Interview by Brendan Maslauskas Dunn

An August 28 interview with NY gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins. Hawkins is a cofounder of the US green Party, a Teamster truck unloader for UPS in Syracuse, a member of the IWW and lifelong organizer and activist for progressive and radical change. In the interview Hawkins discusses his campaign, his history as an activist, the environment, Great Recession, labor, socialism and the need for an alternative in this country.


His campaign website is


I'm Brendan Maslauskas Dunn here in Syracuse, NY with Howie Hawkins who has spent most of his life advocating for and being involved with numerous progressive and independent political causes and has also been involved with a number of social and political struggles and also a number of independent political parties and independent political campaigns. I'm going to talk with him a little but about his past as an activist and an organizer, a shaker and a mover all around the US and up to today. Currently he's running for governor in the state of NY with the Green Party.


So first, Howie I want to go back to your roots, I guess and go back to your beginning. I guess your political awakening as it was. What was it that struck you? What was it that kind of wanted you to get motivated and get involved? And what was it that brought you down a third path and how old were you?


Howie Hawkins (HH): Well I think the first thing that got me outraged politically was when Willie Mays tried to move into a white neighborhood (it was about ten miles from where I lived but I just thought that those white folks were crazy). I was about 7/8 years old and I just thought that was wrong and I began to understand about racial discrimination. And then by the time I'm 12 I'm watching the Republicans with Ronald Reagan as their spokesperson campaign against the Rumsfeld Fair Housing Act of California. So then I'm looking at the Democrats and there's the Mississippi Freedom Party delegation trying to get seated at Atlantic City and I'm saying, well, let's see what the Democrats do. And they rejected the Freedom Democrats. So I'm sitting there, 12 years old, saying 'where's my party?'. It's 1964 and it's Goldwater vs Johnson, but to my simple - but I would still think I was right then, you know - mind was who's going to stand up against racism? The Civil Rights Act still hadn’t passed, voting rights, you know, all that was still in the future and the Democrats wouldn’t stand up for equality. So I'm just following the news, I'm just 12 years old but by the time I'm 14 - which was a couple of years later - I began to worry about the draft. And then the Peace and Freedom Party came along so at 14 I'm urging adults to register into their party. This is fall 1967 into early ‘68 so this would be a party that stood up for peace and equality that was a coalition mainly of independent socialists and the Black Panther Party that got that thing started and so that’s, you know, ever since then I’ve been for an independent political party that represents the people. To me the Democrats and the Republicans - I mean, look at what happened in ‘64: Johnson campaigned as a peace candidate and escalated in Vietnam, civil rights came really after there were urban revolts or big demos in the south, like the march in Selma so I’ve always felt that since that time that that’s what we needed and I’ve been involved with all the efforts that were non sectarian; in other words, not descended from Old Left splits over the Russia question - you know, the Peoples Party that ran Spock in ‘72 and then Citizens Party and Commoner in 1980. And then in 1984 I went to a meeting in St. Paul in Minnesota where we formed what became the Green Committees of Correspondence and then eventually became the Green Party and so that’s what I’ve been doing in terms of politics and I really sort of came to that conclusion as a freshman in high school.


Brendan Maslauskas Dunn (BMD): I also understand that you spent some time in the Bay Area and in Berkeley and I was just a little curious, what were some of the things you were involved with back then with the Black Panthers and San Francisco?


HH: Well, Willie Mays was a San Francisco Giant and he was my hero and this was in the Bay Area and this was in the 60s. So after just trying to get a hold of people to register into the Peace and Freedom Party I started to get involved with more and more activities around the Bay Area, was trying over the years and next year, well let’s see, well that fall actually even before the Peace and Freedom Party I cut school one day when they were doing the Ban the Draft week and went over there and while I was sort of looking over my shoulder for Truman officers - was on the periphery of one of those demos that week - and then the next year the big thing was, let’s see – ’68 – ‘69 that would have been the San Francisco State strike which was right up, you know, I would take a railroad and then a bus or a trolley across town just on the other side down on the peninsula, down in San Mateo and so I went to some of those activities that was basically trying to get autonomy for the black studies program so they could serve the community and S. I. Hayakawa who was one of Reagan’s allies was the president of San Francisco State so that was a big fight. So I learned a lot from that and got familiar with a lot of the different tendencies in what was called the New Left back then. One of the things that influenced me was there was something called Ecology Action West, which was really just distributing stuff from Ecology Action East which I later learned was all written by Murray Bookchin so that Post Scarcity Anarchism with an Ecological Orientation and libertarian socialism, that was probably one big influence on me back then. And then also I ran into Hal Draper’s Socialism From Below pamphlet that the independent socialists were circulating and understood the distinctions between statist socialism that was authoritarian and socialism from below which was democratic. So I’m in high school and new to all this and they’re sure not teaching us much about this in high school but I remember on Earth Day, this was 1970, I organized the Earth Day at my school and wrote up a sort of handbook on the issues and called for corporations basically to be run as public utilities without the profit motive but to serve production for use and not try to grow endlessly like capitalism makes companies do endlessly in order to survive. And I sort of got to the conclusion without understanding the whole analysis of how to get to it, this was 1970 which would make me I guess in the spring of ‘70 I was a junior, so the other thing was there were demonstrations over at Berkeley and I went over to one I remember when Peoples Park was breaking up and I was there the day before the kid was shot to death and blinded; that was on a Thursday. I cut school and went there on a Wednesday so I was absorbent of a lot of this stuff as sort of a truant who was really going to political protests which was sometimes just a library across the railroad tracks from the high school ‘cause high school was kind of slow and there was a lot of antiwar demonstrations in the Bay Area that I went to so I absorbed a lot from the movements there.


BMD: And I wanted to ask you since you brought it up, how you’re in the Green Party but you’re also in the Socialist Party and you’ve been a member of the Socialist Party for quite some time. I was curious because of the history of, I guess, what’s been done in the name of socialism in the 20th century - what you’ve seen in places like Russia and China and North Korea and other places and why, why call yourself a socialist today with that history? And I guess more importantly, what is socialism to you?


