Robert Reich – Some Follow Up Questions
Setting aside the fact that he apparently didn’t get Martin Luther King Jr.’s memo, can former Labor Secretary Robert Reich please clarify several confusing aspects of his remarks a couple of weeks ago in front of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee? Outlining what he believes should be the focus of President Obama’s economic stimulus, he said [h/t NewsBusters]
I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high school people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. I have nothing against white male construction workers. I’m just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well.
And therefore, in my remarks, I have suggested to you, and I’m certainly happy to talk about it more, ways in which the money can be — criteria can be set so that the money does go to others. The long- term unemployed, minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high skilled professionals.
1.) “high school people who are already professionals” [Edit: To quote Emily Litella, never mind. Andrew just pointed out that I mis-read “high skilled” as “high school”.]
Don’t most professionals possess education beyond the high school level? So are you opposed to high school graduates receiving government stimulus money or professionals receiving it?
2.) “there are a lot of other people who have needs as well”
So among all the needy people in the country, you wish Congress to choose certain ones who will receive this government largesse. What do you propose as their criteria for making this selection? Will such criteria identify those who are neediest? Or is that not a requisite?
3.) “people who are not necessarily construction workers or high skilled professionals”
Isn’t this stimulus money supposed to go to rebuild the national infrastructure? How would we accomplish that without employing construction workers, architects and engineers?
As to the theory that underlies his remarks:
And that vicious cycle is that because consumers don’t have the money, then businesses are not going to produce. And if businesses don’t produce, they’re going to lay people off. And if they lay people off people have even less money.
In fact, Mr. Reich indicates that much of the stimulus package should be spent on expanded unemployment benefits, food stamps and aid to state governments. Is there any indication, any basis to assert that directing large amounts of money in these particular directions will pull our economy out of its slump?
Further, stipulating for a moment that simply getting money into certain people’s hands as fast as possible however we do it is the right answer, whose money would we give them? Who would fund this massive distribution of government money?