You have to marvel at this country's capacity to come up with all of the money that new bail-out and stimulus programs are going to cost. Why have we been paralyzed by our supposed inability to pay for other government programs, whether it is the reconstruction of Iraq or Afghanistan, or money for housing, education or transportation projects? Why was it so easy to find $100 billion for AIG, but impossible to maintain this country's roads or bridges? It makes me think our inability to invest in needed projects has resulted more from a failure of political will than from a genuine inability to find the funding. All the time that our political leaders have been telling us that we cannot afford this or that, in fact we could have installed solar panels on every home in America, or built a high speed rail network, or modernized all of our prisons and schools, or funded universal health care for all. Apparently this country's credit is still good enough to run our deficit up another couple of trillion dollars. Right now we are using this credit to save the banks and restore business confidence, and I think we do need to do that. I am a little worried, however, that the current administration is more concerned about reducing the losses of the investing classes, than they are about improving the lives of the working classes. This is one reason the new administration cannot take office too soon.
One hopes that all these new-found sources of financial capacity have not run dry by the time the Obama administration wants to put them to use for the purpose of rebuilding infrastructure. Large scale, well-thought-out public works projects have both an immediate benefit in putting people to work, as well as a long term benefit in creating productive capacity and efficiency. This kind of stimulus package would therefore seem to make a lot more sense than the mindless tax rebates enacted last year. I have confidence that the Obama team's stimulus plan will also be more carefully targeted than the investments in financial institutions that the government is currently making, which are being made with too few strings attached and too much faith in the institutions whose poor judgment got us into this mess in the first place.