Well, any word is contested. I mean, you have democratic republics that are dictatorships so democracy - do you want to abandon that word? Do you want to abandon the idea of a republic - the public thing is the government? Any word is contested and so I think we need an alternative to capitalism which most people understand to be profit oriented enterprise and appropriation of surplus by the owners. And so what is socialism? It’s democratic appropriation and allocation of economic surplus by the people. I would go, I would say a little different from some socialists who say the producers because in any economy in any one time it’s something like at most you have about 40% of the people actually working. You have young people, children, you have old people, you have injured people so everyone should have some say in how the surplus is distributed. And the forms that those socialist economic institutions could take can be public in the sense of, like a municipal power utility, they can be cooperatives where the users - the people that contribute to the enterprise - dispose of the net income and you have consumer, you have producer or worker, you have marketing co-ops, you can have hybrids of producers and consumers, but the point is that what is produced is how you dispose of it is the democratic decision. It’s not just to those who happen to own the property and I think that that’s an important idea that America out of all the countries of the world has just sort of erased form discussion. So I think it’s important to keep that on the table. Now when I campaign I don’t campaign for an ideology – socialism or even ecologism or green – green's a label we use but – I campaign for concrete reforms that more people can understand on their own terms. Now a lot of those reforms; for example, a right to a job and a living wage which requires public employment - direct public employment to ensure everyone there has full employment is not compatible with a capitalist economy not ‘cause you couldn’t with government help have a market to get everyone employed between public and private employment because the vested interests who own the capital in the capitalist sector, they want unemployment to discipline the workforce and keep wages down. So for me, socialism for me is an extension of democracy into the economic realm.


BMD: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about, since you are one of the cofounders of the Green Party, what lead to that and talk about the founding of the Green Party and how it's changed since that founding.


HH: Well, it was actually Murray Bookchin himself who convinced me to get involved with the Green movement. I was really skeptical because I, my perception was based on the Ecology Party, which was older, in the UK - that it was liberal environmentalism and had no anticapitalist perspective but there was a period there around the early 80s where the Left and the Green – German Greens – got the economic program right so I said ok. So it’s on the table in the Green movement and of course it’s 1983 when the German Greens elected 25 people to their Bundestag which is like their Congress, their House, and that caught the attention of people all over the world particularly because the social democrats, the traditional Left in Germany had been moving to the Right and the Greens were not just raising the economic class issues, which is what the economic program did, but the so-called "new social movement issues" that the Old Left, particularly the labor Left avoided – from ecology and peace to antiracism, feminism, gay liberation… So that confluence of issues in that program made the Greens attractive. So when I had this opportunity I was invited – I'd been involved in the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance and that’s why I was invited to this meeting in St. Paul – and so I went and my hope was we could do something like the Left Greens in Germany were doing and in the United States that was tough because people came to the Greens from all sorts of perspectives. We had libertarians and Henry George/LAN/single-taxer types that were more libertarian than socialist, we had liberals who were antisocialist, we had a guy who had been in the draft resistance or expatriate movement in Canada, Mark Satton who was, who had a bad experience in SDS as it blew apart and I think he might have even been involved with the Weather Underground – its periphery and he was a very anti-Left person at that point - I think he threw the baby out with the bathwater. So we had all kinds of discussions that went on for the better part of twenty years I think to… The Greens are now, I think they’re sort of, a Left social democracy is the center of its economic program – it's strong on the environmental and social issues and the more Right wing tendencies have long left. Now it's more of a battle between more radical fundamental opposition and a more liberal reformist strategy and that sort of manifested itself in 1984 when there were people who said we should have a safe state strategy for president and that was the David Cobb candidacy where you don't contest in a close state like Pennsylvania for example but you do in New York where the Democrats are way ahead or in Wyoming where the Republicans are way ahead. In the end Cobb kind of backed off of that because it was not popular with the Greens but there was a split between that position taken by Cobb. And then Ralph Nader ran an independent campaign with Peter Camejo, a Green from California that was clear on independent politics and contesting in every state. So that's, I'm just saying, a manifestation of the more reformist and more radical approaches which is always a tension in any Left political party pushing for change. I mean, the Australian Greens just broke into the House in the Australian Parliament and they increased their seats in the Senate which is semi proportional. The House is instant runoff voting for local districts but it's still winner take all so you got to win a whole district. And now they have the, they’re in the position of bargaining with the Labour Party which is like what New Democrats are to the old Democratic Party – the New Deal Democratic Party – or New Labour is to the old Labour Party in Britain – they moved to the Right and then you've got a Liberal Party which is conservative and, you know, how are the Greens going to play that? Are they going to tolerate a Labour Party government but insist on some demands for that or are they going to try to, are they going to go into the government and take some cabinet ministries and then start administrating, in my opinion, the system they're trying to change? So that's, that goes back to the reform versus revolution debate that the Second International in socialism had. It goes back to when the Wobblies were thrown out of the Socialist Party in 1912. I mean, I think that was a big mistake. One of the other documents, I'm thinking back now to the 60s, coming in to the early 70s, Staughton Lynd and Gar Alperovitz wrote a book, a short little book, Beacon Press put it out, called Toward a New American Socialism: Strategy and Program and Staughton Lynd wrote the strategy section. And I remember one little part there he says we need a socialist party that doesn't throw out the Wobblies. You know, in other words a party that's pluralist and stays, has unity around some basic principles but allows for different tactics and lets that reform versus revolution debate go on. It's inevitable and in any particular situation it's difficult 'cause, you know, should you take a reform you can get right now? Does that advance you or does that co-opt you? It's always a tough question; it's a matter of judgment because you really don't know what the future will bring. You know, you could get an incremental reform that strengthens you and then you can push on or it could be, you get that and that's all you're going to get and then the system undermines that reform. Like, look at Social Security now. That’s been solid for 75 years? But now it's in the sights of the deficit commission that Obama appointed with people that are anti – they want to cut Social Security if not invest it in the stock market. Like Andy Stern, you know, supposedly the labor representative, he wants to invest part of it in the stock market. So, anyway, there's always that question when you have a particular choice to make and you need an organization that allows that debate to happen within it without every difference being a split.


BMD: I think along those same lines I want to ask you, I guess, tactics about electoral politics and running for political office. Eugene Debbs who was both in the Socialist Party and a member of the IWW looked at electoral politics as more of a tactic in that it gave him the opportunity and the platform, you know, it was already there, to speak to as many people as possible all over the country in ways he couldn't get to as a union organizer or something else, but he also saw the shortcomings of electoral politics and didn’t have any faith at least in how they stood in this country and how they were structured in this country and how they were dominated by the elites in this country. So I was curious on what your views are on electoral politics as a tactic and/or strategy.


