Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Organic foods like these melons at a Portland farmers market are chosen by many who want to avoid toxins.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
More stimulus spending would help the unemployed
This is in response to Bill Thornton's letter of Aug. 26 ("Economics commentary strikes out"). I challenge Mr. Thornton's main thrust, which is that the greatest threat Americans now face is federal debt, and, therefore, federal spending must be reined in. Our greatest threat today is not federal debt. It is mass unemployment and the mass suffering this unemployment is causing. Thirteen million people are unemployed.
Americans are unemployed because Americans aren't spending, and understandably so. Prior to the crash of 2008, American households went on a borrowing spree. When these households realized they were heavily in debt, they stopped spending, which is good, although only up to a point. Because when millions of citizens stop spending, millions of citizens are without income.
Everybody slashing spending at the same time is self-defeating.
America needs somebody to step in and play the role of spender, and that somebody is the federal government. President Obama's economic stimulus was broadly ineffective only because it was too small and too short-lived.
It is time to take action again, to borrow again. The markets are more than willing to lend to the U.S. government on a long-term basis. As I write, the interest rate on 10-year bonds is 1.68 percent -- very attractive.
The money we could safely borrow could put 2 million people immediately to work at the state and local levels as cops, firefighters and, above all, schoolteachers.
This spending alone could drop the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. With reasonable government spending, we could be back to robust employment across America in two years.
Of course, for this to have even a speck of a chance, we must re-elect President Obama. I believe Mr. Thornton's austerity prescription, which is in lockstep with current Republican ideology, will only increase our suffering.
Licenses for bicyclists might improve safety
Today I almost hit a cyclist who ran a stop sign and cut in front of me. I blew the horn at him and he gave me the finger. Had this been a car, it would have been a sure collision.
With so many cyclists on the road, and many with a sense of entitlement who refuse to obey the rules, isn't it time we considered licensing and taxing them the same as motorists for the privilege?