Sunday, February 8, 2009

What should we make of the Stimulus?

This week's issue of Milwaukee's Shepard Express has a very fine article in favor of the stimulus:

It argues for the basic liberal position on this stimulus and attempts to refute various conservative/Republican objections to it. The real advantage of the article is its refutation of various misconceptions ("myths") about the stimulus package. A fine read.

The issue is more complicated than most of us would Like to admit. I had a good conversation on this matter with my friend Nate last night on this matter.

Nate, arguing on Distrubitivist grounds, opposed the stimulus saying that it is merely an attempt to preserve a fundamentally unjust system in which a few elites control the wealth and the means of production and reduce the rest of us to wage slavery.

The system, Nate argued, is fundamentally unjust and must be left to fall.

I agree that the system is unjust. The few make obscene profits and control the rest of us by molding us into their wage laborers and consumers. But I don't think letting the system fall will change things, I suspect it will make it worse and plunge us deeper into a robber baron nightmare.

We do need to change our system radically - In particular I would like to see far FAR more support for small/local businesses - , but in the meantime, we must put people to work. Tax cuts will accomplish little if nothing, spending will create jobs.

By all means let us continue to oppose the system and campaign for change, but let's also stop the current bleeding.


  1. Very concise and well thought out article. I still have some concerns about the bill. The biggest is the "Buy American" clause that would force gov't contractors to buy American materials. This could easily bring about a Smoot-Hawley Situation like in the 30's.

    In short, if the US embraces protectionism it is very likely that many other countries could counter with retaliatory measures. This would stifle the already trickling capital flow that is keeping the world economy afloat. It is understandable why politicians would want to help American companies, but the long-term consequences could be devastating.

  2. Hi Tony,

    I too have some problems with the Bill. I agree with the Republicans that some programs don't directly create jobs and might be counterproductive. Though only some. Still, the main Republican push for tax cuts and elimination of programs not likely to create jobs has something to it - though far less than they suppose.

    I also agree with those like Paul Krugman who advocate far greater spending - particularly on Infrastructure and public transportation.

    I think you are probably on to something with that "Buy American" claus. I believe that is not going to be part of the bill that is actually passed, which should relieve us a little.

    I suppose the logic behind it is to force American companies to employ Americans rather than go over seas for cheaper labor. In itself that is a very good thing, but I'm skeptical that the clause will actually accomplish this.

    Rather, big "American companies" will still employ cheap foreign labor but be given more business for it

    In the end I am for the stimulus. I’m the son and grandson of New Deal style, LBJ war on poverty type, Democrats and that might explain it! But I think only spending can create jobs, so spend we must

  3. My dad is a part of the Liberal Academic Conspiracy so I also must support the stimulus.

    Tax cuts only work if people will actually spend them. Right now people will most likely shove the money under a mattress somewhere which doesn't really help anybody.

    The bill is of course not perfect, and there are liberal pet projects in it (which I have mixed feelings about) but despite republican opposition, its about 60/40 spending to tax cuts which is not a bad compromise considering the dems hold both houses and the presidency.

  4. Well, I don't mind it being 60/40, that's bearable. But I wish there were a great deal more spending in this bill. For instance, there is a scant 30 billion for infrastructure, whereas most economists think it ought to be more like 300 billion. And there is not enough health care reform money in the bill.

    Perhaps it is the best that we can expect? Or maybe more can be done later? But it's still too little.


Comments from many different points of view are welcome. But I will not publish any comments that are hateful, insulting, or filled with profanity. I welcome and encourage dialogue and disagreement but will not publish any hate speech.