Now For the Hard Part...

Two weeks ago in this space I called for equal opportunity guarantees in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ensuring equal and expanded opportunity for all, I argued, will be crucial to a broad and lasting economic recovery that upholds our nation’s values.

I’m happy to report that, while the legislation did not include these specific protections, the Obama Administration included them explicitly in it’s Office of Management and Budget’s instructions to federal agencies on their implementation of the Act. That’s a policy-wonky way of saying that the Administration is holding itself accountable for ensuring that recovery investments promote equal opportunity.

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Virginity college fund offers hit $3.8 million, other American students hit hard, few options.

The average cost of a college education in a state university is now approaching $100,000. Costs at many private schools run far higher. Many students are realizing they may never be able to afford college. Meanwhile, many high-tech businesses are fleeing the US because of its lack of recent technically skilled graduates and high housing and especially, healthcare costs.

Do you support her prostitution for college cash for Natalie Dylan and her sister?

So, as millions of young Americans are now discovering that even the most optimistic projections of income to their parents college savings accounts will make college still unaffordable to them, this enterprising young woman has hit on a new twist to a time-honored scheme to make college affordable for both herself and her sister.

The oldest profession.

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Consumer driven economic imbalances

The following reprents postings in OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY, a moderate conservative forum. The issue arose when Martin Feldstein criticized the stimulus spackage for allowing individuals to squirrel away $500.00. [Edited for continuance].

The problem with the current consumer driven approach is that we are feeding the money towards the end of its velocity probably to be shipped abroad and thus continuing the unbalances that are one of the roots of the current problem. Savings on the other hand places the money in the early cycle of transactional movement and thus stabilizes currency (banks) and does stir investment. This is not to say one or another is right or wrong- the key is to find right balance- the current consumer driven society, probably in its last legs, is wasting assets by sheer expenditure of crap (for lack of a better word) created by short term goals. A post consumerist society would improve the standard of living by improving quality. Instead of purchasing disposable goods that last 1-2 years- with a little more effort we can have to same goods but better produced lasting twice/three times as long-this goes to PCs, light bulbs, automobiles and toasters- not to mention edibles-medication, etc. The better (surviving) companies strategized long term-so should consumers. Part of the problem is that instant gratification is easy to market and sales is what we do best in an open society; but these approaches affect us all in the long term- tactics (sales gimmicks) such as teaser rates merely serve to push back a much needed balance. The bottom line is that the economy has been due for a substantial contraction and the issue really is whether we have a soft landing or a crash.

Can one advocate 90-99% consumer driven GDP? Consumption is not good or bad per se. It is the type of consumption that is affecting the economy. The numbers show an imbalance seen nowhere else, in part because of the twin deficits. The point is that we can consume and maintain our standard of living, but it is going to require a different approach; the current approach is deteriorating our quality of life as evidenced by the fact that a majority of Americans have not seen earning growth in thirty years. We live in an unsustainable economy. Does one  honestly believe a society can go on forever with $720 yearly bill trade deficits (to be sure- that's an absolute number- in real economic terms-the number is 5% and that is what should be considered). As long as GDP growth is sub par to trade deficits it will be economically necessary (meaning it WILL happen) to suffer a contraction down the line.

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Remember the Ladies

"In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors."ABIGAIL ADAMS TO JOHN ADAMS, MARCH 31, 1776

One of the most important pieces of legislation we'll soon be acting on in Congress is a national economic recovery package. A large portion of the new federal spending--perhaps  as much as 20 percent--will be focused on infrastructure construction, including transportation and school projects, energy efficiency improvements, and green economy investments such as smart grid expansions.

While President-Elect Obama is to be applauded for proposing a recovery plan that focuses on a wide number of areas, including education and healthcare,  the proposed infrastructure spending in the plan overwhelmingly benefits men and won't be of much help to unemployed women. In 2007, only 9.4 percent of the 11.9 million workers in the construction industry were female and in major infrastructure occupations with an employment base of 100,000 jobs, women held only about 3.9 percent of jobs. Without efforts to increase workforce diversity, this could lead to a massive shift of hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth from women to men.

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A test for socialism

Soft left, labor left or social democratic, whichever words you use to describe it, the Obama / Pelosi recipe for fixing our ailing economy is socialist, i.e., "making needed investments in infrastructure, alternative energy, science and other emerging sectors and providing middle-class tax cuts to help make work pay."

I use the word "socialist" not as a pejorative, but accurately. The Obama / Pelosi plan calls for Keynesian redistributive economic policy combined with record setting federal involvement in the economy.

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