Sunday, January 11, 2009

No Broken Windows

Calculated Risk has a nice suggestion today.

CR reiterates a point made by the Levy Institute in a working paper in August 2008 (see my prior post, FuturEcon) that Keynes felt that all infrastructure/government programs make economic/societal sense and NOT be makework programs simply for the sake of "jobs". The classic example is that of deliberately breaking windows to give employment to glaziers, installers, etc.

CR's proposals found in, "Demolition as Stimulus" are modest and therefore meet our criteria here. They make sense on their own merits, are affordable, and can only help neighborhoods and society. If Congress and the Obama administration can keep their eyes on the practicality ball, then they can achieve a good return on investment on all the money that will need to be borrowed.

Of course, this is what our various levels of government should have been doing all along. Zillions of dollars have gone into road, school and hospital construction over the last decade. What is so special about today's economic crisis that construction needs to be the focus of attention?

I still propose more of an emphasis on true 21st and even 22nd Century projects rather than the same-old/same-old Old Economy stuff. Let's have more biotech research; more infusion of information technology into the practice of medicine; software that really works easily; etc.: the stuff that Bill Clinton meant in his "Bridge to the 21st Century" slogan.

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