Chelsea Green Publishing

A Memo to President Obama from Peter Barnes

In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt asked his labor secretary, Frances Perkins, to draft a plan to sustain Americans in old age. “Keep it simple,” he told her, “so simple everybody will understand it.” The Social Security Act adopted a year later created a brilliant old age pension system that has kept millions out of poverty and, because of its simplicity, fairness and universality, withstood every attempt to scuttle it. In 2009, you must do the same for climate change. You must create a simple, transformative and unsinkable climate protection system that, over thirty to forty years, squeezes carbon out of our economy and replaces it with clean alternatives. The essence of such a system isn’t complicated. In your campaign, you pledged to install a descending cap on carbon emissions with a goal of 80 percent reductions by 2050. Unlike John McCain, you insisted that polluters pay for all the permits they’ll be required to obtain. And you said that most of the money p
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