HH: Well I've done the whole gamut. I've done a lot of civil disobedience. You know, Clamshell Alliance - we did a lot of occupations; I was arrested last November blocking the Wellpoint offices because they wouldn't take a single letter from a single-payer group advocating… That was the day after an election. Mass demonstrations, publications, leaflets, forums… But I find that in an election you have the ability to speak to everybody, whether it's knocking on peoples' doors - you got a good excuse to just come up and talk to them - or being in an election debate where everybody is there and the supporters of the other candidates are listening as well as your supporters. So I think it's something that a lot of our Left movements and progressive social movements end up talking to themselves. And you can see it in a city like Syracuse. I mean, there's a strong peace community but it's confined to the sort of college educated middle class and there are exceptions to that involved in the Peace Council but that's their center of gravity. And then you've got, in the Black community, church based groups and you can go around to other ethnic organizations. The labor movement has its people but they tend to talk to just their members, if they do that, I mean the organized labor has not been good in a lot of unions in educating and mobilizing and engaging the rank and file. So anyway, I think electoral politics has that like Debbs said. On the other hand, most of the power is not up for election. Suppose I did win this election and was governor. The first thing the banks in New York would say is here is what you can and cannot do or we won't finance the state's bonds. Kucinich is an example of a progressive reformer. He was the boy mayor of Cleveland and he got elected on a campaign of preventing the privatization of their municipal utility and he was a two year mayor because as soon as he was in there the banks said here's the deal: you go for privatization or we don't refinance fifteen million dollars in loans. And Kucinich said no and they said no and the city went into receivership and Kucinich lost the election. Then the interest rates jacked up when the Republican went in and they couldn't complete the deal. That was when Volcker squeezed the economy with high interest rates when there was inflation. So they did save their municipal utility and twenty years later people looked around and realized that the suburban utility had wanted to take over city utility, rates had skyrocketed, the municipal utility rates were still pretty reasonable and they had saved the consumers of Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars and at that point, Kucinich's reputation was rehabilitated. Now he's a member of Congress. So there are two lessons in there. One is: he was the mayor but he didn't have all the power and the other is: if you stick to your guns and the right position, in the end people will recognize that. So the private power of capital to make investment decisions, to move capital, to refuse to finance public finances gives them enormous powers that's not up for election. So you have to realize the limits of what you can do with a strictly electoral movement. How do you counter for example the bonding, the role that banks play in public bonds? I've advocated a state bank and actually, the Non-Partisan League got that passed in North Dakota in 1919 and that bank funds often in cooperation with community banks and credit unions, student loans, farmers and small business and municipal bonds in the state. Maine and Vermont have municipal bond banks. So you can get some power and independence by basically socializing the portion of finance. That's really important for the program of the government. So I think that's what you've got to realize. Electoral politics gives you the opportunity to speak to everybody but on the other hand, that in itself is really not enough to change the system.


BMD: You also mentioned the Clamshell Alliance and other movements you've been involved with. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about, maybe one or two movements you've been involved with in your life that have really had an impact on you.


HH: Well I think the anti-Vietnam War movement, in particular the GI movement… and when I got drafted I did enlist in the Marine Corps before the draft letter got me. My number came up – it was the last call for Vietnam – July '72 and the Defense Secretary Laird called up numbers 35 through 70 and I was number 65. I had looked at my options and decided rather than going into exile or underground I would go into the Service and first thing I did was join the American Serviceman's Union which was actually the front for Workers World Party, you know they really ran it, but it was an effort to unionize and resist imperialist war. And by the time I did it, I wasn't sticking my neck out so much, I mean, I can remember one of the things that I saw, this is when I think I was a freshman in high school, was the Presidio 27 or 34 refusing to go to Vietnam out of San Francisco and they really paid a price for that. And there was a whole, there was the GI Coffee House movement. Anyway, by the time I was, had to go in, the resistance, particularly in the Army, I mean Nixon had to Vietnamese the war as they called it – bring the troops home and let the Vietnamese fight with our funding because our soldiers in the Army in particular, they weren't fighting, they were refusing, they thought - they didn't like the war. And it even affected the Marine Corps. I went in, this was officer training, I was in college and it was an off-campus program. And actually the veterans who had been there as grunts and then come back to college on the GI Bill and were now coming back into the Marines to be officers, they were pretty anti-Vietnam War. It was amazing. The "gung ho" as they say Marines were, the kids that were just coming straight out of college and wanted to be Marines, you know the whole image around that. So I just think that's an underestimated but powerful movement that's somewhat, it's more working class movement than a lot of the movements of the 60s because it was working class people that tended to get drafted and go fight and resist. So that was something that really stuck with me and made me understand also the importance, when you're getting back to domestic affairs, the importance of building a strong labor movement. So what I ended up doing after college was construction up in northern New England where none of the jobs were union except really big projects and those guys came in from out of state. You know, nuclear power plant, sort of big college dorm construction, although I did some of that but it was a non-union shop. So I joined the Wobblies just so I had an affiliation. There were no other Wobblies anywhere around, except we had a couple of guys, we had a worker co-op for a while, we were all Wobblies but I wanted some affiliation at least in spirit. I've kept that affiliation since then. And I've been involved in a lot of labor support struggles – the JP Morgan or JP, what was it, JP Stevens textile struggle in the South. I was really involved with the Phelps Dodge struggle, the miners in Arizona. The same thing happened today as what happened to miners in Namibia, owned by the same company – Phelps Dodge, you know they struck when it was in Namibia, they were sent - this actually happened a long time ago in Arizona. In both cases they just put the workers on a train and sent them out to the middle of the desert and just dropped them off in the desert. And I got involved with that because the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth was the President and CEO and Chairman of the Board of Phelps Dodge. Maybe he wasn't Chairman of the Board of Dartmouth Trustees; he was one of the prominent Trustees. So we did a lot of work around that and even the AFL-CIO national office came in and we did a whole corporate campaign around that. There were UFW grape and lettuce boycotts. And then since I've been in Syracuse, you know there's labor actions. There was one yesterday at Coyne Textile Services a couple blocks from here, and I've been out at the Motts strike in Williamson and out at the Processed Materials rally back in June. And it's a big part of my campaign for governor. I think what we got here is a Democratic ticket that is basically saying, according to a quote unquote source that told a blogger and a columnist and TV commentator Liz Benjamin that Cuomo’s position is that private sector workers are the real workers but the public sector workers aren't really workers. And when Cuomo introduced his Lieutenant Governor candidate Robert Duffy the Mayor of Rochester he said that Duffy tangled with public employee unions in Rochester and guess what? We're going to tangle with the public employee unions. So they are basically trying to scapegoat public employees for the state fiscal crises when the fact is Wall Street is not paying their fair share, the rich are not paying their fair share – they've had tax cuts for thirty years and they're trying to balance the budget not by having those folks pay their fair and proper share but by freezing state spending, freezing or cutting public employment and cutting public services which everybody uses. So I think I've been inspired by the labor movement – not so much the official labor movement but the real labor struggles that people have when they get attacked by employers. And we haven't won a lot, I mean one thing that I, before I came to UPS and became a Teamster I was really supportive and glad to see they'd won that UPS strike in 1997. It was one of the few big strikes that the labor movement's won in a generation, you know going back to the 60s.


