Monday, February 9, 2009

Future Shock

I'm not sure if they get it.

The debate over the economic stimulus package is ideological. Most economists say that we need massive, sweeping and deep intervention in the American economy from the American government. What I remember quite specifically from freshmen year econ: To spend is to beget demand which increases supply which begets production which begets jobs that beget growth in the economy for many generations to come. Amen. To quote the President, "That's the point."

What is the point of government if it's not there to intervene at time of crisis?

The ideologues of the conservative movement is still singing the gospel of Reaganism. The revisionist version.

Last night's press conference was crucial. My mom is a pharmacist tech in Wisconsin. She's not the most sophisticated American when it comes to charts, Keynesian Economics, derivatives and the ilk, but what she said to me over phone was that she likes that Obama takes the time to explain things. The President's campaign to market the stimulus package to the public seemed to work from what I was hearing on the other end of the phone.

The other significant point from the President that seems to be buried underneath chatter of post partisanship, spending, stimulus, Keynesian, is infrastructure. I highlighted the point for my mother. "There are a string of events that occurred over the past 8 years that haven't necessarily been connected in an obvious way," I said to her. "We treat them as separate events. Katrina and the levee failure in New Orleans, the Mississippi River Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the episodes of train derailments on the east coast, the 2003 blackout, the rolling blackouts in California, the drought conditions last year in Atlanta... I could go on. Infrastructure is critical. Nationally, we haven't invested in these areas in years. If we expect to move forward into the 21st century, we need to modernize."

On the other end of the phone, I could imagine my mother's face. A startled look of comprehension and a frown, "Well, when you put it like that, that makes a lot of sense. You writing about that yet?"

Sort of, I said.

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