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I agree with drizzit, Moose. Stimulus money, no matter what you call it or how you dress it up, has to ALWAYS be a last resort. In fact, it should be an option that is SO much of a last resort that I rhink we should come up with a new name for just what type of "resort" it is. Maybe the "Cold Day in He**" resort. Or the "Get Out of Economic Jail Free Resort, Redeemable only Once per Century." Or maybe even the more drastic. "If You Morons on Capitol Hill and in the Boardrooms of America Ever Try to Pull This Crap Again, We;ll Make the French Revolution Look Like a Boy Scout Jamboree" resort. While I do believe that some of the bailouts given over the past 12 months were needed simply because to not provide them would have led to even bigger problems, I agree with drizzit that we should never even think of awarding huge stimullus packages to healthy businesses or industries. While I can certainly see the argument that "isn't it better to reward highly-motivated, functional industries with financial rewards (ie, aid) instead of "rewarding" industries that have used. at best, qustionable business policies, the real goal should be to never give ANY so-called stimulus packages again, as a robust, high-functioning economy shouldn't need them anyhow.
There is one area that I wish all parties could agree that increasing government funding in said area is a good thing, not just another form of welfare. That area is education, which I subdivide into two very different, but equally important, divisions. The first is basic education, meaning K through 12, as our only real hope to build the workforce of the future that we will desperately need is by vastly improving our school's across the board. The second goes by several names: Adult education (actually not really accurate for what I am ultimately aiming for); continuing education (yes, this would be a part of it, as technology and enhanced communication, etc. are leading to changes in very old, established industries that the U.S. must stay on top of if it hopes to remain at the forefront of the industries in which it is still a leader (I know, I know--do we even lead in making ANYTHING anymore?). To do this, even the most blue-collar industries must adapt the CE model that is so common to doctors and other white-collar professionals. My dad experienced some of this when GM built a new engine plant behind the existing plant he had worked at for more than 30 years. Designed to replace the old plant, the new facility was designed so GM could build far more, and better, engines with a much smaller workforce than it had employed at the old plant. While the loss of jobs due to technological advances that made the new plant state of the art is unfortunate, that kind of attrition has happened for as long as technology became such an important part of business and improved business practices.
The good that came out of closing the old plant and cutting hundreds, if not thousands, of workers, was the fact that those employees who kept their jobs and made the transition to the new plant receivea classes in how to use all of the new technology in the new plant. While obviously some of the things they learned were specific to just that plant, others covered new technology that was commonly used in many industries (robotics, etc.) and thus helped build a more technical, transferable knowledge base that the remaining workers could use to find jobs outside the auto industry, either because they wanted to or because they might someday be forced to. In other words, GM finally pulled it's head out of it's stodgy old rear for just a few seconds and did something that was incredibly smart and that should have been emulated across the entire auto industry.
The last kind of education I would like to see benefit from some kind of "stimulus" plan is worker retraining. trade schools, etc. To a certain extent, this is already happening, as I know government money has been made available in larger amounts to provide as many people as possible with full or partial scholarships. To me, that is an excellent use of such resources, one that should have a very direct point a to point b effect on more folks finding new jobs and careers. I say that because most of the trade schools and retraining classes that you see out there are for the hottest job fields of the future. Anything in healthcare, especially occupational and physical therapy, are experiencing incredible growth. You simply cannot go wrong right now in the States spending money and time learning to be a therapist, a nurse, or almost any other kind of medical specialist--such as a phlebotimist, x-ray tech, etc.--thanks to the rapidly aging population that is also living much longer than in the past (ie, more elderly people to begin with, and they live longer). I'm sure everyone has noticed how television and radio ads for the trade schools that specialize in the hotter careers have sprung up all over the place, and I'm sure that is in part due to the increased money they have to offer for scholarships. Again, this is just my opinion, but any money spent in this manner is money well-spent, whether is is government or private. Teaching people new skills that are actually in-demand is perhaps the best way I can think of to actually change the make-up of our workforce and to put people to work in jobs that pay better than the "unskilled," near-minimum wage jobs that are, frankly, all that are available to many of the unemployed folks here in the U.S. because they lack education (our high-school dropout rate is criminal) and don't have the money to pay for classes even if they are interested in finally attending school to create better lives for themselves. (And yes, I understand that the argument can be made that dropouts make their beds, therefore they must lie in them and that we don't owe anything to people who rejected the free education we gave them, and I can even sympathize with that position. However, I know that being more interested in telling people "Ha! We told you so!" and working to keep them down because they don't "deserve" any government assistance, let alone any government money is simply not conducive to making our society as a whole better than it is now. A simplistic viewpoint? Sure it is. But I guess I'll take a simplistic view that supports bettering people by any means necessary over an angry viewpoint about "wasting government money" on folks who don't deserve it anytime.
So there's my take on any more "stimulus packages" and where the government can stick 'em! As well as where they can actually start spending their money in a smart way. LOL
He who has a 'why' to live can bear with almost any 'how'. --Friedrich Nietzsche
Sounds like everything takes time, discipline, and patience, and those are seven things I don't have. --Jon Dore