BMD: Could you talk a little about, you know you've been in the IWW for a number of years, what exactly attracted you to the Wobblies and how has an IWW analysis of the labor movement and the economic system we live under had an effect on your outlook?


HH: The Wobblies are an inspiration given their history. I mean, they organized people that the AFL wouldn't organize – the migrant workers, the minority worker, the workers in dirty, dangerous jobs like mining. They were relatively antiracist in a time racism was really strong in this country, in the nineteen-teens – this is when they were strong and they've kept that spirit alive. They also are very big on democracy at a time when the mainstream labor movement is bureaucratized. And the Preamble, you know, the Wobblies' classic document that's inspirational to this day. So, all those things attracted me to it and it has informed me. I have not really been engaged in any Wobbly activities because they haven't been where I live at although I'm usually contacted by a guy working in construction because in their database they still have me listed as a construction worker. And I think that's an industry where Wobblies can make really big inroads because there's a lot of small construction, home construction that's being done. I mean, even in New York City which is a union town, a lot of the rehab work is being done by immigrants who are being paid less than a minimum wage and that's been going on for decades. I did some construction work down there in the 70s and 80s and most of it on rehab stuff. And I saw that it was disheartening. But in the organized building trades, they have a tradition in this country of sort of being exclusive and trying to keep their numbers small so they can keep their wages up. It's not a class movement – it's a movement for their members. So I think there's a lot of room there for the Wobblies to organize and I wish them all the best luck. And there are other sectors like that where the IWW is organizing right now like Starbucks. Even the nonprofits they were trying to organize. Some people criticize that and there may be some merit in some of the criticism from some of the real small groups but on the other hand, I know, for example, SEIU organizers up here in Upstate New York were really overworked and underpaid by 1199. They tried organizing a union; they got fired right away. So I think there's definitely a role for the IWW. And for me it's more of inspiration and, you know, I pay my dues out of solidarity.


BMD: So unionization is not at the level it's been at, say in the 30s and 40s and there's dwindling numbers in trade unions and other unions but on the other hand we've seen things like in 2006 on May 1st the largest strike in US history. Do you think there's an upsurge in the labor movement with undocumented workers in particular but with workers in this country in general?


HH: Well, certainly undocumented workers and even the documented immigrants – they were in solidarity with each other. They're coming from countries where there's real changes going on. Venezuela, Bolivia, at least, you know, the Latin American Spanish speaking countries I think inform a lot of those peoples' activities and understanding of what's going on. So I think that could have a much broader influence and I think the AFL is in a lot better position than it was, say, 15 – 20 years ago in its relation to those workers, at least formerly. So I think that's going to be a source of renewal for the labor movement. The workers centers that are organizing those folks and things like Jobs with Justice, community-labor alliances, you know, it varies from town to town and place to place but I think those are all areas where renewal of the labor movement will come. And the reform caucuses in different unions – I'm in TDU – Teamsters for a Democratic Union – and that's probably the biggest and it's had its ups and downs but those kinds of things are popping up. So I think the potential is there and the need is there and we just got to try to make it happen.


BMD: You mentioned a lot of immigrant workers migrating up here from Latin American and Central America, a lot of countries where there are a lot of active, vibrant social movements. In Bolivia, this past year they had the world conference on the rights of Mother Earth, kind of an alternative to what they had in Europe that was seen largely as a failure there. They had something in Cochabamba and I was wondering if you think that what happened in Cochabamba will have any effect beyond that conference and will it have an effect as far as, you know, whether it be a change in environmental legislation or even within the environmental movement in the US?


HH: I think so. Certainly it has on me and how I'm putting forward my energy program. I mean, one of the ideas, they were talking about in Copenhagen but it was solidified in this Bolivian conference is that, they don't quite put it this way in their statement but one way to conceive of it is, if you're going to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius which is what the consensus on what they believe to be the tipping point beyond which you get self-reinforcing global warming because of environmental changes in the structure of the planet in its climate system. So you’ve got to stay below all of that to avert catastrophic climate change. In order to do that you’ve got to keep carbon parts per million in the atmosphere below 350. They are already at 390 so what you’ve got to do is reduce emissions and as that carbon's reabsorbed by the biosphere, you know, the plant life in the sea, reduce the emissions so that it will stabilize below 350. Preindustrial level was 275-280. Now it's 390. So we're already past where we need to be to stabilize below a two degree rise in temperature or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. So one way to conceive of that is, you have a global energy budget of 750 gigatons, or a billion tons of carbon to be released between now and 2050 and if you allocate that to all the countries of the world on a per capita basis which is equitable, the United States has six years of current emission rates and it uses up its budget. So what people who have taken those premises have done is said that we’ve got to go to a zero carbon economy in a, a carbon free economy in ten years, by 2020. No net carbon release. A renewable energy economy. And there's been a study in Australia which is another industrial country that really has about ten years to do it, stay within its carbon budget. If we start cutting now and cut fast, we can stay below our carbon budget in ten years. And this study in Australia, it's by a group called Zero Carbon Australia out of Melbourne University, showed how it could be done with existing, commercially available technology. So it's technically possible and economically I think it's the only thing that's going to get this stagnant economy going again because we have excess capacity in the old industries – we're operating at about 35% capacity – and if we get a stimulus to get the old industries going again, we're going to destroy the planet so we've got to build a whole new productive apparatus. So it's real easy. You don't have to go beyond capitalism; you just have to invest in that for now and get the economy going. Although that will require, I think, much more public investment and things like state banks to get that investment in the right place. So because of that, that's why I got to a goal in my campaign of – we need a carbon-free economy in ten years in New York. And New York should take the lead on that and hopefully inspire the country and other countries. And that's the kind of thing, that's why you need the Green Party to set the standard and the goal. So this demand is not based on, say like the Apollo Alliance which sort of looks at – what can we get from the existing politicians and they sort of line up behind Obama and call for 25% reduction by 2025, or 25% renewables by 2025. Not because science says this is what we need to do to avert environmental catastrophe but that's because what we think we can get under the best circumstances under the existing politicians. The role of the Green Party to say is here is the real situation; here is what we really need to do. But part of what influenced me in laying out that program was what they did down there in Bolivia and what they demanded in Copenhagen. The whole undeveloped world brought a perspective to reducing carbon economies, this global budget idea, so it's equitable. The way it is right now, the developed countries which have a history of colonialism and imperialism are basically saying, we're going to continue burning carbon and basically that's going to preclude those countries from having any development. So I think it's influenced us and it's influenced the grassroots climate change activists. And it's important to distinguish between those kinds of activists and "big green", you know, the big environmental groups that get corporate funding like the Sierra Club and the NRDC who are promoting, for example, gas as a bridge fuel – natural gas as a bridge fuel to renewables. It's a carbon fuel – there's a scientist actually at Cornell that says when you count all the methane leaks and all the costs you have to do to get the gas and move it, it releases as much carbon as coal. I don't know if he's exactly right but it releases a lot of carbon. So that's a diversion from renewables. We need to go straight for solar, wind, ground source heat pumps, efficiency, mass transit, urban design so you have walkable communities. They call it smart growth sometimes. I don't like that phrase so much. I mean all those things. Organic agriculture, the agricultural sector is dependent on fossil fuels and that gets to their scarcity for its pesticides and fertilizer. But also restoring soils and greenery and forest is part of the solution of not just stopping carbon emissions but sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. So to me that's central, that's the central economic technological piece in building a sustainable green economic recovery and a habitable planet.


