Sunday, September 23, 2012

Screaming Into the Economic Void

I'm glad I'm not the only one...

The nation doesn’t actually face difficult economic choices. Many problems will be expensive to solve, yet we can solve them without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. 
Disrupting the status quo won’t appeal to many lobbyists and some ideologues. But bear with me. These remedies rest on solid evidence and common sense. 
Let’s begin with unemployment. Millions of Americans remain out of work only because employers can already produce more than enough to meet depressed demand. The obvious remedy is to increase total spending. Although economic stimulus has become a controversial topic in the abstract, a few simple observations should persuade every sensible legislator — perhaps even a majority! — to support a specific type of higher spending: accelerated refurbishment of our crumbling infrastructure. 
Some in Congress have consistently opposed the president’s infrastructure proposals, citing the huge national debt. But that’s an incoherent objection. If repairs to the Capitol dome or a tattered stretch of interstate highway are postponed, they will just become more costly. Many job seekers have the skills for this work. If we wait, we’ll have to bid them away from other tasks. The required materials are cheaper now than they will ever be. And interest rates are at record lows.
We should be spending like drunken sailors on shore leave in Shanghai.  The cost of money is zero and the number of idle workers is vast.  Why are we fretting needlessly over the debt and deficit that will, ultimately self-correct as GDP grows?

1 comment:

  1. This is so. Yet, I do believe the government needs to devise a plan for more than just infrastructure. Along with infrastructure we need to expand our creative capacity as well by engaging visual artists, performing artists, writers, urban designers, academics, urban farmers, etc. with government works programs. Programs that scale our economy from global and exploitative to local and sustainable. But we should be thinking big at the same time as in scientific research and exploration....there was a time in this country when thinking bold and big wasn’t controversial.