Yale professor Robert Shiller has become the latest big name to try to persuade Americans that it would be smart for the country to spend big money to fix our crumbling infrastructure.
We’re like a farm in winter.
In winter, Shiller says, farmers have time to fix barns and tractors and do other stuff that they don’t have time to do during the summer. And everyone on the farm pitches in, because they don’t have anything else to do. This gives folks valuable work to do, and it improves the farm.
And right now, Shiller says, we’re the equivalent of a farm in winter. So it’s time to get out there and start fixing and building stuff.
A huge infrastructure-spending initiative, Shiller observes, would:
- Put construction workers back to work.
- Create better infrastructure that would help people (and make America less embarrassing relative to other first world countries).
- Stimulate the economy.
And President Obama’s plan, Shiller observes, pays for this infrastructure with a 6% surtax on incomes of greater than $1 million a year.
Now, maybe you know some folks who live so large that $1 million a year seems like a middle-class salary, but most people don’t. And although there are undoubtedly some $1+ million earners who will howl that a 6% surtax above $1 million is so burdensome that they will decide to hit the chaise longue instead of working, most self-respecting $1+ million earners will admit that such a surtax wouldn’t have the slightest impact of their work ethic.
So don’t go screaming about how this tax would just punish success and clobber the economy — it wouldn’t.
And don’t go screaming about how spending, say, $1 trillion over the next three years building a nationwide broadband network, new schools, new airports, new train stations, new bridges, and new roads would be so colossally expensive that the country would collapse. We already have $15 trillion of debt. What’s another trillion in the grand scheme?
(No, I don’t mean to make light of the massive debt-and-deficit problem this country has. I just mean to point out that it won’t be a trillion or two of infrastructure spending that makes or breaks us. It will be the tens of trillions of dollars we’ll eventually have to pony up for our entitlement programs. THOSE definitely need to be reformed.)
I think Shiller’s right about that infrastructure spending. If you don’t, read this: Here’s What’s Wrong With Our Economy.
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