BMD: I want to ask you about the Great Recession we're now in. Do you think it's going to turn into another Great Depression? Are there any signs of it letting up?


HH: Well the stimulus that a lot of countries did, particularly Europe and The United States, they are now turning to austerity. They're doing the same thing Roosevelt did in 1937 with a balanced budget and he went into another recession. Look, the private sector, everyone talks about public sector debt, but historically it's high and it doesn't look too good but it's not as high as it's been, like after World War II. And compared to the private sector it's not as bad. Household indebtedness, consumer indebtedness is at all time record levels by far. And it's mostly the income percentiles between 40 and 90%. Those people owe twice as much as they make in a year. The bottom percent of the 40 income, they own the pawn shop, you know, the rent-a-store. They don't really have mortgages and credit because they're so low income they can't get it. And in businesses it's highly indebted so with consumers trying to shore up their own balance sheets and now businesses trying to do the same thing, you have depressed consumer demand, depressed business investment. The only thing that can fill the demand gap is public spending – spending by the government. But now we're turning to the - the Democrats are echoing the Republicans and are calling for the economic policies of Andrew Mellon - the Treasurer from 1921 right up into the end of the Hoover Administration. Andrew Mellon's philosophy was that the point of a depression was that property returns to its rightful owners and that's a quote. I mean, that's his attitude and that's really the attitude of the elites. You know, they are, look at the banking industry. They went through a crisis, we bailed them out and now it's more consolidated than ever and they're making record profits. And then they fight the slightest tax increases. We've got to have public spending. I think, yes, we are in danger of a depression. Or we can just have like an L shaped stagnation. In other words, we jump down and then we're going to be flat and stagnant with 10 or so percent unemployment indefinitely. I think that's where capitalism tends. You build out your productive apparatus because everyone's competing and then suddenly you're over, you have excess capacity. And it's underutilized. Like I said, it's about utilized at about 65%; 35% unused. And there's a lot of unused labor. The real unemployment rate is more around 20% than 10% when you count everyone who is discouraged, working part-time who wants to work fulltime and so forth. So yah, we're in danger of having that kind of long term stagnation. I mean, it could stabilize like that, like a lot of Third World countries with high inequality of wealth and income, massive unemployment, a whole class of people that are not working class – they're marginalized, they're day laborers, they get occasional casual work, they get no benefits, no security. And those kinds of societies have been going on in the Third World since decolonization in a lot of those countries. I mean that's another possible future. Will Americans settle for that? Will they divide and have the middle class and the still working class keep the marginalized classes down? Or will those people unite against the elites that are taking advantage of both of them? That's the big political question. So the economic question's in the end a political question. Look at New York State. They say we have a fiscal crisis but they collected 15 billion dollars in stock transfer tax and gave it back to


Wall Street which they've been doing since '81. They said we went into the year with a 9 billion dollar deficit we had to close. Well if they had just kept that money then they would have had a 7 billion dollar surplus. I would add to that a 50% bankers bonus tax on their cash bonuses and that was $20 billion last year. That's another 10 billion. If we went back to the Rockefeller Republican tax rates of the progressive tax structure that doesn't flatten out after the fortieth income percentile but keeps going progressively graduated through the income spectrum, we could cut taxes for 95% of New Yorkers and still collect 8 billion more. You add those three numbers together – 16, 10 and 8 and you get 34 billion. Subtract the 9 billion deficit we had last year or we have projected for next year, you got 25 billion dollars that could be spent on what we call the Green New Deal. We call it the Green New Deal because, well, the New Deal because the Democrats have abandoned the New Deal. We want to bust the myth that the so-called New Democrats have anything to do with the New Deal. The leadership of the Democratic Party has abandoned it. They don't stand for public spending in a depression, they don't support income supports – I mean, they destroyed that with welfare. I mean, the Social Security Act from 1936, they got rid of that in 1996 under Clinton. Now they got Social Security in their sights… And then the other demands from the New Deal that never were fulfilled but that were fought for in the 30s and the 40s and the last gasp in the 70s where national health insurance where everybody's covered, single-payer health care system and full employment with government as employer as a last resort, full employment, living wage jobs for all, willing and able to work… The last time any Democrat put that into Congress even as a model piece of legislation was Charles Hayes from Chicago in about 1984. There isn't even any model legislation form the Black Caucus, or Bernie Sanders or someone. It's totally forgotten. So we want to pick up the torch the Democrats have dropped in terms of those social-democratic kind of reforms. And then we want to green the New Deal. One is ecology, sustainable development. That's this new green energy infrastructure I'm talking about. And the other is economic democracy. If we have a state bank or if we have public spending to start new enterprises, we should encourage cooperatives. We need public ownership in key sectors; certainly in at least part of finance. We need a state bank. Healthcare – it should be a public health service. And energy – we should have municipal power companies like we have in a lot of… there are 50 towns in New York that have it, or rural cooperatives. They should federate and control the NY Power Authority and basically run it as a public utility, not a for-profit enterprise that has no incentive to go the green energy path. So I think there are solutions. But as I said, so the question why don't the politicians go for the stock transfer tax? They could have solved the crisis right there. Wall Street's sure got the money. I mean, we have higher concentrations of income and wealth than we've had since 1928, NY has the highest inequality of any state in the Union in the US which is the highest inequality of any industrial country. So the money is there. Why won't they do it? It's politics, not economics. It's money-drenched politicians, not impersonal market forces. They're bought and paid for by the Wall Street interests. I mean, so the economic problem is a political problem and that's why the Greens are trying to offer an economic alternative.


BMD: I was wondering if you could speak a little about, if you know of any lessons maybe from our own history, our own past in the 1930s, in the Depression of social and political movements that made change - things that shed light on our situation today.


