Get ready, get set… stimulate!

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Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
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Get ready, get set… stimulate!

Washington is about to mail $600 checks to you, me, and nearly everyone else (unless you’re poor – then you only get half that). The checks are to prompt us to “go shopping,” as George W so eloquently sums up our chief duty as citizens. This is Washington’s bipartisan plan to stimulate the American economy and avoid a recession.

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Well, they’re a bit late for most Americans, since the working-class majority sank deeply into recession long ago. But there’s also a basic flaw in Washington’s strategy of using shopping as an economic stimulus: most of the stuff we’ll buy with our government checks is made in China or other low-wage nations. So our so-called leaders are shipping $168 billion from our public treasury for a “stimulus” program that essentially will stimulate foreign economies. Goofy, huh?

Meanwhile, back at Ranchito USA, there’s lots of stimulating that could be done, returning a huge benefit to our people and our nation for every dollar spent. Even as Bush and Congress were telling us to go shopping for foreign stuff, a federal commission issued a startling report calculating that we need to be spending $225 billion a year – for the next 50 years – just to maintain and upgrade America’s vital infrastructure of roads, bridges, and transportation systems. That doesn’t count our decaying water systems, sewage plants, dams, and schools, nor our inadequate internet and phone systems, our flickering power grid – and the exciting potential of building a new green energy infrastructure.

You want stimulation? Let’s invest our public dollars – and leverage trillions of private dollars – in a grassroots recovery program that will put millions of skilled laborers, entrepreneurs, inventors, small business people, and others to work rebuilding America’s future. A good job at good wages doing good work beats a $600 check any day.

“Before Another Bridge Falls,” The New York Times, February 23, 2008

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