David Brooks has a column which I mostly agree with.
In times like these, the best a sensible leader can do is to take the short-term panic and channel it into a program that is good on its own merits even if it does nothing to stimulate the economy over the next year. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m hoping the next president takes the general resolve to spend gobs of money, and channels it into a National Mobility Project, a long-term investment in the countryâ€™s infrastructure.
Major highway projects take about 13 years from initiation to completion â€” too long to counteract any recession. But at least they create a legacy that can improve the economic environment for decades to come.
A major infrastructure initiative would create jobs for the less-educated workers who have been hit hardest by the transition to an information economy. It would allow the U.S. to return to the fundamentals. There is a real danger that the U.S. is going to leap from one over-consuming era to another, from one finance-led bubble to another. Focusing on infrastructure would at least get us thinking about the real economy, asking hard questions about what will increase real productivity, helping people who are expanding companies rather than hedge funds.
So in other words, we should pump money into infrastructure as a way of providing jobs. A sort of national works project, if you will. Sounds like a great idea to me!
(Perhaps we could also pay writers and artists to travel the blue highways, collecting the folk tales of “real” America. At the very least, maybe they could go to the places David Brooks has written about, and set the record straight.)