Radio commentary, November 14, 2009
[November 12 was the first new show I did on WBAI since the fundraising began in mid-October. Most of the opening commentary was a reprise of the previous week’s analysis of the October employment report, which the New York audience didn’t hear, though the California audience did. The following are the only fresh bits in this week’s punditry.]
Now, the usual words on the economic news. In general, we continue to see signs of stabilization, but no serious signs of a turnaround. I suppose that coming after such a deep recession, a period of feet-finding can be expected, but it’s still a long way from even an overture to anything resembling prosperity. And since there have been essentially no structural reforms of the U.S. economy, or even a serious discussion of same, I’m wondering if anything resembling prosperity is in our near future.
[October employment dissection redacted.—Ed.]
And now a few words on the stimulus. I’ll have more to say about all this in a few weeks, since I’m reserving the details for an article for my newsletter, Left Business Observer, and subscribers will get first dibs on it, but I’ll just say a couple of quick things for now. (All the stats are here.) One is that spending so far is quite small—about 1% of GDP has been actually disbursed and received. By contrast, the WPA during the 1930s spent about twice that much—and built thousands of schools, rebuilt thousands of hospitals, repaved 280,000 miles of road, etc. No one is even talking about anything like that now. And two, the spending by state is kind of amazing. Toward the top of the list, measured against total income in the state, are small places like Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. Toward the bottom, a lot of big ones: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut among them. California just missed making the bottom 10. Fascinating how Washington redistributes money away from states that are more liberal towards those that are most conservative—and most likely to rail against Washington. Can we just cut them off?