Skip to main content

View Diary: Creating Jobs Is Not "Wasteful" (259 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  My understanding is that a lot of the (7+ / 0-)

    information we have on what life under slavery was like for the slave comes from people wandering the country with very early tape recorders during the Great Depression.

    Can you see this inaugural, Dr. King? Did you see this?

    by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 06:36:39 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  There is a right-wing myth... (8+ / 0-)

      ...going around these days that the New Deal kept America in the Depression.  It didn't.  FDR's cost-cutting in 1937, in response to critics of the New Deal then, did bring on a renewed recession.  The New Deal, in fact, worked, and worked well when it was most aggressive.  There's a reason every home in Appalachia was adorned with a photograph of Roosevelt.

      The WPA did, as you note, and as kossack Land of Enchantment has been diarying recently, collect the histories that were just on the verge of being lost forever.  They also built most of the architectural features of our parks, other civic buildings in towns across the nation, and roads and trails.  WPA actors performed in theaters in every community, WPA artists painted murals or produced prints and posters for a wider audience, WPA writers wrote the guides that are compelling reading even today.

      In just the fine arts alone, many of the artists we revere most highly today were WPA participants.  Indeed, the WPA was the single greatest force in breaking down the race barriers that had held back African-American artists up to that time, as black and white artists worked side-by-side in the arts workshops of Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.  While much is made of the WWII-era exodus of European Surrealists to New York as a stimulus to American art, the truth is, without the support that the WPA provided in the 1930s this nation might not have gone on to become the cultural capital of the world in succeeding decades.

      "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

      by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:15:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Otteray Scribe

        ...going around these days that the New Deal kept America in the Depression.  It didn't.  FDR's cost-cutting in 1937, in response to critics of the New Deal then, did bring on a renewed recession.

        What would you say if I posited that his deficit spending in the New Deal created another bubble that collapsed when the deficit spending went away, that the economy could never have improved while being weaned  away from deficit spending? At what point do you pull the plug?

        I mean even now, it's easy to have a "great" economy when you're running a 6-7% trade deficit (i.e. other nations are sending you 6-7% of your crap for free). But how do you generate a sustainable economy without trade or government deficit?

        •  I probably wouldn't use your terminology,... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          ...since it equates this with other types of bubbles, but yeah, pulling the funding away did cause the recession in 1937.  The point (I think -- I'm not an economist) is to ease away from such stimulus as the economy gains its legs with trade, etc.

          I don't think that's what you wanted me to say, though.  I suspect you want to just let things run their course?

          "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

          by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:44:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't really want you to say anything (0+ / 0-)

            I just wanted you to consider the idea that it may not be possible to use deficit spending the way you suggest that FDR did. He deficit spent, then the economy looked like it was recovering, then he stopped, and it collapsed again.

            The only way your scenario makes sense is if he should have spent longer deficit spending, or that he should have somehow done it differently. Since you can't deficit spend indefinitely, how do you deal with the situation.

            I'm not a right-winger, I believe a lot of the same things you do, but this is a scientific matter that's not really political. Deficit-spending your way out of a recession either works, or it doesn't. Japan tried it, and it failed miserably, putting them massively in debt.

            •  Like I said, I'm not an economist. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk

              You'd be better off asking others more conversant than I about these things.

              The point I was making is that we have to get past the right-wing mythology that all spending is bad, only more yummy tax cuts will be acceptable.  And that there were social changes that came with the New Deal (the slave accounts, the integration of workshops) that won't show up on balance sheets but have a significant beneficial impact on the nation.

              "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

              by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:04:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I completely agree (0+ / 0-)

                It's just that I have a problem with this "spend to create jobs" mentality. You spend because you have a need, not because you need jobs. Jobs are a byproduct, and really, something that the government should try to minimize when it endeavors to do something, just like the private sector does.

                I mean, Merkley's "we need to fix the forests" kick. That's great, but the logic should go, (a) we need forest maintenance, so (b) how can we accomplish this while minimizing the cost?

                The logic shouldn't go (a) we need some jobs, what do we need done? (b) Oh, I guess those forests could be trimmed or whatever.

                I mean, I'm sure that Oregon would love federal money coming in to do that work, just like everyone would. But the project has to make sense according to whatever criteria the government has for such things. "It'll create jobs in my district" doesn't cut it, since money is coming directly from taxpayers' pockets to do it.

