Sandy as Stimulus?

I’m of the opinion that four years of writing taxpayer-funded fucking welfare checks and spending trillions on unemployment benefits was the dumbest possible thing on earth when you consider the state of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and the social benefits inherent in putting people to work rather than keeping them in a perpetual state of begging.

I don’t care what the extremist nutjobs on the right or the left think about government-led public works projects or the “guaranteed” social safety net, respectively. I know deep down that people do want to work in general and that America would be doing better had the administration been more forceful and creative and had the GOP opposition stopped being such dicks about everything.

For example, just imagine if Congress and the President had mobilized a natural gas vehicle infrastructure project including transmission, service stations, engine science, cleaner fracking research, etc. America is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas with something like a 100-year supply based on reported reserves. We could have had an explosion in jobs and private investment to go along with something like that. And that’s one example of many things that only the government can set into motion so that companies and entrepreneurs are jumpstarted into motion.

But the President was a pussy who blew his mandate on health care and the obstructionist GOP-ers in Congress are regressive rednecks kowtowing to the economic innumerates in their Tea Party constituencies.

And so here we are, with very little happening in the way of productive projects for the benefit of all Americans.

Which brings me to Hurricane Sandy…

I threw out all of the contents of two refrigerators and freezers yesterday as did two million other homeowners without power this week. We’ll be replacing all of it once the juice comes back on. We’ll also see a massive new market for home generators in this storm’s aftermath along with continued runs on Home Depot and Lowe’s as people seek to put their property back together.  And now we’re hearing estimates for public repairs that are astronomical ($20 billion just for NYC’s subways, for example). Much of this spending goes toward overtime for workers, parts and equipment from American manufacturers and all kinds of local construction involvement.

It ain’t ideal, but it’s still paid work and productive spending.

But is the Sandy clean-up really going to beneficial to the economy, net net? I’m not sure I have an answer. Here are some takes on the topic worth reading:

Sandy Stimulus? Don’t Bet On It (Fortune)

What Hurricane Sandy Means for Ben Bernanke (The Atlantic)

God’s Stimulus? It’ll Take More Than Just Money to Recover From Sandy (HuffPo)

Paul Krugman’s Stimulus Batters The East Coast, Fueling Economic Growth (Forbes)

Sandy points the way to shovel ready projects (USA Today)

Let’s Wait to Politicize Hurricane Sandy (Peter McKay)

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