Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If you don't like economic stimulus, what do you do about unemployment?

Just to be up front about this, I favor a WPA-type jobs program (also suggested by Paul Krugman). I would go further in saying that I think it should be for something like rebuilding our passenger rail system, something that will give us a big pay off and make sense when the future seems to hold increasing oil prices.

Now maybe you're concerned about the deficit, or just believe that government should not be involved in the economy except for expanding or contracting the money supply. I would argue that while the deficit is a very bad problem and that government intervention is generally bad, now is a time when we really have no choice. Now is one of those rare times when the government should be very active. The deficit concerns me more, but I feel that unless we want to write off our society and life as we know it, we have to do something.

I would be interested in hearing arguments/proposals for dealing with unemployment that do not involve stimulus spending. If Republicans end up controlling Congress in 2010, this is the problem they will be faced with.

If you don't think anything should be done about unemployment I'd like to hear how this will work. What will prevent a continued downward spiral of the economy as more and more consumers are unable to consume? And what about the people who are unemployed and now homeless on the streets. Doesn't our society have some duty to them? And if not, they at least would be a great source of disorder and social strain.