Van Jones

Van Jones is well-known in the Bay Area for founding several locally based social justice and environmental groups. He rose to national fame through his work on green jobs, which took him all the way to Washington. Now he has written a book about his time in the Obama administration.

Van Jones joins us to discuss “Rebuild the Dream,” a memoir and a call to action around his latest passions: student debt and foreclosures.

Van Jones, co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, former adviser on green jobs to the Obama administration and founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

  • Parker

    I’d like to know whether Van Jones has come over to the view yet, that 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslim bogeymen, and that the Twin Towers and WTC building 7, which all collapsed at free-fall speed, were brought down by fires despite looking extraordinarily like controlled demolitions, complete with demolition “squibs” and steel girders flying off the Twin Towers at 60 mph horizontally. I’d also like to know whether he has come around to the view that the 150 foot wide airplane that hit the Pentagon can easily fit into a 30 foot wide hole because, as you know, Bush’s government told us it did and therefore it’s the truth, even though nobody trusted Bush or Cheney when it came to anything else.

    • TheyMightBeGiants

      Wrong interview, Parker…although intriguing…non-sequitar comments like the one you’ve just made, no matter how well researched, nullify the credibility of your own agenda…

      • Pikachu

         I concur it’s off-topic, but I don’t think that “nullifies” anything. I googled some of Parker’s keywords and found this fascinating video that explains why Muslims didn’t do 9/11. You need to think like a scientist, respectful of data, not like a peasant who is easily swayed by spin.

  • Anonymous

    The cutting of government entitlements and services is not about patriotism, it is about economics.  It is highly ironic that a guy like Van Jones would paint this with a patriotic brush.

    Van Jones is a naive moron

    • Pikachu

      Everyone is doing that across the globe. This comes down from very high, above the level of governments. It’s the criminal 1% and their bankers who are behind the austerity theatrics.

  • Eric

    Just once I’d like to hear Mr. Jones’ thoughts about the role of out of wedlock births, gang violence, drugs, and rampant criminality that has ravaged inner city neighborhoods in Oakland, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.  I understand the appeal of “Green Jobs” but I don’t see how those kinds of communities will ever make economic progress until they resolve some of their underlying cultural problems—doesn’t Mr. Jones have SOMETHING to say about this?. 

  • Ryan

    Van Junk needs to get his facts straight.

    UC Berkeley is NOT more expensive than Harvard.  

    Also, why doesn’t Michael Krasny mention that Van Junk was forced to RESIGN instead of continually mentioning he spent six months in Washington.  There is a reason he only spent six months there.

    • Kay

      “Going to school at Harvard University is cheaper than attending a public university in California.”  Huffington post article on this:

      Van was referring the comparable cost of attendance for low-income and middle class students. Harvard and Yale have financial aid systems in place to better support those students and their families financially, whereas the UCs and CSUs do not. Just looking at tuition alone, UC Berkeley is less expensive, but once financial aid comes in for low-income and middle class families, it’s not.

      • KH

        The problem is that he didn’t state the facts correctly. He just made the comparison without any qualifiers, just as bad as the right wing folks he was criticizing. He should also state that 1/3 of all UC tuition dollars is returned back for student aid. Finally, if Harvard is so cheap, why do UCs like Berkeley crush them in the number of under represented minority students and Pell grant recipients actually ATTENDING the institution? The real issue in the proposed increase in student loan rates, and the pending next “crisis” of student debt. Can you imagine a country where a whole generation can’t afford to buy a car or house because of student load debt that in NOT forgivable via bankruptcy. You can thank for profit “colleges” selling hope for our next crisis. 

    • anonymous

       yeah he was effectively lynched by the right wing media

  • Guest

    The failure of Solydra also show there is no guarantee that American employers will success in Green market place.  They also cannot be expected to create high paying middle class jobs while competing against cheap Chinese labor.  Already many infrastructure projects including high speed train projects are sourcing from foreign countries.  While the green jobs program may be the right thing to do, may be overrated in its potential.

  • George

    Please ask Van about how to address financial tools such as social impact bonds to fund the green redevelopment of our run down built environment to create more locally based green job training, economic multiplier of recycling local investment and creating healthier environments for our families

  • The President has been a disappointment.  He couldn’t even get people who need health care the most to show up at community town hall meetings.  He forfeited the battle to Tea Party extremists.  

  • As long as the Electoral College exists accompanied by a polarized two party system Americans are obsolete in elections. The only election or change we evoke is through spending dollars. Ask Van if “the Dream” should be rebuilt or if  a new “Dream” that has the capacity to evolve with the citizinery, not corporations, would be more appropriate.

  • Kate from San Francisco

    From a movement perspective, how can we best put pressure on banks, lenders and their government agents to free millions of young people from student loan debt-slavery?  I’m so grateful for the policy reforms Rebuild the Dream has been working on, but how can we go deeper to reverse this devastating social problem?

  • Poway

    I agree we need to address the principal issue of reducing the principal of mortgages that were fueled by the banks so please address how you will also help the mortgage holders who have played by the rules purchased at the height of the market and barely making it.

