I was surprised and heartened to see this piece by Eliot Spitzer in Slate:
This moment presents the administration with what is likely to be its best—and perhaps only—opportunity to have essentially unlimited capital (both fiscal and political) to spend on a transformative economic agenda. It is a unique moment to build a new foundation. It would be wise to ensure that a significant portion of the stimulus package is spent on new investments that may not be quite as ready to go but are surely more important to our long-term economic viability. There are many such critical investments, but here are a few for consideration. These are not, of course, the only ideas, and they may not be the best ideas. But they should spur discussion of how to use the fiscal stimulus not just to put people to work but also to build the over-the-horizon projects that will set the stage for the next great American economic miracle.
He goes on to list a few good ideas that include upgrading our energy infrastructure to allow us more efficient delivery of alternative fuels and to improve our internet backbone, which, I would guess would include making high-speed internet available to people in rural areas and wi-fi access widely available in our cities and towns.
If I can add items to Spitzer’s wish-list I’d also like to see:
- An investment in high-speed passenger trains. They’re energy efficient, fast, and affordable. In the US, we are severely lacking in any high-speed rail systems that would provide the airlines with some needed competion.
- Rebuild the nonprofits! In the US, we really don’t have much of a welfare state and it’s doubtful that we ever will. Nonprofits take the place of the welfare state in our country. So why not invest in nonprofit capital projects so our people are able to access health care, housing, and social services in buildings that are not on the verge of crumbling to the ground?
- Alternative energy is where our future is. Let’s invest money in research into solar, wind, hydrogen and any other potential energy source that will help us achieve energy independence.
- Mass transit! Too few of our major cities have decent mass transit systems. Washington, New York, San Francisco and Chicago come to mind, but most medium-sized US cities have poor mass transit. Invest in light-rail systems to help commuters get to work cheaply and efficiently.
We have a great opportunity here to build for our future. President-Elect Obama, let’s not blow this chance.