Beyond the Stimulus Package March 19, 2009

Adapted from March 19. 2009 broadcast from Northeast Public Radio.
WAMC Audio for Beyond the Stimulus Package

Dr. Steven A. Leibo is director of the Sage Colleges Program in International & Globalization Studies

“Beyond the Stimulus Package”

I don’t know about you but I’m finding it awfully depressing lately. It’s not just watching the global economic meltdown and worrying about my own family’s financial future. But simply the effort to find some key to retaining a decent sense of mental health –
to finesse a way to avoid being dragged down by all the lousy economic news.

Sure, there is some light out there. I am deeply relieved that the Hooverite Republican Party — with their naive ideological faith that corporations alone, if appropriately unfettered can dig us out of this economic meltdown, are no longer in power.

Delighted that the Democratic Party with its greater willingness to creatively use the power of government – it’s recognition that only the government can do the heavy financial lifting needed to dig us out of this mess is running this effort to regain our economic health.

But I am not immune to deep apprehension associated with all the new national debt we are taking on – Pouring good money after bad, into fragile banks

I am deeply nervous about sending off billions to car companies that may or not make it – worried about putting my children’s financial future so deeply in debt as their government builds up unimaginable generational deficits.

And nervous that economists I respect, noble prize winners like Paul Krugman keep insisting that the stimulus package however necessary is not big enough to build the momentum we need to get out of this mess.

Which is why I am also so relieved that much of this economic stimulus package was designed with a dual purpose in mind, In the short term to immediately get the arteries of our economy flowing again and in the long term, even more importantly, Creatively structured to move us more easily into the future.

Now that’s something I can relate to, Which is why every time I hear about my hard earned taxes going out to pay bonuses for incompetent financial managers like those at AIG. I just take a breath and remind myself that America. As one of the first nations to industrialize retains today an incredible range of increasingly obsolete and potentially dangerous infrastructure systems in place

And I calmly recall that while much of America has water treatment systems – often dating to the era of Teddy Roosevelt.

Our new President, Barack Obama, has appropriately allocated billions of dollars to commence repairs on our disastrously aging water infrastructure systems. Something we needed to do economic down turn or not.

Which is why every time I hear about money going to Detroit

The same Detroit that refused to recognize the need to promote and sell smaller more fuel efficient cars, an incredibly short sighted decision that has brought them to the brink of financial ruin and kept our nation addicted to oil regimes that hate us.

I pause and remind myself that president Obama’s stimulus package includes scores of billions of dollars to enhance our pubic transpiration system and to promote energy efficiencies. And billions more to move us to a more independent green energy future

Something we needed to do stimulus or not. No, when I get really depressed that my tax money is going out – as so many have pointed out on far too many purely political pork projects with few immediate economic advantages.

I force myself to reflect on the reality that a huge percentage of our exploding medical costs stem from an absurdly obsolete medical record system that President Obama wants to computerize. An effort that will eventually gaining for America significant economic advantages as we move toward an affordable system of universal health care

so, I suppose I might not know if this trillion dollar stimulus is going to work. Might not know whether it will pull us out of this deepening recession any faster than we might otherwise have emerged. But at least I can remind myself of that one apparent certainty. That we will emerge far more ready for the 21st century than we might otherwise have done.

It the only thought that helps me sleep.

About Steven Leibo

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