Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fala Is Dead And He Ain't Coming Back

Bob Herbert sez:

The U.S. economy cannot work if ordinary men and women cannot find work. Let’s forget for a moment all the ritualized lingo about tax cuts, all the easy but uninformed talk about entitlement reform and all the empty rhetoric about balancing budgets that will never be truly balanced in our lifetimes.

I very much wish Mr. Herbert is right but I fear that he is the one indulging in "ritualized lingo". Entitlements can indeed be reformed and budgets can be balanced....with a vengeance. It is called going broke and, as Robby The Robot said, "it is quite close now".

The recent run of celebrated air disasters have provided very clear illustrations of the difference between a controlled descent (currently known as a miracle)and an uncontrolled descent (currently known as a crash with no survivors). If we don't get very serious -painfully serious - about paying down our debt and, at the very least, radically reforming our medical costs then runaway inflation, a blown dollar, and a generation lost to economic eclipse is guaranteed. These problems are not just Republican talking points.In the event of a total economic collapse the budget will virtually balance itself as all interests meet on the comon ground of want.

I appreciate Herbert's commitment to some form of infrastructure investment....but lets not try to justify it as some sort of stimulative panacea. We just don't have the cash or the line of credit available for a Keynesian stimulus of the magnitude required to make that kind of an impact. Lets not be seduced by some nostalgic WPA fantasy.

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