Friday, February 20, 2009

Stimulus Doctor

When one talks about treating a terminally ill patient, I can imagine three general options. 1) No treatment, the patient accepts the situation and decides that this is the best path; 2) Prolong life as long as possible through standard procedures, maybe you catch a lucky break, maybe the diagnosis was wrong, but prolong the situation; 3) Try some radical new procedure that may lead to a breakthrough in medicine, possibly curing the patient, but at least bringing new insights into medical technology.  I think Obama and Congress so far are attempting (2) and (3). They are trying (2) by prolonging the status quo, hoping for some insight or an opportunity to make the right decision. They are trying (3) to the extent that the Keynesian multiplier has a pretty dismal history of success, but maybe this time, it will work; maybe this time we have the right combination of tax cuts and spending spending, and we have the right sizes of tax cuts and spending.

Well, the problem with this strategy is that the patient is NOT TERMINALLY ILL. America's GDP is not going to spiral to zero and America is not going to cease to exist. I think it is important for Congress to realize that America is extremely resourceful and will figure things out. Not to make sweeping generalizations or anything, but Americans have turned into wimps. We expect things to always go our way and any bump in the road is cause for calamity. Are things bad now? Yes. Will they get worse? Yes. Is that natural? YES! Instead of pumping this patient full of crazy drugs and praying that it gets better, how about prescribing some Advil and get out of the way.

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