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With the government throwing money at a failing financial system, I suggest we are losing a unique opportunity to reform and restructure our economy. Rather than put our tax dollars in the hands of institutions to trickle down to the rest of us, we should make investments in our future and give the rest to citizens to spend so that our money rises up the financial ladder.
First, the growing consensus that massive infrastructure expenditures is one of the best ways to reinvigorate the economy makes immanent sense. We have neglected our public facilities for so many years we are in danger of seeing our systems which once set the standard for the world crumble as we descend to second-world status.
But this time around the emphasis should not be on highways and airports but rather public transportation systems. We need a complete rebuilding of our rail systems, both local, regional and nationally. California has once again jumped ahead with the recent passage of an initiative to develop a high speed rail connection running from San Diego to San Francisco. Such a move not only enhances transportation options but is environmentally sound.
Yes, we need to replace and repair many roadways and bridges, but even more we need to use our tax dollars to reconstitute the very nature of our large population centers. Investments in public transportation and infrastructure that emphasizes transit hubs will help us move away from the culture destroying suburban sprawl that has atomized our neighborhoods and led to isolation and decay of the communal fabric.
We need to plan ahead for climate changes that will undoubtedly make dramatic changes to our coastlines and agricultural areas. We must plan for the power, water and ecological needs of the next century to support an ever burgeoning population.
Amid the push for aid to every financially ailing institution and economic sector, we should rethink how this money will be distributed. Rather than give yet another bailout to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, we should let them sort out their business model on their own. Giving money to people so they can afford the kind of vehicles mandated by stringent fuel economy standards would accomplish the goal or rescuing those companies that can adapt and produce vehicles that support our long range goals.
Providing much longer and more sustaining payments to our unemployed, including reaching back to those who are no longer counted in the government numbers system would do much to revitalize our economy. Putting money in the hands of consumers seems to me to be a no brainer in a consumer based economy.
What does not make sense is to pour more money into a financial system that is the cause of the problem in the first place. We have developed a very unhealthy dependence on debt and spending future earnings today. This is a sickness that needs curing, not enabling.
Let financial institutions reform themselves by returning to sound fiscal policies, don’t reward them and their management for bad judgment. The bailout should be to the people who need bailing out – we the people – not business and financial institutions.
Yes, if we are going to socialize our economy lets at least do it the right way. Socialize for the benefit of the average citizen, not big money interests.