Saturday, March 07, 2009

What we gotta do instead of giving more money to bankers

President Obama continues to act like George W. Bush, and yes, even Bill Clinton in thinking he has to directly prop up the financial industry. What the President needs to push Congress to do are the following:

* Declare a moritorium on foreclosures for 90 days;

* Have every State government provide a list of three major public works projects to the federal government, and then, the feds should start giving money to the States to fund those public works projects, as approved by the feds;

* Pass labor law reform to ensure the public works projects pay prevailing wages in every State and increase the ability of workers in the private sector to form unions in places like Wal-Mart and other service businesses to increase workers' purchasing power;

* Pass domestic content legislation and demand that more foreign manufacturers build plants here, starting in the Mid-West to give further incentive for people to move from the coasts and cities; and

* Give American taxpayers vouchers of up to $10,000 to buy American goods and services, listed by the federal government in the voucher plan, i.e. a Chrysler van, a computer made largely in the US, etc.

And please, nationalize the biggest banks with their hands out so we don't have to keep shoveling money out the federal government's door for nothing in return.

If this seems difficult to understand from an economic point of view, here is the incomparable Amartya Sen on something that seems academic, but helps us understand the primacy of the policy prescriptions I have just offered. Sen understands a nation is strong when it can buy what it builds, and builds what it buys. That's nation-building. That's nation-sustaining. And that's the issue, not some naive fealty to "free market" theory combined with a cynical belief that somehow government can't do anything to actually help people.

I was so pleased to hear Bill Maher say (at about 5 minutes into the clip) what I've said for years, which is that if we had a government health insurance system that was the equivalent to the US Post Office, it would be significantly more efficient in providing services to people than the private insurance companies.

I guess that's the end of that rant...



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