  • pomansgraphix

    Van Jones is talking about the social contract (or lack thereof).  My high school civics teacher used about this being under attack back in the Regan years.  I don’t think this has changed in 30 years.  The problem is that there are a significant number of people which believe (or doesn’t understand) that the government has a signifigant role beyond defense.  In today’s rehtoric ANY government involvement is constrictive.  It’s simply not true.  The GI bill, Federal highway program, WPA works, etc (just the glaringly obvious here).

    • Pikachu

       Their belief system is derived from Milton Friedman, who said even the roads should be privatized. Imagine paying $5 just to drive to the market, on pain of being arrested or shot. That’s the ideology who Friedman, whose protege Pinochet literally threw leftists out of airplanes in order to murder them.

  • Dwsrandolph

    Mr. Jones you are an exceptionally refreshing and inspiring voice. Given California’s power, change in this State can tip the balance for the nation.  Little change seems possible with our 2/3 majority requirement for raising revenues, granting veto power to the super rich and their fellow travelers.  Do you have any plans to restore democracy to California and launch a proposition campaign to undue the minority veto power strangling our government?

  • Kate from San Francisco

    Van, will you join us in San Francisco on April 23rd and 24th to Occupy the Wells Fargo Shareholders’ meeting and confront the institution that has driven the housing crisis and the student loan crisis?

  • rockhugger

    yeah.. green movement is a bit white. I’m active and there are still times ppl automatically mentally associate me with china when they first meet me(I’m Asian though speak with no accent)
    If you go anywhere in the world you’ll find ppl actively involved in the movement.
    it’s an interesting rift and relationship btw green movement, china, etc. though green movement is one of the very few ideology that’s not based on race and nations and should be embraced by all, which it is. but b/c of our problem with china. greenmovement in this country has ambivalent and at times hostile attitude toward china which unfortunately spills over to the Asian living here in the states.

  • Poscar415

    The irony is inescapable of this program airing at the exact time that legislation requiring mortgage companies to stop foreclosure proceedings while homeowners are negotiating loan modifications is being squelched in Sacramento. Thank you for your persistence in organizing & fighting, Van, though often it seems that all our best efforts are a garden hose dripping water in the face of a blazing forrest fire of greed and lack of compassion.

  • I don’t know what they put in the water in DC, but this was a long litany of inaccuracies that are common from left-wing politicians. (The right-wing politicians have a different list)

    First, there is the ridiculous double-speak regarding subsidies. When the US government guarantees a loan to a green company or provides cheap financing through the Import-Export Bank to US companies, that’s strategic, a way to create jobs and a smart idea. When the Chinese do the same, it suddenly becomes unfair trade practices.

    Then there is possibly my favorite line about successful people in America owing the government more in taxes because they supposedly benefited so much from governmental largess. He made it sound as though our taxes are going towards things such as education, building roads (and other infrastructures) and the development of things such as the Internet.

    First, I want to dismiss the ridiculous claim that the government created the Internet. DARPA funded the improvement of packet-switching technologies. The Internet is the gigantic network of networks that was built by (mostly) private companies across the globe by digging trenches, laying cables on the ocean floor and building data-centers. Without DARPA, we would have a slightly different protocol governing how that system functions. Without that network of networks, we would have a piece of paper describing a nice theoretical idea.

    But most importantly, I think it’s important people remember where their taxes are going. I’m going to assume we are talking about Federal taxes since that’s the most common topic of discussion by former White House advisers. His characterization is of course false. Infrastructure and education spending are a very small portion of federal expenditures. For 2012, the Department of Education spending gets 5% of Federal expenditures and the Department of Transportation gets 1% of Federal expenditures. So our Federal taxes are most definitely not primarily spent on education and roads. They primarily go toward Social Security, Medicare and Defense. The argument that people who succeed owe a debt greater than what they pay today is absurd on its face.

    • Richard Seyman

      Not at all.  The entire conquest of the continent and the regime of slave labor which contributed to the overall society and infrastructure and leisure time that made it possible for those “private” innovators to even exist, let alone, function so intensely and prosper would have been entirely impossible without government.   Tax the hell out of Apple and as long as you tax the hell out of its competitors, it has no excuse for not doing what it likes to do best.   It is your counter argument that is entirely ignorant of history and the work of the millions who make your extremely rare and fragile lifestyle possible.   Do you believe Apple has “improved people’s lives because they really like it and need it?  Same can be said for the tobacco from the point of view of its users or crack cocaine for that matter.  You’re so full of your extremely narrow, naive
       smugness, it’s disgusting.  

      • Wait, are you seriously arguing that my taxes are payment to the government for the the bang-up job it did maintaining slavery and murdering the native americans? Well, that made taxes seem so much more legitimate now.

        But even if past governmental action is what we have to thank for our current prosperity, past generations of tax-payers have already paid for it or passed it on as debt. Either way, the biggest federal budget items: social security, medicare and the vast majority of defense spending do not contribute much to our prosperity.

        Believe me, I am quite aware of the millions of individuals who have acted to make my life as prosperous and wonderful as it is. I am also aware of the fact that the vast majority of them did it in exchange for payment which was percolated all the way back to me.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor