If you’re trying to keep track of the money spent by our Federal Government for “stimulus”, you must know that it’s not easy. CNN has a guide that I’ve found handy that tells me the Government has committed to $1.9 Trillion (With a capital T) and the Federal Reserve about $6.4 Trillion. It adds up to about $75,000 for every family in the USofA, a number so large that it still defies description. I was wondering if somewhere in all that was, in fact, a bit for our families – or at least the kids who will have to pay for this.
With all the money floating around, including $3 Billion to get old cars off the road, you would think that there might be some kind of program that would put people back to work. After all, we’ve lost about 6 Million jobs in the last year, and on the high side we can estimate that it’ll cost about $100,000 each to keep people employed for a year – just until things get going again. That would amount to around $600 Billion, or just a bit under the initial promise to places like Goldman-Sachs.
The question I always have is, “What could we get for this?” That’s where it gets interesting. We can be pretty sure that giving people jobs will help start up the critical consumer part of the economy because people who have just a little money tend to spend it a bit quicker than people who have too much. It would be good to get useful work out of people rather than handing them unemployment checks, but you don’t just employ 6M people in the Social Security Office.
If we can identify places where people can be employed in a way that can clearly be considered an investment, passing on the tab to future generations doesn’t seem as awful as it does now. Investments we know we need include infrastructure such as roads and bridges, but it can also include a lot of research in clean energy – something like an Apollo Program, which ran about $150 Billion in today’s money. Educating kids can also be considered an investment, especially if they are going to have the kind of super-productive jobs that will be able to cover this tab.
Where does money move fastest in the economy? Among those who need it the most. How much would it take to employ them all? A lot less than we’ve spent so far. What can we get for it? A different world than we have now, if we do it right.
I understand how it’s gotten difficult to track how much money we’ve thrown at this problem so far. What I don’t understand is how so very little of it has managed to go into things that make a clear difference.