be implemented and paid for, what shape it might take legislatively, what long-term targets it would need to hit, and finally, the kind of grassroots movement that would be needed to support and sustain it. Authors include Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who made solving climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He co-authors the lead essay with Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement. Other contributors to the package include former Representative Tom Perriello; Bracken Hendricks and Sam Ricketts, who worked with Governor Inslee; Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who helped develop the Green New Deal; Leah Stokes of UC-Santa Barbara; J.W. Mason of the Roosevelt Institute; and Maurice Mitchell of the Working Families Party.
Les Gelb passed away last year. He was a dear friend of the journal, a board member since our inception—and, of course, one of the most prominent foreign-policy analysts in recent American history. The issue features nine short essays discussing different aspects of Les’s legacy by some of our leading foreign-policy thinkers: Tony Blinken, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Jake Sullivan, Elizabeth Economy, and many more.
The Democratic presidential contenders are talking about a lot of things, but one topic that has been getting surprisingly and disappointingly short shrift is middle-class wages. Here, John E. Schwarz, Harry Lasker, David Callahan, and William C. Coleman present an original proposal for how to structure corporate taxation to incentivize paying higher wages. It’s an approach that deserves wide attention.
Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott respond to Vanessa Williamson’s review of their book. Rahul Gupta, the former health commissioner in West Virginia, reviews an important new book on “deaths of despair.” Adele M. Stan reviews Katherine Stewart’s new book on right-wing religious nationalism, and Arthur Goldhammer reviews Branko Milanovic’s meditation on the future of capitalism
In 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting and a team of researchers in Toronto discovered that insulin, a naturally occurring protein obtained from the pancreases of hogs and cattle, could stabilize the blood-sugar levels of diabetics. They won the Nobel Prize. But they refused to get rich from it. Much as Jonas Salk would say of polio years later, Banting declared: “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”
Now we use synthetic insulin, and it does not belong to the world. It belongs to Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi. And Americans pay insulin prices that can only be described as immoral. You hear a lot of people talk about how insulin should be cheaper, as it is in Canada and other countries where the government can negotiate prices. We decided to do all that talk one better. Why not just make it free? Merrill Goozner, a veteran health-care journalist, lays out how it could work.
And here’s the surprise: It’s simpler, and less expensive, than you might think. Now for some political trivia: You likely know that the House of Representatives has 435 members. It’s had 435 since. . . ? The answer is 1912. The population of the country then was 92 million. Why was the line drawn there? Racism and xenophobia, basically. Thomas Downey, who served nine terms in the House as a representative from Long Island, argues that expanding the House—in the right way—can right that historical wrong and help reduce polarization, too.
We have two education-related articles in the feature well. Kevin Carey returns to our pages with an argument for radically reforming school districts to better equalize funding. And Rachel Cohen digs into the little-covered but alarming issue of cyberattacks on our nation’s ill-prepared school systems.
In the books section, editorial board member Isabel Sawhill reviews Binyamin Appelbaum’s important new book on how economists came to dominate the discourse. Stuart Whatley critiques the arguments of one prominent libertarian economist, Tyler Cowen. Vanessa Williamson reviews Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott’s book on the public option. And Lindsay Beyerstein reviews Steven Greenhouse’s new history of the American labor movement.