HH: Well I think in the 30s, the key lesson is that it was more than just the social movements, which obviously did a lot. The sit-down, or the general strikes of '34, the sit-down strikes of '36 and '37, they really gave impetus to what we got from the New Deal. But the other thing going on in '34 when the general strikes happened that scared the hell out of the establishment and made them make some concessions. But the other piece, to get Roosevelt and the Democrats to move was that they felt threatened by Floyd B Olson, former Labor governor of Minnesota who was thinking about running for president and Huey Long in Louisiana who was economically populist and right wing in a lot of respects but they both were appealing to the people that were really suffering in the Depression. And the Democratic National Committee did a poll and saw that Huey Long would take enough votes from Roosevelt that he'd lose the Republican if he didn't lose to Huey Long. Floyd B Olson actually, according to some biographers, actually Long wanted to support Olson in '36 and sort of let him beat FDR down and then make another run at '40 and that would be Long. But Floyd B Olson got stomach cancer and Huey Long got assassinated, but not before it scared the Democrats and the people around Roosevelt enough to really move far on the New Deal. So beside the movements and those general strikes in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Oakland and so forth, there was also the electoral threat. And I think the electoral threat's often forgotten by, you know, the Left is always saying we got to build a social movement, come back, get out in the streets. But if you don't have an electoral alternative, all your street demonstrations are is militant lobbying on the Democrats, really, you know, hoping they will respond. But if you don't offer an electoral alternative, they’re going to take the votes for granted. And you can have, like what we did in Iraq when we had all those people in the streets. In the end, the majority of the Democrats voted for the war and they knew they'd take the peace vote for granted and they did. They take the labor vote for granted; they take the Black vote for granted. They have not really delivered to any of those constituencies in decades. So I think that's one lesson from the '30s: that electoral, that move toward an independent party which stayed alive. I mean as late as 1940 John Lewis was going to support a labor party, then he finally endorsed the Republican. But there was ferment there and resolutions and that had been going on since Debbs' day and the Socialist Party, it split over the Russian Revolution so you had the Communists and the Socialists and then the Palmer Raids and they exiled a lot of people and there's a lot of repression there… So by the '20s, Debbs, while he was still alive endorsed the La Follette, the progressive in 1924 who did get 16% of the vote, although La Follette wasn't about to form a third party, he was just, it was just a one-time protest campaign and he soon died. But all through that whole period there was a lot of farmer/labor activities, there were Socialists and Farmer-Labor candidates who got elected then and held office locally. I mean, Berlin, New Hampshire, conservative Rockefeller Republican New Hampshire. Berlin was a factory town in the northern part of the state. They had Farmer Labor government until 1956. Same thing in Milwaukee, a Socialist – Frank Zeidler – he was there. At the height of the Cold War you had a socialist running a major American city – Milwaukee and in little towns like Berlin, New Hampshire, and there were other places. So that possibility of a People's Party, a Labor Party, a third progressive party was always there but it could never quite pull it together. The 60s started to generate that and I see the Greens as a late manifestation of that because I think you first had the Freedom Now Party which was a Black effort and what became the Black Panther Party which was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Alabama – had the black panther as its symbol and nicknamed the Black Panther Party, that's what the Oakland Panthers picked up… So there was effort, there was movement in the Black movement toward that. And then the Peace and Freedom Party, that was a combination of the Black movement and the antiwar movement in California. They tried to go national. I mean, there's a whole lot of history around that too. But the various, you know, people like me, and I'm not the only one, have been involved in these efforts and now we're in the Green Party. Not, maybe not every effort, but people coming out from different parts of those efforts from SNCC and the Freedom Democrats and the Freedom Now Party to the Citizens Party and regional parties that formed at different times. So I think that's why we partly lost some momentum coming out of the 70s. We got concessions from both Johnson and Nixon, and those were massive social movements, but then the Democrats, by the late 70s there was a group of Democrats called the, they called them neoliberals and they were, they were neoliberals – what we would call neoliberalism today. Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart… I knew Tsongas because he actually went to my college – Dartmouth – and actually worked with him on divestment from South Africa – that's another movement I was involved in. He was very supportive with us and kind of exposed some of the inside going-ons and lies about us by the president of the college and the trustees, you know, those of us in the movement for divestment and I kind of trusted him. But then he came back and gave this speech at Dartmouth which began to be given all over and he said, look, the Democrats, we got the women’s' vote, we got the labor vote, we got the Black vote, we got the environmental vote, we got the peace vote. They're not going to vote Republican because they're so bad so all we need to do is adopt the, basically what he says is, adopt the Republican economic program and we get the business and money support, and then we're unbeatable. That was his theory. The Democrats did that and they've been getting their ass kicked ever since, because business I think which really has a lot of effort in this, a lot of power, says why get fake Republicans when we can get real ones, now that the Democrats aren't even a real alternative. So, that's what happened there. And I think because so much of the people in the 60s went into the Democratic Party with the McGovern campaign. And then a lot of the groups that consider themselves super-revolutionary, particularly Maoist groups, went into the Democratic Party with the Jackson campaign in '84. And the independent Black movement went into the, except for a small group, into the Rainbow Coalition and the Jesse Jackson movement. Jackson, in the end, took Rainbow as his own brand. You know, Rainbow came from Fred Hampton, a Panther in Chicago that was assassinated by the FBI with the Chicago Police and he was building a coalition with Chicanos and poor whites and he called it the Rainbow Coalition. Mel King, who is an independent political activist in Boston, used it for his campaigns for mayor – which are nonpartisan in Boston – And I know that Jesse Jackson, when he came through New Hampshire and Vermont where I lived at at the time, he was the Jackson campaign in New Hampshire and Vermont. New Hampshire was the first primary after Iowa. Jackson didn't even go to Iowa. Vermont was the next day. I think it was caucuses; no one was paying much attention to it. But he campaigned up there as the Jackson campaign. Then the next big primary was Massachusetts. South Carolina was in there somewhere. I think at that time it was later. Massachusetts was earlier. Anyway, he came out of Massachusetts as a Rainbow Coalition. He got that from Mel King. But anyway, the Left went into the Democratic Party and got lost, disappeared as a opposition. There's still people there – the Progressive Democrats for America – you know, a lot of good demands and they're supporting candidates in primaries and I've been watching. I don't think they've won one primary. And then they turn to us and say, well you can't win as Greens. And they can't win as Progressive Democrats so maybe we should work together, instead of… and go all the way through to the general election as Greens. That's the pitch I'd make to them. In the past I've found that, those folks in Upstate NY anyway, will give some money as individuals, put some yard signs up, but as an organization they won't endorse us because they want to be quote unquote players in the Democratic Party. I think the Democratic Party really doesn't take them too seriously because they know they’re going to, they think they’ve got their votes in their pocket. So I think, you talk to, the original question was lessons, I think you've got to have, along with the social movements which you've got to have – the social movements drive the electoral stuff forward – but if there are no social movements the electoral candidates start to compromise trying to get a broader appeal and not being, making much of a difference. But on the other hand if the movements don't have their own candidates, then the Democrats are going to take them for granted. And all the big demonstrations and what not, it just rolls off them like water off a duck.


