Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Economic stimulus or just spending money?

I just read breaking news from the AP about an economic stimulus package passage. Here's a link.

click to read

Some thoughts on the article...

I am pretty good at reading political-ese. I spent a huge majority of my time in high school reading senate bills, contacting senators, helping campaigns, talking to law makers at the state capital building, etc. (Oh, the things you can do when you're home schooled and don't have to waste 8 hours a day sitting through classes you could pass without taking...) However, I guess being so out of the loop during college has cost me, because the article doesn't make much sense to me.

I'm somewhat surprised by the Republicans' nay-saying, for the most part. It seems to me that a large number of politicians sway in the wind. Perhaps the complete and total failure of the first two bail-outs has sobered up some of the former conservatives. Or, perhaps they are simply paying attention to what's in the bill.

Which brings me to another thought-- this looks suspiciously like a spending bill rather than a stimulus package (although the difference is quite debatable at this point). Reading to the bottom of the article, I find that:

"The Senate proposed $450 million for NASA for exploration, for example, $50 million less than the House. It also eliminated the House's call for money to combat a potential flu pandemic."

DO WHAT??? What the crap does NASA have to do with it??? Pardon my French, but half a billion dollars on space exploration is not the same as public works projects!!! What flu pandemic? What if there isn't a flu pandemic? Can't we spend money on that when it happens, not before???

I'm very passionate about this, people! The government owns huge parts of our major banks, for crying out loud! We have well over a trillion dollars in national debt, yet we want to throw money at imaginary disease outbreaks and space exploration??? What if our national creditors do what some of the banks did to citizens and call our loans early? Think of post WWI Germany (this is not Nazi Germany, although it may have led to it)... Look it up, if you have to. Find a very general description

I think I'm going to actually read these bills. I haven't because some of these things are multiple hundreds of pages long with a lot of politicalese. I urge you to try to read these, too. I have a feeling you will say to yourself, "I don't know a lot about this stuff, but what does NASA have to do with helping laid-off Starbucks workers?" You can find the most current version of the bill by visiting the office of the clerk of the House of Representatives. Read it from the bottom up and you can see everything that happened in the House that day. Thomas is another great resource for looking up legislation, but you have to be careful to figure out which one is the most recently amended.

After that, Republican and Democrat alike, call your representatives and ask them to demand that the extra junk be eliminated and if it's not to vote 'no.' I know Democrats probably feel like they really need to support the president and that if we don't pass this thing by Friday a million babies are going to starve to death by Tuesday morning, or some similar tragedy. That is simply not true.

The more likely scenario is that we will pass bail-out after stimulus package after bail-out after spending plan, the value of our money will (eventually) plummet and we will be standing in line for bread because even those who have jobs can't feed their families. How much did the first stimulus help? Answer: none. The Obama administration's own projections say that the recession will continue for another five years or so and only be slightly prolonged if no action is taken. If that's the case, ask yourself why it's so urgent that we give NASA $500 million dollars before Friday, or else.

Perhaps a public-works deal could be beneficial. I know that my friends and family just hit their jaws on their desks. I'm generally pretty conservative (read: very conservative), but I'm open to suggestions. This could get ugly, and I'm willing to read any legislation that has a precise plan with obvious economic benefits, a strategy for turning over the project to the private sector with a timeline, and a decent sunset. (A sunset is when the bill is set to expire unless law-makers renew the bill). If I can feel fairly confident the government won't be involved forever, I would consider supporting it.

I will not support legislation that involves throwing money at special interest groups-- I don't care which ones-- or the government buying huge assets (or any assets, really) in privately owned companies. Companies fail-- that's what capitalism is. You screw up your business plan and mismanage your money, you go out of business. If those banks had failed completely, people would lose money in the stock market and some people would lose their jobs. Another bank would have bought them (which, ironically, is what actually happened before we started giving them money). Even if not, people still have up to $100,000 each in FDIC insured money (which is now $250k).

After all that, please don't panic, people. Don't let yourself get bullied into making a poor decision because of some artificial deadline. Don't clamor for the passage of the PATRIOT act then get outraged because people get jailed without charges or bail. Call your representatives and insist that they take more time. Cut all but the essentials and bring it back to us after you have a plan, transparency, oversight, and only essentials. Not before.


  1. I must say, speaking of your previous blog posting, I too don't understand the need to give NASA the amount of money proposed. I envision the people writing this bill having a conversation as follows:

    Important Senator: I like space! It's always up there, and consistency is key to a beautiful sky!

    Less Important Sentor: Ummm...what?

    Important Senator: Come here, Les Important Senator, and look out my window!

    (Less Important Senator walks to the window)

    Important Senator: Do you see it up there, just being consistent by being there every time you look up?!

    Less Important Senator: Mr. Important Senator, we need to focus on this bail-out bill for our country and its economic hardships.

    Important Senator: I like NASA. They explore things like space!

    Less Important Senator: ...

    Important Senator: Let's give them money! Surely everyone in the USA can benefit from NASA keeping space consistent and beautiful!

    Less Important Senator: (*sigh*) Mr. Important Senator, you're speaking as though it's NASA that keeps space from running away...IT'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE! Can we please get back to this bill?!

    Important Senator: Ok, we'll just give them a little bit of money then, because I like them! What's your favorite number, Less Important Senator?

    Less Important Senator: 1...

    Important Senator: That's a terrible favorite number...I was thinking something more along the lines of 450,000,000. Yes, that's a good round number!

    Less Important Senator: WHAT? How in God's green earth is that a good round number?! This bill is for businesses, banks, manufacturers...We need to do this the right way and help our country! It's our du-

    Important Senator: Shut up! I have more power than you because I'm a democrat and we hold the house, so it's going in there...[edited by moderator]

    Less Important Senator: I don't think-

    Important Senator: Shut up, I already wrote it in there. Now, continue to look at space with me through my enormous office window that costs more than most people's houses.

    Yeah...I hate politics. They never make any sense to me. Things should be just black and white, but I guess that's why I'm not a politician. I wouldn't be able to propose any bills for either party because each party is too selfish in their own way. If this money is truly what they say it's for, there's no need to give it to NASA, or use for a flu pandemic (yeah, not sure what that's about...). Too much gray matter for me...

    I'm done...

    I love [millionaire teacher], and I hope you enjoyed my long comment!

  2. Love Tyler's comments. Although generally not serious-political-debate material, he's always got some amusing or anecdotal commentary. Agree or disagree, I appreciate that he can lighten up any topic!