Monday, February 9, 2009

Can We Stimulate Without Spending?

Where do they find these people?

There's a trope that you often see in corporate media discussions of the stimulus plan: Yeah, but do you really want to spend money on that? It may have started with the misrepresented contraceptive plan--which seemed to be grounded in a traditional media fascination/embarrassment at anything involving sex--but now it's moved on to anything that...well, it's hard to say exactly what's objectionable about some of the programs media are objecting to.

Take this confused passage from an L.A. Times editorial (2/2/09):

But too many of the items have little apparent connection with economic growth--witness the nearly $5 billion for prevention, wellness, "comparative effectiveness research" and training in the health field, the $2.1 billion for Head Start and the $300 million to improve teacher quality, just to name a few examples from the 647-page House bill. Other provisions, such as the $64 billion for preventing layoffs at schools, colleges and "high priority" state programs, are about saving jobs, not creating them. In the short term, there may be no difference between preventing job cuts and increasing payrolls--one prevents a bad situation from worsening, the other makes a good situation better. But an investment this large should pay long-term dividends by increasing productivity, and that's hard to do when so much of the money is going toward maintaining the status quo.

Let me just say that if you don't see the connection between improving education and increasing productivity, than you really shouldn't be writing editorials about the economy.

(emphasis mine)

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