Monday, February 2, 2009

Stimulus, or no

Over the weekend, I received an email from a group urging me to contact my congressional representatives, asking them to vote against the stimulus package. How I got on this particular group's email listserv is beyond me, since I'm a registered independent, and no longer run the partisan political circuit.

Regardless of where one's political bread gets buttered, the economic reality for many in the U.S. is that things are bad, and they anticipate it could get worse. Given that scenario, the political posturing taking place on both sides, frankly, pisses me off!

The FT's Clive Crook has this to say about the political wrangling taking place:

Neither side seems to care much about delivering the fastest and most effective stimulus the country can get. Both believe that more important issues are at stake. They dress it up, of course, but most Democratic politicians would rather see more people thrown out of work than cut taxes any further, which would please the rich and erode the party’s capacity to do good works. Most Republican politicians carry a mutation of the same intellectual disease. They too would prefer a worse recession to yielding an inch, now they are no longer in power, to bigger government.

One of the best things I've done in my own life has been to disconnect from partisan talk radio, and even NPR, in my car. In doing so, I'm listening to books on CD, which I'm sure has lowered my blood pressure, and made me a heck of a lot saner. I've also been able to see parallels between these economic hard times, and a period of time some 70 years earlier. My current choice of listening material is Nick Taylor's American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the W.P.A., which details FDR's creation of the Works Progress Administration, and how the 32nd president put the country back to work, and gave people hope during dark economic times.

Taylor, the author, had an Op-Ed published back in December, comparing FDR's efforts to put people back to work on public infrastructure projects, with our current president's plan to stimulate the U.S. economy.

I find solace in history, and of late, I've come to believe that much of America's lack of political sophistication (and the ease with which many Americans are led around by the nose by demagogues, left and right) stems from our ignorance of the past. I posted something about that this morning, before coming into work, on my own blog.

Times are tough, as Laurie Ruettimann alluded to today, at Punk Rock HR. Many of the people that darken the doors of Maine's CareerCenters are hurting; out of work, struggling to pay bills, burdened with worries about the future, unemployment benefits, or not.

There are some that find reason to demonize the downtrodden and destitute. I guess that's easy to do, if you've never walked a mile in another's moccassins. But as someone who has struggled to find work, pay bills, and keep a roof over my family's head in the past, I'm moved to compassion for others, and hope that resources might be made available to provide Americans with some hope, and give them a leg up, and a job to feel good about.


Anonymous said...

So was it the W.P.A and other New Deal legislation that finally ended the Great Depression or World War II?

bizdirector said...

From the rhetorical slant of your question, I gather you favor the latter?

The point of my post was to highlight the benefits of learning about our past (so we might not repeat it). In doing so, I'm learning that there are no easy answers to questions, like what finally ended the Great Depression.

The WPA may or may not have ended the economic malaise that persisted 70 years ago, but it did give families hope, gave people a hand up, rather than a hand out, and was the nation's last significant infrastructure build out.