Stimulus Plan Won't Keep Economy Afloat

On spending choices to stimulate the national economy.

February 11, 2008

To the editor:

Congress voted to put money in peoples hands to spend quickly to stimulate the economy. But such a one-time stimulus of demand can only slightly delay a possible recession. It's analogous to giving everyone on a sinking ship a bucket and have each bail just one bucket of water. The ship is still going down.

The corporate lobby argued that tax breaks for business investment to "stimulate supply" and "create jobs" would be better. They got their wish, in part. Apparently, however, Congress and the corporate lobby still fail to recognize the academic, scientific, and intuitive fact that it takes demand to stimulate supply. After all, one wouldn't start a business if one didn't perceive sufficient demand, or latent demand, for one's product or service.

I do agree that the stimulus package should be focused toward investment. But, being public money, it should be spent on public investment, such as public schools, adult education and job training, and existing infrastructure projects collecting dust on a shelf waiting for funding. How about an infrastructure grant to cities in proportion to population. That would imply approximately $70M for Syracuse. Such investment would provide opportunity, increase productivity and demand, and create jobs in the U.S. In fact, such a stimulus plan would simply represent sensible and productive government spending that could, of course, be part of every year's budget.

Note: Post-Standard letter, published Feb 19, 2008.