David Brooks proposes a National Mobility Project as a better way for the Federal government to reverse the economic doldrums.
In times like these, the best a sensible leader can do is to take the short-term panic and channel it into a program that is good on its own merits even if it does nothing to stimulate the economy over the next year. That’s why I’m hoping the next president takes the general resolve to spend gobs of money, and channels it into a National Mobility Project, a long-term investment in the country’s infrastructure.
Build stuff we need, he says, rather than shoveling money into bailouts, tax credits and rebates that haven't been shown to work. At least when money goes into infrastructure, some actual jobs are created and we get a highway or rail line at the end.
It's not that simple, of course. There's still the question of where the infrastructure gets built (Alaska, Arizona or Michigan; city, suburb or rural); what gets built or replaced (roads, water projects, bridges, light rail, bike paths or border fences); who gets the contracts; and how it fits in with the long term health of the nation (energy development and consumption, sprawl, sustainability).
Still it beats trickle down by a long shot. And I can still walk trails and roads built the last time we tried this, during the last depression.