Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Questions and comments

Re: Obama's stimulus

--It shouldn't be called a 'stimulus.' It should be called a government spending program, and conceptualized as a significant shift in the distribution of the country's wealth.

--I liked the first picture of the plan I saw, as laid out in the WSJ on January 15th. A lot of money to states, education, and infrastructure. To me it looks like a distribution of wealth in the direction that the American economy needs to re-balance things. The goals should be to push capital toward productive rather than merely financial activities, and create a viable middle-class of consumers.

--A slightly worse plan than this first one will finally get passed. The Republicans are playing politics rather than giving good-faith arguments about the future of America. But probably we're all doing that, more or less.

--We should pay for the spending program with a repeal of the Bush tax cuts, with the compromise to transition back to the Bush tax cuts within six to ten years, after necessary stabilization happens.

--Short of such new tax revenues, get ready for extremely high interest rates. The government remarkably resembles a broke entity, even though we all know it runs the world's printing presses.

--This contradiction interests me. If, by the design of the system, we have all the money we need at our fingertips, why do American banks, American consumers, and the American government appear to be broke?

--Does the world live by new rules? Does our liquidity crisis mark the end of the old system?

--How can we learn a new system, when we've barely begun to understand the old one?

--Or is the American consumer still king as soon as the world recession turns around?

If so, the old system remains. If not we live in a brave, new world of consumption, in which we are no longer the king, but a powerful entity among others.

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