Perspective on the "bailout"
The name still makes me cringe, "bailout." It sounds like quit, escape, run away, etc. Now, I know that the goal of the so-called stimulus package is to create jobs, prevent bankruptcies, and improve confidence in the market, but I just don't see it working (I will have difficulty arguing that it is or isn't, see below).
From my perspective, this policy effort is masking pork and other special-interest-but-maybe-not-locationally-based projects. Sure, the economy is in a heap of trouble; it makes it a good day to be a politician. I hear you citizenJoe, you need help because no one wants to buy your company's outdated product (read: American car); well, I am going to help you by borrowing a huge load of money and "investing" it in happy jobs.
[Aside: I can just imagine the conversations that must go on in the back rooms when these guys argue about which areas should get "investment." Somebody must be ready to remind them when they get too realistic that we only want to have people work in carbon-neutral positions. *sigh*]
What I fear is that when the idea to start throwing money at the problem came up, everyone agreed it was a good idea, but they forgot to figure out what the "problem" was exactly. I think that it falls from having the dollar (and some other currencies) no longer based on anything of value, like a gold standard as well as being obsessed with conspicuous consumption and the "debt culture." However, none of these problems were politically feasible to solve. We don't have trillions of dollars worth of gold lying around these days, so that didn't seem like a good policy idea. Far be it from the government to tell us what we can and cannot buy (unless it is a *sin* item, like alcohol, tobacco, boats, etc when excise taxes make some things more expensive than others), and it is so unpopular to preach the idea of conservation a la Jimmy Carter. Conspicious consumption goes hand in hand with the debt culture because some forms of savings, like owning capital, get preferential treatment (via taxation) as opposed to just saving plain old money.
I assume that these politicians don't think that we citizens can do math. What is $800 billion; what about $9.7 trillion? For an excellent perspective helper, see citizenJoe's own dollar-o-meter. In my opinion, it won't matter what we spend. The problems won't be addressed -by this piece of legislation anyways. And even the symptoms will only be partially addressed.
Whatever the cost, and despite some of our objections, I hope it is successful. Of course, we will have difficulty making or rejecting this claim, as well stated in Business Week "The problem is, we don't know what trajectory the economy would take
without the stimulus package," says J. Bradford DeLong, an economics
professor at the University of California-Berkeley. "We can't enter a Star Trek-like
divided universe in which we compare what's happening with the stimulus
versus without it. It's hard to precisely judge its impact."