Apollo Alliance

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2008 – The Apollo Alliance today introduced a comprehensive national economic strategy, founded on the principles of clean energy and good jobs, to chart a promising path to new prosperity through an American landscape buffeted by high energy prices, stagnant wages, widespread foreclosures, institutional collapses, and dangerously warming temperatures.

The carefully constructed plan, The New Apollo Program: An Economic Strategy for American Prosperity, was prepared over the last year by a coalition of experts from business, labor, the environmental, and social justice communities. The title was inspired by the Apollo space program, in which the United States embraced a similarly ambitious national purpose to surmount a formidable technological challenge within a decade. The plan calls for investing $500 billion over the next ten years on specific steps for generating clean power, improving energy conservation and efficiency, cutting energy bills, restoring America’s technological and industrial preeminence, and creating 5 million high-quality jobs.

The New Apollo Program : Apollo Alliance.

We’ve been in the wilderness of Conservative nonsense for so long it’s feels surprising to find that there are so many well developed alternatives. The Apollo Group is a great example. The energy and climate problems are closely intertwined; so is the solution.

I wouldn’t want to draw the parallels between FDR and Obama too closely– there’s no great depression yet– but it does seem that his job in the next several years is to try to save Capitalism from itself. Our job, I think, is to be as informed as possible about the sources of these ideas.

Education and Class

So let’s break for a quiz: Quick, what’s the source of America’s greatness?

Is it a tradition of market-friendly capitalism? The diligence of its people? The cornucopia of natural resources? Great presidents?

No, a fair amount of evidence suggests that the crucial factor is our school system — which, for most of our history, was the best in the world but has foundered over the last few decades. The message for Mr. Obama is that improving schools must be on the front burner.

One of the most important books of the year is “The Race Between Education and Technology,” by two Harvard economists, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. They argue that the distinguishing feature of America for most of our history has been our global lead in education.

Obama and Our Schools – NYTimes.com – Nicholas D. Kirstof.

Kirstof is splitting hairs here, suggesting a contrast between fixing schools in poor neighborhoods and income redistribution, but he has a good point. Our culture is founded on the progressive ideals of education and these ideals created the materiel basis of democratic society in the United States.

We set up a system that allowed for a wide dissemination of cultural capital through the public schools and that took an enormous commitment of monetary capital as well. It was a very self-serving notion, of course, that helped to ensure a certain stability in the class system.

At least most of the time. The first group of working class kids to get an education in the late 1940s raised the kids who rebelled so dramatically in the 1960s. So the price of stability– those soldiers returning home from war had some serious demands– was a later instability.

This later instability– a demand for change, to use the current term– was finally fought back, and even reversed, starting in the Reagan administration. In the last thirty years the system has been eroded, from cheap tuition and student loans to good inner city schools. It has to be fixed.