BMD: I just have a few more questions. I want to ask you if you could talk just a little more about your campaign and prospects you have for the upcoming election. What kind of gains you think the Green Party will gain in the state and what kind of impact you'll have.


HH: Well one goal is to get 50,000 votes for the gubernatorial ticket and that gets the Green Party a ballot line for the next four years and that makes it much easier for our local, state and congressional candidates to get on the ballot. For example, for me to run for Congress in this district would take 3,500 ballot signatures I would have to collect in late July and August and everything is 7,000 signatures, which means for that whole six week period we've got to devote every effort to just getting those signatures. And then if they challenge us, it's been as late as October 1st when I find out I get confirmed on the ballot. If we had a ballot line, we need 5% of the enrolled Greens. Well there are 1,000 in the district now so that's 50 signatures. So we could call a meeting at the beginning of that petitioning period, which is early June and have people fill out the petition right there and we're done. Then we could start an early June campaign instead of, really, after Labor Day. And it would be much stronger and we'll elect more people. We've elected four mayors, about half a dozen councilors, three people to school boards around NY State but that's just a scratch in the surface of what's possible. I think if you go by, look at our platforms in the public opinion polls, we have majority support for most of our demands but that doesn't translate to elections because we have a single member district, winner take all system where a lot of people that like our platform vote for the Democrats defensively as the lesser evil to steal defeat - Republicans who they're fearing the most so that dynamic is something we're up against. But getting 50,000 votes and getting access to the ballot is a big step. So that's one goal and, I think, we're very optimistic we can do it. This year the Democratic ticket is weak in the sense that there's nobody like… in 2002 Carl McCall would have been the first black governor so we got a lot of votes for that reason. Spitzer was the sheriff of Wall Street. He looked really good coming in to a lot of liberal Democrats. Cuomo – no – he's got this fiscal austerity, he won't commit on any issues, he's the son of a former governor, he's got his own baggage; he's just not the same level of competition so even though, and the Republicans are weak, so he's going to win but it leaves it free for a lot of people to vote for us and send a message. So for that reason I think that just the dynamic of the election makes it a lot better chance for us to get 50,000 votes. But beyond that I think we have an experienced network around the state, we've been at this state election since, I think, '96 and we can draw on that. And what's different this time is I have a lot of rank and file labor support, you know, people on local labor councils and caucuses in different unions are supporting me. The NYSU – the state teachers' union and CSEA, one of the two public employee unions has refused to endorse the Democratic ticket, which they normally do – because of the conservative fiscal policies and the attacks on workers, trying to scapegoat public workers for the fiscal crisis that they're getting from Cuomo and Duffy. So for that reason I think we're going to get a lot more labor votes which seems to be a trend in English-speaking countries with a democratic or labor party that's become more conservative - like New Labour in the UK or in Australia, or like the new Democrats here – they've moved to the right and basically adopted a conservative economic policy. And as a result in those two countries, Greens have been elected for the first time to their Houses or to their Parliament and those are winner take all, single member districts so I think that bodes well for us in the future. So that sort of, getting a better position from which to make future election campaigns. But the second objective, and I think we have a shot at doing this, is to move the debate, to change NY politics, to put things on the agenda that are not being discussed like taxing the rich, that tax reform program I outlined. I mean that really, when I talk about that to people they're like, "yeah, why aren't we talking about that?”. I mean even reporters. It's so removed from the dialogue, I've run into reporters that are scratching my head – "I've never heard of that stock-transfer tax. What are you talking about? Are you making this up?" – and I've got to point them to, there is a lot of stuff about it. And the politicians, I've experienced a state senator that's chief of staff acting as if he didn't know what I was talking about. This was a group of parents and advocates for the schools basically saying don't cut the school budget and this chief of staff saying, "Oh we don't have the money", and I said, "16 billion dollars. You got 16 billion dollars and you gave it back". And he said, "What are you talking about?" "I'm talking about the stock-transfer tax. And he said, "Oh I'll have to look into that" as if… I know that… There are groups, there's a fiscal policy institute supported by union groups - there's a New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness group lobbying down there, Citizen Action – they know about it but they act like they don't. And in the paper the next day, this Senator Melesky said "uh, yeah Westhill don't have the money; we're still going to have to cut". So I think we can move that debate. We just got a - we're getting media coverage pretty good, and as I go around doing news conferences, we're starting to get into the political blogs, daily news and so forth and hopefully we can catch their attention. And one thing I've been telling the media is, look, if you're going to cover the horse race, you don't have a story because the Republicans are so far behind Cuomo it's stupid. But the interesting story is the policy debate and that's what they have to cover. I mean, the Republicans are off the charts. They, you know, all they can talk about is the Islamic Center down in New York and I'm saying, why do these right wing Republicans hate our freedom? They talk freedom and act like totalitarians. The first clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is religious freedom, and then you get press, assembly, speech and the right to petition government. But they want to take that away. Why do they hate our religious liberty, our constitutional liberties? So I've been calling them out on that. But they've got everybody riled up about that which is a diversion from the real issues facing people – over 100,000 people have lost their jobs in the Great Recession, over 100,000 homes have been lost to foreclosure in NY State. People are really hurting. And they want to talk about some community center that's two blocks from the World Trade Center. You can't even see it from - the site where this is going, you can't see the World Trade Center, the World Trade Center site can't see this street. And it's 13 stories, they say it's huge. Thirteen stories ain't nothing in the financial district – downtown in New York? C'mon. This is just silly. And the other thing is, one of those – Paladino – the guy from Buffalo, this slumlord said, we should put the poor in underutilized state prisons and clean them up. I mean, this is just beyond the pale. But that's getting some attention so I guess if there's no horse race, they can cover the policies and hopefully they can cover us too. But I think the differences are stuff that will resonate with people. Fair taxation and then fund the schools, the transit, things that are being cut and put people back to work – direct public employment, providing public works and services that the local communities define, funded by the state. That will stimulate the economy; it will increase private employment and then the green energy transition. Everybody is for the green now. I mean one thing we've been able to do as the Green Party is to put issues on the table locally. I mean here in Syracuse – the living wage issue, public power, progressive tax reform and the whole idea of sustainable green development. I mean every politician in this town talks green. They don't know quite what to do with it but they know that that's what they got to stand for because the people want it. So I think that's a second big objective – we can move the debate. And that's, you know, you get into the debate and that's half the battle because I think our ideas, once people understand them and we get to do some public education and get more organized. You know, these are popular ideas that people will support. And then I think we're on the road to really begin competing with the corporate-backed parties.


