Aug 27, 2010

Provoked, but not stimulated.

When we're not busy discussing mosques, terrorists and Sarah Palin's tweets, we should be talking about the economy and the budget.

Fears of a double-dip recession may come true as some Americans amplify their calls for budget cuts.

Is a recession any time to slash the federal budget? Has the US ever emerged from recession while reducing the budget?

Does anyone have any idea of the link between government spending and the health of our economy?

I'm now convinced that it is impossible for any clear conversation to be had regarding government spending and the deficit. All I end up hearing are wild veerings from Socialist Obama to B-B-B-Bush.

Yes, there is a problem with the American economy and the stimulus package as designed did not work.

Remember, though, that is our problem to work out - together. We are all Americans. Barack Obama is the President of all Americans, not just Democrats, and to say otherwise is treasonous. I don't care what other people said when Bush was here, I don't care about tit-for-tat. If we have to rehash every decision made in the history of the US to come up with someone to blame, we will never get anywhere.

It's time for all Americans to stop playing gotcha while our country crumbles around us.

Look. Some parents had to bring toilet paper to their kid's school when they started this year. Nothing says "superpower" to the world like your public schools not being able to pay for toilet paper.

Taxes are necessary for the government to exist. If you want to starve government until it dies on its own so you can keep more of your hard earned money, there are plenty of places in Africa where that situation exists - you are welcome to move there. If you are unwilling to do that, please stop ranting and railing about how the government steals your money.

It is only because of the government's protections that you are able to hold a job and make this money that is so sacred to you and its time to acknowledge that the people who make the most in our society benefit the most from the services of the government. Those benefits include the regular daily use things everyone gets (police protection, roads, etc.), but also the intangible benefits such as an educated workforce (produced by public education) and the research done at public universities.

There is not a person in the United States that can say they have earned everything on their own with no help from the government - not a single person. To make such a claim is to lie to yourself and to others and create a fantasy world where the aforementioned "no government" scenario actually works.

The flip side of that acknowledgement is that the money collected in taxes isn't a never ending fountain. There must be restraint in spending, but that cannot come all at once, and they can't come in easy ways. You can't wipe Social Security out tomorrow without literally stealing money from the people who have paid into it their whole lives. Reforms and modifications are completely rational approaches to large blocks of spending.

You also can't declare that defense spending is off-limits to cuts and expect to make any savings. Can you honestly look at the amount of money spent on defense and claim that it is good and right and justifiable? If you think you can, have you looked at how much the rest of the world spends on defense to compare?

Finally, I don't think it is fair to look at the stimulus as a complete failure. Yes, it was pitched as a job creation package, but in reality it was a realignment package. It was a life-preserver for our banking industry.

Thank goodness they did not let the banking industry collapse. Arguing that the United States would be better without its major banks is like arguing that New Orleans was better in the days after Katrina. Madness.

Bailing out the American auto industry, on the other hand, was a major failure of the stimulus bills. Why save an industry that is doomed anyway? What a waste of money and time!

Our economy is not going to be the same as it was before.

The United States isn't going to be a center of global manufacturing, the population numbers just aren't there. If the gulfs of open space in this country are bridged by better infrastructure a stronger manufacturing base might be formed, but that is a big and expensive 'if'. We will not build cars, electronics, computers and furniture at the scale and efficiency of a power like China.

We can be the country that develops the new cars, the new electronics, the new computers. We can be the innovators. That is what the stimulus should have been about. New technology and new infrastructure. Workers can always re-educate, re-tool and re-task.

If we really want to stimulate our economy, a second stimulus is needed, directed solely at building infrastructure, clean energy initiatives and better public education.

Let's make an investment that every rational American will agree is worthy of our tax dollars.

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