Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stimulus Talk

"I can't tell you for sure that everything in the plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure will only deepen this crisis."

President Barack Obama, quoted in: Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Helene Cooper, "He Says That Failing to Act Could Lead to a Catastrophe," New York Times, February 10, 2009.

The last time I thought about Elkhart, Indiana was about 25 years ago when I went on a mercy mission with a colleague from the City of Chicago to plead the case for keeping Ludwig Drum in Chicago, slow down the closure, or at least commit to re-using the building for industrial purposes. Elkart specializes in musical instrument manufacturers--and one of them had bought Ludwig. We failed on all counts, 125 workers lost their jobs, and the building, in Bucktown, got lofted. Now Elkhart has 15 percent unemployment. The RV business tanked.

I felt like a party pooper after talking with a non-scientific sample of colleagues about the stimulus. One said: "They're cutting "our" programs." Another said: "Obama should double the amount and include all our programs. Look how much they spent during the last eight years -- and for what." Finally, a hopefull fundraiser said: "The city put two urban farms on it's list of shovel ready." I like programs but I'm taken by the idea of what a stimulus is supposed to do.

"It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

Franklin Roosevelt speech, penned by Ernest K Lindley, in: Jonathan Alter, Defining Moment

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