                •  Every one of those jobs has an impact... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...outside the immediate one of that job.  It permits economic activity in the community that would serve that individual.  It pays tuitions for the individual's college-age children.  It permits daycare so the spouse can seek other work to propel the economy forward on another leg.  It pays mortgages, so communities don't fall into disrepair and decline and crime.  No part of this stands alone.

                  "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                  by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:26:55 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  All an illusion (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Onomastic

                    A job needs to actually generate real wealth, or else it isn't doing any of those things. It might "appear" to be allowing people to pay the mortgage or whatever, but that will only last until the artificial subsidy for the job is removed, then the job vanishes, and even worse, all the ancillary economic activity that's grown up to depend on that job (hairdressers, lawyers, etc) goes away as well, leaving you worse off than before!

                    This is exactly what happened in the housing boom, where our economy was built around a non-wealth-producing activity (furiously building excessive houses and selling them frenetically). When the artificial housing boom had played itself out, all the housing jobs go away... and so do lots of other ones created based on the economic environment that the housing market generated. In my view, this is exactly what is destined to happen in Obama's case when he is forced to stop because foreign lenders won't fund his programs anymore at a deficit because lots of them are non-value-add (I like parks, too, but to think that they add to the economy in a meaningful way is silly).

                    Real wealth creating jobs that are profitable on their own terms aren't dependent on artificial unsustainable stimulus to keep going. These are fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities, and these are where wealth in a society is created. The government's job should be to foster a stable environment in which these activities can take place.

                    •  a few comments.. (0+ / 0-)
                      1. Re deficit spending and debt... We have had a significant contraction in the money supply due to the huge loses sustained by the banks and other organizations. If more money isn't introduced into the economy we will likely see deflation due to the sudden decrease of available funds. Perhaps the real solution here is to put an end to debt based money.

                      Real wealth creating jobs that are profitable on their own terms aren't dependent on artificial unsustainable stimulus to keep going. These are fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities, and these are where wealth in a society is created. The government's job should be to foster a stable environment in which these activities can take place.

                      1. What about spending to solve problems that will greatly endanger us in the future in the event that they aren't addressed? For instance, if we develop new forms of alternative energy today and create infrastructure or it we have jobs indefinitely maintaining that infrastructure while also addressing the energy independence problem and starting to mitigate global climate change...  Some have said that dealing with the pending energy and climate crisis will require a society wide mobilization on par with WW2. Thus, we may find ourselves investing in our infrastructure at government expense for quite a while. The upside is that when this is done we will become truly a self-sufficient nation again.
                      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                        Re deficit spending and debt... We have had a significant contraction in the money supply due to the huge loses sustained by the banks and other organizations. If more money isn't introduced into the economy we will likely see deflation due to the sudden decrease of available funds. Perhaps the real solution here is to put an end to debt based money.

                        We are already seeing deflation, because the "debt currency" part of the economy is gigantic in comparison to the actual amount of physical cash around. They already tried printing, it didn't help, and remember too that increasing the real number of dollars in circulation will drive up T-bill yields and crush our government's ability to fund its debt.

                        I'm ok with the monetary system the way it is... as long as it is kept under control.

                        What about spending to solve problems that will greatly endanger us in the future in the event that they aren't addressed? For instance, if we develop new forms of alternative energy today and create infrastructure or it we have jobs indefinitely maintaining that infrastructure while also addressing the energy independence problem and starting to mitigate global climate change...  Some have said that dealing with the pending energy and climate crisis will require a society wide mobilization on par with WW2. Thus, we may find ourselves investing in our infrastructure at government expense for quite a while. The upside is that when this is done we will become truly a self-sufficient nation again.

                        Sure, but these are all costs, is my point, the "jobs" angle is completely ancillary here. There is a lot of stuff the government does that is totally necessary, including infrastructure spending and doing whatever is supposed to be done about oil and climate change. I completely support spending in these areas, but not because it "creates jobs", but because we need to do it! The question is: how cheaply can we do it, not how many jobs can we make.

                        The only caveat here is that some of this stuff might be worth doing because it's a global need, so if we get ahead of everyone else in green tech, we can sell it to them, which puts us at a comparative advantage and is good.

                    •  A stable environment is exactly... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Onomastic

                      ...what is sought in the stimulus.  An end or at least a slowing to the deterioration of the economic fabric.

                      A response need not be only in "fundamental engineering, scientific, and manufacturing activities," as long as a decent percentage of those jobs are created.

                      "There is only one caution. Don't let it happen again." -- edscan, 21 Jan 2009

                      by ArtSchmart on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:02:06 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site