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August 21, 2003

Broken Infrastructure-- Jobs for America

As this ABCNEWS.com story details, the decayed power distribution system behind the blackout is just part of the more general sorry shape of bridges, roads and sewer systems across the country.

This is a serious problem.

So is the loss of millions of jobs in the last few years.

Put them together and you have a plan for serious economic recovery.

Public policy on the economy has become obsessed with numbers -- the Fed Funds rate, the deficit, the stock market, mortgage rates, GNP growth-- with little focus on what we actually think Americans should be doing 9-5 every day.

And the reality is that policy based on tax cuts -- with no thought on what goods people will then buy -- inevitably leads to a lot of those tax cuts doing nothing to help boost jobs, since the money goes overseas to buy imported goods or invest in overseas companies.

Conservatives phrase this argument against tax cuts as "not trusting the American people with their own money." It's not a question of trust, though. Each person can rationally decide to go to Wal-Mart and buy imported goods, even as they might prefer to buy a quicker commute to the store. But guess what-- you can't go shopping for one one-millionth of a repaired road, or a more reliable power system. Give me the cash and I'll go to Wal-Mart but that doesn't mean that's more valuable than more mass transit or safer sewer systems. And that doesn't mean that each American won't feel better that investing in infrastructure is more certain to increase employment.

Posted by Nathan at August 21, 2003 10:21 AM