BMD: I was wondering if you're facing any kind of, I guess, what kind of opposition you're facing as far as dirty tricks we've seen happen every four years with national elections trying to keep third parties and Nader out. Or on a state level – examples like Aaron Dixon in WA with Democrats in power trying to play dirty tricks. Is there anything happening in NY?


HH: Yeah, Aaron and I ran the same year in '06 for Senate and I was excluded here from those debates. Exclusion from debates is a problem. We're on the ballot. Nobody challenged us – our petition was unchallengeable. And that hasn't been so much the issue. I think, I'm not sure how it all sorted out, but most of the third parties that were legitimate, that had real petitions and are on the ballot. So there are four or five of us – some right wing, some progressive. The other progressive is the Freedom Party which is a black-led thing out of East NY - Charles Barron who's a city council member and they seem to have an inside/outside strategy. They've endorsed a Democratic slate of committee people and his wife's a Democratic assembly member and he's a Democratic member of the council. But they're leaving an independent option so they seem to be wanting to do what Working Families has done – the union and community organization backed party that mostly cross-endorses Democrats and tries to push them to the left. Although I think in their case they ended up tailing them to the right because they're so - like right now they're telling Cuomo who at first wouldn't take their line because they're under investigation for some financial irregularities, "please, whoever you nominate, we'll put on our ticket". And they didn't make any demands or anything. And if you follow some of the issues like healthcare they’ve chased Democrats to the right. But I don’t know what the Freedom Party will do in the long run if they get their 50,000 votes and the ballot line and we’ll see if we can work with them if that’s what happens. And then what do you got? You got a tax payer party that’s Paladino – a Tea Party kind of formation. You got the Libertarians. You got this guy called Rent is Too Damn High Jimmy McMillan – he’s a guy out of Brooklyn – he’s sort of perennial get on the ballot but not much of a campaign guy - single issue on rent control and he doesn’t usually get very many votes. I think that’s it. So, those are the independent parties. And then Working Families has a stand-in if Cuomo doesn’t take it and they’re still sweating that out. So they may be in there trying to get 50,000 votes with a tenants’ lawyer from Long Island. So we’re going to have to compete for those 50,000 votes but I think we’ll get them.


BMD: So I wanted to ask you one last question. Ralph Nader several weeks ago stopped by Utica, NY and it’s my understanding that he actually went out of his way and requested to go to Utica. And he spoke a little bit there about the importance of staying in smaller cities, staying in smaller towns, staying in rural areas as an activist, as a community organizer and working for progressive change there. You moved to Syracuse in the early 90s and you’ve been here ever since. I wanted to know what your thoughts are on about that: staying in places that are often left out and often forgotten. And I also wanted to know what your thoughts are on Upstate NY. What’s a way forward for Upstate NY? It’s left out of the rest of NY State – Downstate and New York City. It’s often neglected.


HH: Well I agree that small cities and even towns are where the Left can really make a difference. New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles – those are really big, tough places to get a movement going. There’s a lot of competition, there’s strong power structures and they’re just so big. Whereas a relatively small group of committed people can make a huge difference. Syracuse has a population out of 140,000; the metro area 450,000. You can really make a difference in a place like this. Utica would be similar except on a little smaller scale. And I think that Upstate NY, we got a bunch of smaller cities – a lot of them are Rust Belt former industrial towns that have hollowed out, the industry left a lot of it, but there’s a lot of potential here, including for manufacturing – we got water. Water’s going to be like gold going forward with the planet heating up and the problems that other parts of this country, in particular the West/Southwest are going to have with water. It’s good for agriculture. We have a history, got a workforce that is very productive. We have a lot of things going for ourselves; we just need a, basically an industrial policy which we need, basically economic planning to make that happen. We’ve tried to do it in this state with tax incentives and tax breaks and power for job subsidies and the companies have taken those subsidies and use them to finance shift in production overseas. I know oil, chemical and atomic workers back in the 90s documented that Hooker Chemical, which is a big polluter in the Buffalo area, basically ran a chemical plant into the ground there while they build a plant in the maquiladoras in Mexico. The value for that plant was exactly equal to the power for job subsidies they’d been given by the State of New York. So New York’s given away this corporate welfare with no accountability. I mean if you’re going to have public investment, take over ownership and management rights and income rights just like any other owner. That’s my attitude. If the public’s going to spend money on it, let’s have public ownership, not just public giveaways. I think with that kind of thing… then you need to coordinate activities and have a strategy and that’s where I think the Green energy strategy is central because you got to build a whole new energy system, a mass transit system – inner urban rails as well as intra urban mass transit – and then you need the manufacturing to support all that and then you got retrofitting all the buildings, we got seven million homes and I don’t know how many commercial and business buildings, and factories - there’s all kinds of things you can do to make energy use more efficient and production. So we basically got to rebuild or retrofit our whole built environment, have a whole new energy and transportation structure and we need a manufacturing base to support that. So there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of opportunity to do it and we just need some good plans to make it happen. And I think that Upstate NY once was a manufacture power house; I think it can be again – this time with clean, green manufacturing. And I think a big part of that also is the agricultural sector. We need to support that and go to an organic and see agricultural feedstocks for manufacturing as central to green manufacturing, green chemistry because you’re bringing biological materials, not synthetic materials for manufacture which makes them biodegradable when their useful life is over, when they can’t be manufactured or reused so that makes recycling in balance with the environment much easier. It’s a whole technological complex that gives us plenty of work to do and put people back to work and Upstate NY has got all the things you need. It’s got the space, the water, the workforce, a tradition of good manufacturing so I think if we play our cards right we could have a real revival Upstate.


And in terms of the balance between Downstate and Upstate, I think we got to get away from that. Because if you go and talk to people in the neighborhoods, particularly the poor neighborhoods in the City, and they say, “Upstate’s getting it all! They take all our kids and they put them in prison Upstate which is just a boondoggle and an employment for rural Upstate”. Both sides got grievances but what their common enemy is those people on Wall Street and those real estate barons that aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. That’s why we have this fight between Upstate/Downstate on resources. So I think that’s one perspective. And then you’ve also got to realize that when you say Downstate, the Downstate in power is in Long Island and Westchester who are getting more of the school support relative to their need than the inner cities or the rural areas. That’s another thing. It’s not so much the Upstate versus Downstate; it’s the more affluent suburbs dominating the poor inner cities as well as the rural areas when it comes to things like allocation of state funding for schooling.


Additional information