Oh, man, that fog of war. Sweat and smoke in your eyes. Not always sure what you’re shooting at.
One minute you try to nail the enemy — Barack Obama — as a Muslim who won’t fess to it. Then your new commanding general, Glenn Beck, directs fire at him for liberation (Christian) theology.
Obama, the enemy, is an inert job killer. Obama, the enemy, is a hyper-speed spender — and so what if a few jobs emanate?
Well, guess what? A few jobs emanated — about 3 million — directly linked to the Recovery and Investment Act signed a year and a half ago.
That’s from an independent report in which one of the economists contributing, Mark Zandi (he backed John McCain in 2008), says the bill averted “Great Depression 2.0.”
Our jobless rate of 9.6 percent percent? It would be 11 percent otherwise, the report says, and 16.5 percent without the added rescue of banks.
We switch you now to the nearest Tea Party rally, which wouldn’t hear such a thing — couldn’t hear it, anyway, with its bullhorns at jet-engine decibels.
Ah, those anti-spending absolutists. I presume you heard the howls and screeches last week when another report came out: that more than 10 percent of the $50 billion spent on Iraqi reconstruction evaporated into desert dust. Our Tea Party types would not have stood for that. Right?
Wrong. Most of these anti-spending sentinels were worse than silent in their red, white and blue vestments. They were patriotically pliant: on the off-budget funding of the Iraq incursion, on the Bush Pentagon’s “cost-plus” approach for overpaying for just about everything contractors like Halliburton and KBR did in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters.
No, from this volume-adjusted segment of society, not a peep was heard back then. Only when Barack Obama became the enemy did fiscal obscenities become — obscene.
This is ironic, and odd. I mean, if our county is going to be extravagant with our money, you’d think most folks would want the extravagance to benefit our own children, our own highways, our own hospitals — rather than those of swarthy, sworn enemies.
Well, Obama and majority Democrats set out to do the former, spend money on our needs, in a moment of dire economic peril and . . . behold, he became the enemy.
The debt! The debt! So shout the aggrieved. You can’t argue with the scope of the debt problem, except that if you are going to borrow, you at least ought to have a proper justification for it, and expect a payback — like 3 million jobs in not quite two years.
At this point, we direct the assembled protesters to cup their ears and hum very loudly. Something else they don’t want to hear is in the current Time magazine under the title, “How the stimulus is changing America.”
Where is all that money going? Along with crucial domestic aims like highways, schools and hospitals (ours, not Iraq’s), it’s going to more innovation and far-sighted thinking than any American endeavor since the moon-shot mobilization.
The endgame of this innovation stands to be far more than a lunar footprint and a bag of moon rocks, however.
In this case it’s clean and more dependable energy: wind, solar, fuel cells. It’s energy conservation, such as retrofitting three of four federal buildings (the U.S. government being the nation’s largest energy consumer).
Stimulus dollars are being poured into making the nation’s electric grid more dynamic, making our electric meters smarter and increasing our means of storing and distributing wind and solar power.
Oh, and while we’re at it:
Here’s something else about where the money is going. As opposed to the no-bid contracts that by which Halliburton and Blackwater engorged themselves, the stimulus bill’s allocations are based on real, honest-to-goodness, due-diligence competition among bidders. That form of fiscal responsibility, writes Time, is “the Recovery Act’s deeper reform.”
Now, once again: It may bother you that we are spending anything at all, with a national debt exceeding $13 trillion. The bumper sticker says, “Don’t tell Obama what comes after ‘trillion.'”
To those adorning their chrome with those words, let's try these words: Did ya see where those other trillions went?
Former longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. firstname.lastname@example.org.