Sunday, February 08, 2009

Why is the U.S. approach to stimulus so utterly retarded?

Stimulating the economy is not as complicated as everyone would have you believe. Here's my simple 4-step approach. I'm not saying this list is comprehensive, but it blows my mind that these aren't at the top of everyone's list.
  • Step 1. Forgive all Federally-Backed Student Loans. Sure, it's expensive, but if you're on-board for almost a trillion in deficit spending, why not? About 50% of college students graduate with student loan debt, at an average of $10,000 per student. I know plenty of people in my life with monthly payments over $500 per month. That's a couple of car payments. My generation is heading into the workforce with unprecedented personal debt. Forgiving the "good debt" of educational loans will help get responsible grads off to a healthy start in an already troublesome job market.
  • Step 2. High Speed Rail/Commuter Light Rail. I'm all for better roads and bridges, but the real infrastructure overhaul America needs is a new commitment to rail. Americans need to be weened from their over-dependence on automobiles. A rail revolution will reduce our reliance on foreign oil, reduce CO2 emissions, employ millions, and ultimately save Americans money (while making them more productive). Okay, that won't help autoworkers, but let GM build trains instead.
  • Step 3. Pay Teachers What We Pay Congressman & Employ More Of Them. We are in the midst of an educational crisis in America, and one of the biggest problems we face is a shortage of skilled and gifted teachers (meanwhile, we continue to layoff the great teachers we do have while closing more of our schools. Make teaching a prestigious, competitive industry with high standards and high rewards. Not only will we improve education, we'll create more high income jobs.
  • Step 4. Fund Universal Healthcare. I don't go to the doctor because I can't afford it. If everyone could afford preventative healthcare, we'd save money on treatment, while supporting the growth of the medical industry. A healthy populous is a happy populous, and money we aren't hording for that possible medical emergency is money we're spending as consumers, stimulating the economy. Plus, I'm willing to bet that passage of universal healthcare would lead to a middle-class baby boom in America, and a growing middle-class tends to be good for the economy.


  1. Forgiving the federal student loan debt is a good idea. There should be a periodic time of jubilee, and now is one of those times.

    I would add that the banks ought to forgive private student loans as well, as the banks are receiving forgiveness from the taxpayers.

    It doesn't make sense for the banks to get payed once by the government and still have the right to collect private student loan debt until the borrower dies.


  2. I vote for your stimulus bill!

  3. Derek the evil capitalist2/10/2009 11:25 AM

    Why forgive student loans? Lower payments yes, but forgive them... no way. you could have gone to a community college and cut your bill in half. I agree to give relief in the form of lower payments or a year or two of no payments to give you time to get a job that pays.

    High speed rail? sounds good, but people love their cars and don't want to be on a train with weirdo's. idealistic and not ever going to happen. It would create jobs though.

    Teachers should get more, but it is supply and demand. there are plenty of teachers out there and thus that dictates the low salary. However, teacher pensions are phenomenal so, don't feel too sorry for them. Also, if you take all the federal,state and local money put into education it works out to 17,000 per student. naysayers use the 10,318 figure.My kids private school operates on 5,000 per student, If they got 10,318, the teachers salary would be doubled. The problem is how it is spent and the government. If you turn education over to the private sector, teachers WILL get more and schools will be better. The government can't run anything except the military and even there it is debatable.

    Universal health care is OK, but the government cant run VA hospitals let alone nationalizing health care. Aside from we are broke as a country, the unintended ramifications of Universal health care is scary. In Great Britain, universal health care is fine except if you are overweight, smoke or drink. same will happen here. I am all for it,unhealthy lifestyles should be punished, but the ACLU will be in hysteria. And 50% of the country is obese and wont qualify. The problem with government is that if they pay, it is their rules, and rightfully so. It will actually make things worse!

    I do find it amusing that the four things you listed directly benefit you! You have student loans, you are a teacher, you have health issues and you are a star wars guy who also is big on the "climate change" thing. If you were a business owner who made things for the auto industry, you would be pushing tax cuts, union restrictions and less government.

    The big question is this: would you scrap all the green programs to focus on heath care? because that is a realistic approach to getting medical care for everyone.

    Also, if the national debt is owed to the taxpayers, why not wipe out all mortgages and raise property taxes a little. Since we are nationalizing the banks, why not do this? We would wipe out our deficit and now people would have no mortgage payment. That would stimulate the economy!Plus the taxes would fund other programs.

    By the way the only way the government can create jobs is with new agencies or increasing the military,IRS or postal service. All bad ideas.

  4. I'm not sure what Star Wars has to do with it?!?!

    I'm for these proposals because I believe in a just society, and we do not live in a just society when children born into rich homes receive better education and health care that children born into poor homes. You do not choose your parents' wealth, and I strongly believe that every child deserves equal footing. Then and only then can we ever truly test the tenets of capitalism. As long as the vast majority of Americans are disadvantaged to a super-rich minority, capitalism will continue to do what it has done: fail miserably.

    As for student loans, it is the only kind of debt that cannot be washed away by bankruptcy. Also, no community college degree is competitive with an expensive state or private university degree, so quit comparing apples to oranges.

    Finally, let's assume the public school system spends $17,000 per child. If this is true, I don't know where it is being spent. I've been to a number of public schools, and it isn't going to the children. School buildings are crumbling, classes are overcrowded, essential electives like art and music have been cut all together.

