Cliff Schecter, 11/3/2011 [Archive]

Conservatism Blew Up The Economy Here's How You Fix It

Conservatism Blew Up The Economy — Here's How You Fix It

By Cliff Schecter

So what do you do when financial analysts are warning that housing prices are headed for a "triple dip," big banks continue to lay off people amid increased profits and the government just sued Allied Home Mortgage for a decade of fraudulent lending practices?

Cut Medicare! Yeah, baby, yeah!

Seriously, could the economic Big Brains who think it's a good idea to take money out of people's pockets via spending cuts, while rejecting increased spending on our nation's crashing infrastructure, try punching "Japan" and "lost decade" into the Google machine? Or perhaps just admit their relationship to understood economics is like a Kim Kardashian's marriage--shallow, somewhat entertaining, but ultimately embarrassing.

These right-wing members of Congress and inhabitants of the "pro-market," think-tank-welfare world, with their flip reaction the ongoing economic crisis, have begun to remind me of an exchange between John Travolta (who's trying to steal and sell nuclear weapons) and Christian Slater (who's trying to stop him) in the movie Broken Arrow. Slater's character says to Travolta's, "you're out of your mind," to which Travolta replies--while wearing a spooky Herman Cain, I-just-gave-a-massage-to-my-secretary smile--"yeah, ain't it cool."

Apparently, the only stimulant conservatives favor is whatever Rick Perry was mainlining during his speech in New Hampshire the other night.

What's so maddening, however, is the answer is quite clear to sane people and non-shills--long-term infrastructure projects that in the near term provide jobs, and further out will provide...jobs. And increased productivity. Ever hear of those train things or the Internet? Yeah, well, people are more productive when they're faster and stuff.

Part of what's so frustrating is that not only was President Obama's stimulus bill too small by half, which top economists predicted before it passed (but yay, Susan Collins liked it!). But the Administration didn't even defend it, which took something the Congressional Budget Office says saved up to 3.6 million jobs and allowed it to be demonized by politically expedient grifters playing games.

These very same economists who were right about the stimulus are now clamoring for more infrastructure spending. Paul Krugman, who has been banging this drum for a while, pointed out in a recent piece how the very same crowd that flips out over any government spending on, for lack of a better phrase, people who can't afford his and hers dancing water fountains from Neiman Marcus as a stocking-stuffer, continually push for spending for defense contractors without a worry in the world about the budget. Why? Because these hypocritical dunderheads say "such cuts would destroy jobs."

Construction bad, destruction good, to paraphrase Krugman.

So obviously the deficit hysteria is simply that, a pretend crisis to hide an ideology gunning for its greatest achievement to be reintroducing the elderly to the joys of the appetizing and eminently satisfying Purina dinner.

In addition to economists, some in the business world who care about being good citizens and the well-being beyond their four walls, understand the importance of infrastructure spending for our economy and people. Stan Litow, the head of IBM's corporate citizen program, with whom I work on some of these projects, answered a question I asked him concerning the role of government in infrastructure development and improvements by affirming that "states and the U.S. Government can be major players." Last week Litow and IBM launched their third Smarter Cities Challenge, inviting urban centers across the globe to apply for a grant, technological assistance and consulting services to complete a variety of projects that improve cities while creating jobs. In the past, this has included creating a smart grid in Boulder, Colorado and improving transportation planning and delivery of services in Austin, Texas.

If only the federal government would build upon efforts like these, to fix our decaying streets while creating jobs for the so-desperately unemployed who inhabit them.

This past week, a study was released by the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development countries (OECD), and as with so many measures of our country's health, the conservative vice grip on our culture has taken us straight into the toilet in our rankings on social justice. At 27th, the US is far behind countries such as Hungary (17th) and Poland (20th), and quickly approaching Mexico (30). Which perhaps is the conservative plan--to make the US so uninhabitable that nobody wants to immigrate here anymore--legally or illegally.

Charles Blow of the Times summed up the study perfectly, as "America's Exploding Pipe Dream." If only our infrastructure were instead a pipe bomb, as Krugman pointed out, we'd rush to fund it without end.

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©Copyright 2011 Cliff Schecter, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain. Follow Cliff on Twitter @CliffSchecter.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.




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