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Need to Know, September 23, 2011: Creating ‘green jobs,’ the American garage sale

This week's host Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa is this week’s guest host for Need to Know as we look at the future of “green jobs” in the U.S. As the Obama administration continue to support and invest in green technologies as a path to job creation, competition from other countries is making it difficult for some of these businesses to take off in the U.S. We visit Greenville, Michigan, to see the challenges it faces in trying to revitalize itself and create a new economy for green jobs.

Also: Guest essayist Marcos Villatoro demonstrates how today’s tough economic times has changed a familiar American event: the garage sale. What was once a way to get rid of an abundance of possessions bought during times of affluence has become, for many families, a way to keep their heads above water.

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Watch the individual segments:

It’s not easy being green: Creating a green economy in Michigan

Need to Know visits one Michigan town that is trying to reinvent itself as a green community after the biggest employer in town moved its operations to Mexico.

Jennifer Granholm on the challenges for green jobs

Host Maria Hinojosa talks with former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm about efforts to rebuild her state’s economy in the midst of the fiscal crisis.

In Perspective: Marcos Villatoro on the changing American garage sale

A Salvadoran-American writer, teacher and filmmaker who lives in a hardscrabble Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles explains how the American garage sale has changed because of these harsh economic times.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.



  • Dlhopper

    The State of Michigan and the Michigan town should have given Electrolux $ 50 million to continue building refrigerators in the state.  Every household in American has a refrigerator but only 10-15% of the households will be able to afford solar energy.

  • Anonymous

    Green economy? Bull. It’s a subsidy for businesses that can’t compete fairly, & a sham. Terrestrial solar cannot power a modern economy, & the dreams of the green Nazis don’t make it true. Not to mention the fact putting thousands of acres into permanent shadow is NOT “environmentally friendly”, contrary to the fiction. Want genuinely green solar power? Support solar power satellites. It will create thousands of high-wage, high-value jobs. It will generate power at enormously reduced cost, which enormously increases productivity. It DOES NOT put territory into permanent shadow. And, most important, it offers opportunities to MOVE INDUSTRY OUT OF THE BIOSPHERE, which, presumably, the green Nazis want. (When they’re not busy deluding themselves, & lying to the rest of us, about how lower standards of living for us will help the Third World, which it won’t. Not to mention the one thing, the ONLY thing, PROVEN to reduce population growth is the one thing the greens are most fiercely opposed to: HIGHER STANDARDS OF LIVING.)

    BTW, the power satellites can also offer higher standards of living to Africa & India, & reduce deforestation, too, by enabling them to substitute methanol for wood. Except the greens are so busy trying to kill off anything like new technology (except when it serves their agenda), & busy trying to kill any space flight at all… At the same time, the fusion lobby is sucking up billions, as they have been for decades, & promising working reactors “in 20 years”…which they’ve been doing for, oh, 40 years, now… For a fraction of the amount of money the fusion lobby has gotten, WE COULD HAVE WORKING POWER SATELLITES BY NOW. It’s possible to build & fly them WITH EXISTING TECHNOLOGY, RIGHT NOW. If you really want to create “green jobs”, POWER SATELLITES. If you want to condemn Mankind to stagnation & destruction, terrestrial solar, wind, & “smaller is better”.

    Your choice.

  • Anonymous

    Good show.  Nice to see Maria back in front of the camera.  I miss her (and David B.) from “Now.”

    Looks to me like the Unisolar venture hasn’t worked out because of a combination of China’s aggressive entry into the solar market (and especially their super-cheap labor) and the Great Recession.

    No doubt some proponents of the green economy have overstated its near-term potential but the fact remains that if we want to continue to inhabit this planet, we’re going to have to change the way we live, and do it in a big way.  This goes far beyond how we produce energy:  it includes designing our homes to be more smaller and more efficient; learning to produce products that have a much smaller ecological footprint (currently, the end products we purchase represent on 1.5% of the materials that were used during the production process), are much more recyclable, and basically planning for the entire cradle-to-cradle product lifecycle; changing the way use our public and private outdoor spaces (e.g., moving away from grass monocultures supported by toxic or algae-bloom-causing chemicals; jettisoning so-called ‘green revolution’ Ag and embracing organic Ag, as well as a much better national diet; transitioning from the car economy to sensible public transportation and cycle-and-pedestrian-friendly cities; etc.  Making these changes will probably create net jobs, at least in the short term, but we need to make them regardless. 

    If we end up with less jobs, the obvious solution is to embrace job sharing, which is being used very successfully in Europe.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind trading a little money for more time and a nation less burdened by poverty and disease.

  • Craig

    Refrigerator compressors are the main component for home refueling stations for vehicles that have been converted to using natural gas.  Re-task the old Electrolux plant.

  • AdamSmith

    Governor Granholm is right. Check out the CNN list of  the 46 Chinese Fortune 500 Companies; 41 are S.O.E’s. China, unlike us, knows WEALTH CREATION (see Adam Smith), especially manufacturing and mining, creates a middle class, and so wisely flaunts The WTO to do it. Republicrats in The U.S. expound glowingly the virtues of capitalism, ignorant, apparently, of GM’s involvement with F.A.W., S.A.I.C,(S.O.E’s) etc , G.E’s partnership with China Aviation,(S.O.E.), and even Texas’  purchase of Suntech-Huadian (S.O.E.) solar panels. Global companies LOVE government, just not democratic government.