Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, echoing the feelings of many progressives, recently wrote in The New York Times about how dismayed he was over the success right-wing ideologues have had not only in undercutting Obama's health care bill, but also in mobilizing enormous public support against almost any reform aimed at rolling back the economic, political, and social conditions that have created the economic recession and the legacy of enormous suffering and hardship for millions of Americans over the last 30 years.
My firm, Dayton Machine Tools (below), builds, repairs, and upgrades the complex (and often very large) machine tools that are used in many types of manufacturing. In this position, I am afforded a broad perspective of the American manufacturing sector.
Background - A huge stumbling block for the Climate Change community is that we seem to be approaching this great cause as if humans had never solved any problem like this before. Our response is to keep doing what is easy, instead of what will work. It is easy to focus on raising awareness and to put ads on TV showing the problem and mentioning some incremental approaches to the solution, like windmills or solar installations, or hybrid cars. It is easy to marshal our forces to call Senators and Congresspersons, asking them to pass a particular piece of legislation.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the Stimulus Package, takes a couple of steps in the right direction. The best part of the package is the money that it provides for improvements in infrastructure.
That's good, because our roads, bridges, power grids, and water systems are in bad shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the nation's overall infrastructure a grade of D, and we can't maintain the world's biggest economy with failing roads, bridges, and water systems. Still, the plan’s spending for infrastructure is just a tiny part of what the country needs.
Maintaining our infrastructure is something that government must do. So doing something that’s already the government’s responsibility hardly qualifies as a stimulus.
The time lag for infrastructure improvements and creation of new green jobs is not the only problem.
A bigger problem is that the package perpetuates the myth that government can create wealth.
As the Dow Jones Industrial Average inches upward, there will be a strong temptation--especially from financial news outlets--to equate recovery by shareholders with the recovery of economic security in our country.