Friday, February 6, 2009

what to do with $819 billions dollars worth of non perfection?

In my gut I feel it is no more appropriate to become alarmed two weeks into President Obama’s administration than it would be to become alarmed two weeks into a bad start of a Yankee or Met season. I enthusiastically voted Mr. Obama for President. I voted for purposeful and sensible change. I voted for intelligence and honesty. I voted for innovation and new ideas. I voted for integrity. And I voted for hope.

When ‘we the people’ are preparing to spend $819 billion dollars on top of many other lofty sums already spent, then I think it is reasonable to take a moment for review before dotting the i's and crossing the t’s. Much of what The President says about this package surrounding money for education, health care, infrastructure projects, renewable energy and jobs makes sense to me and sounds purposeful. In fact, when trying to extract some lessons learned from what Japan did in the 1990’s to stimulate their economy there seems to be a worthy argument for The President to consider an even larger Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. But, comparisons between countries and over different time periods can prove to be difficult and inconclusive. Uncertainties regarding the optimal size, scope and potential impact now and in the future that this stimulus package would wield does cause me to have some reservations. My trepidations don’t arise from a need to question Mr. Obama’s intelligence. My apprehensions also do not primarily hinder on the astuteness of his advisers, even though few experts saw clearly ahead to the mess we find ourselves in currently. My apprehension stems from execution. Who exactly is going to oversee the spending of these funds?

As enthusiastic as I am about President Obama still, he is only manning the front door of this proposed second bailout package. Who will be the watchdogs? I was a bit disturbed this past week by this administration’s initial nonchalant attitude regarding non-payment of taxes by public officials. Nonchalance is not a demeanor we can afford to have permeating its way around hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, some elected officials in Washington, lobbyists, bankers, and Wall Street executives still seem to have no qualms about keeping alive old traditions of shoveling their share (to be kind), their take to be accurate, out the back door. President Obama has stated ‘no plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger.’ Precisely because no plan is perfect is why we cannot afford to not take a closer look before taking action. If we need a few more days in order to make the right call, then let’s do it. Individually, and collectively I do not like to make decisions out of fear and desperation. I think Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have understood that best of all. Rather, I think that we, as a country, need to have fortitude and base our decisions on careful assessments of the reality that we face. This means that we need to welcome our ability to critique our leaders, and voice our differences—for that remains to be America’s priceless asset.

I would be less than honest if I did not say that I am a bit uneasy watching this administration and a Great Nation participate in a seemingly growing trend of rushed decision making, seeded from a perpetual fear of doom. I believe we need to have more faith and hope in our abilities and our lives. We obviously need to take bold actions in order to stimulate our economy and steer ourselves in a more prosperous and practical direction. But, let’s not be afraid to pause for a moment, so that we can put the best plan in place with the best execution in mind. Doom could also be misspending $750 billion plus $819 billion dollars plus X in order to only buy enough time to get to the future. That would leave all of us woefully short changed down the line.

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