    Privatization of the school system is no more the answer than privatization of social security (if Bush had gotten his way on that, SS would be bankrupted by today's market). Capitalism excels at creating adequate products for a cheap price. If you love shopping at Wal-Mart, then by all means, your proposal is brilliant, because all of our kids will be attending the Wal-Mart of private schools.

    Many public schools excel. Some states have excellent public schools. Florida is ridiculous.

  5. Derek the evil advocate..2/11/2009 3:57 PM

    We are geeks(star wars,star trek), so we like the monorail things!

    Do you want communism? if so, nothing really wrong with it, just say that is what you want. Of course I will say it is wrong. Especially if the ruling party running the communism has different priorities and ideas of what equal is. The Haves and have nots are always going to be around no matter what system you try. We have discussed this, you have lazy people and hard workers. And if I work hard and make a lot of money I should be able to give my kids every advantage and be ahead of the lazy guy. No one is stopping the lower income people from starting their own business and trying to better themselves. And I say they have an advantage over me, If I were black or female I would be able to get grants and loans to start a business. I am doing it myself. Everyone can get a good education, but is it a priority for the people receiving the "lesser education"? If it was they could move or drive to a better school. The fact is, Education is important for very few and they seem to be doing well. So this is an individuals parenting issue. Do you want to legislate parenting? (we sure know some who could use it!)

    BTW Community college for 2 years and then 2 years at the private school is the same degree 1/2 the price. And you chose to go to the private school, so you should pay. It was important for you and it cost you. The reason you go to the more expensive school is to get better jobs and pay. You should pay for that! don't pay and your credit gets affected. your choice. If you went to school for business and became a Mortgage broker 4 years ago, you would have paid your loan back. I made bad business decisions and I paid for it. I am not asking the government to give me my cash back.

    All of your view points, to me, are very idealistic. They have 100% valor and I agree 99% in theory. However, utopia or equality are never going to happen in reality. You and Kelley were raised by the same parents and same opportunities. How come you are not equal? Also, you and your wife work and have no kids, it is easy to be idealistic. I was until I had kids. Why don't you get a foster kid and make a difference now? 1 person at a time. THAT IS real and obtainable. Actions not words!

    As for the school money... EXACTLY! Where does it go? No accountability and when the government runs it, waste and too many middlemen and grifting happens. You can't fix it because that union helps you get elected. The unions and school boards waste soooo much money! I know for a fact that a school was built in Sebastian on land that cost the School system 2.4 million. It was 650,000 5 months before the school bought it. The head of the school board is friends with the land owner. Thats America and that is life, especially in government. The dems do it and the rep do it.

    Privatization with oversight is the way to go. That is a charter school. I think schools should be specialized too. Because someone is a plumber and some one is rocket scientist. No one is equal so you cant teach everyone equal.

    Things always start off good, but then change on you. What if the government says that the Arts have no place and that you should pick up a shovel and help build the rail system? Are you OK with that? Because that is what happens with communism or socialism. Capitalism is not perfect, but you are free to do want you want. Even if you choose a field that doesn't pay well. We will see how things turn out. I think bail outs are wrong and bad business should fail. Left, Right, its all the same and they just get richer. We are just jealous were not in on it!:)

  6. Okay. Yes. It is true I think monorails are cool I'm part because as a child I thought EPCOT really was the community of tomorrow.

    I don't want pure communism, but I don't want Darwinian economics either (and I can't for the life of me figure out how one can embrace capitalism without embracing evolution, but that's another conversation). There will always be deadbeats. What shall we do with them? Execute them? Leave them to die on our street corners? Turn them into soylient green?

    I may be idealistic, but I also believe my ideals are pragmatic. Our economy is global, and the more competetive our national workforce, the stronger our nation. Again, children do not choose their parents. As long as only our most privileged children excel, our nation will weaken.

  7. Kill em all and lets eat...2/12/2009 2:08 PM

    The problem is you cannot legislate parenting! The right would say yes and thus solve a lot of issues. I am a logical person and realist and that tends to put me at odds with progressive thinking. Also, we don't have capitalism really. We have a pseudo capitalist society.

    It is your right to be a deadbeat or scumbag, but you should have consequences. Morality and decency are after thoughts nowadays and we are all reaping the fall out. In the 50's if you were a bum, the local community would take care of you. If you were an ass you would be ostracized. Execute them? No. But conform or be cast out. What your heart and ideals tell you is wrong! And to illustrate it I will use a mom of four whose parents always bailed them out and thus actually hurt her in the long run. The parents thought "we have to help" or "we can't let her be homeless or go hungry". They "had to help". Wrong. If no one helped her, reality would have set in and she would actually have to work 40 hours a week and be responsible. What you propose is the government be the parents and the irresponsible get a pass. Unless you are willing to go to the next level of regulating parenting and applications for being allowed to have kids, you will never solve the problems.

    The most privileged don't always excel, the parents who emphasize education and hard work do. The "underprivileged" can do this and some do. Are you willing to stop blaming wealth and recognize that the poor can rise up? It is just a question of the parents commitment to education, not the system. Again, I am all for regulating parents!

    Your heart is in the right place, but you have to spank people now and then. IT IS THE ONLY WAY.

    Soylent Green.....Hilarious!