Confidence and Plumbing aren't the same thing.
Both parties are missing the point of "stimulus". Both sides seem to agree with nonsensical statements like "Government can't create jobs" and "government
can't create wealth."
On a deeper level, the politicians are thinking solely within the narrow bounds of economics, thinking only of the flow of dollars, treating humans as nothing more than plumbing. If you pump enough liquid into the taxpaying-unit pipes, some of it will overflow into the retail pipes, and then to China. The only permissible subject of argument is how many gallons of liquid are needed to reach China.
This is phenomenally stupid and counterproductive. This is absolutely insane.
How to regain sanity? Start here: Humans have minds and souls and beliefs.
If the goal is to restore confidence,
we should work to restore confidence
instead of blindly pumping monetary units through the system and waiting for it to hit China.
One way to restore confidence is to provide jobs. Yes, government jobs.
Polistra has focused
repeatedly on WPA/CCC, but during the Depression government jobs of all sorts, local, state and federal, formed the foundation of renewed confidence.
Example: my Okie grandfather ran out of mechanic jobs in 1932, so he signed on as a school janitor. Less pay than mechanic work, but the city school system wasn't going to disappear.
This gave him confidence, which freed him to be a good father and a good citizen. And just incidentally freed him to spend money on necessities instead of hoarding it.
= = = = =
The Obama infrastructure package actually does the right thing, adding a lot of gummint jobs. Every one of those "pork projects" will give secure jobs to at least a few people for at least a year.
In the short run it doesn't matter if the projects create wealth, as long as they create confidence among American families. So why can't the Dems defend it on this deeply human basis, instead of playing the numbers game? The numbers game is exactly how we got into this mess.
In the long run, well-chosen public works projects do create wealth. Most of all they create the platform, the necessary conditions, for private generation of wealth. A smoothly functioning railroad system would be a national treasure. A modern electrical grid, invulnerable to icestorms and invulnerable to accidental or intentional "failure avalanches", would be a national treasure. In the '20s and '30s we appreciated the national wealth value of all these systems and grids: the Post Office, railroads, telegraph, telephone, radio, and electrical power. We used both regulation and nationalization to maintain and strengthen those treasures. In the modern era of deregulation, from Jimmy Carter to Phil Gramm, we have broken up those treasures and handed them to disjointed and often fraudulent businesses. Instead of designing and maintaining these national networks for national benefit, we have allowed them to be distorted and destroyed for the benefit of a few well-connected millionaires.
So yes, government can create jobs and government can create wealth. We must relearn this basic fact before we can grow and thrive again.