Linda J. Bilmes and Shelby Chodos: “Want to stimulate the economy? Let’s hand cash directly to the states“
A state-directed recovery initiative would be the quickest, easiest way to reduce unemployment and get the economy moving again. Congress would simply distribute money to the states, based on population and with no strings attached. Each state could use these funds however it chooses, whether by cutting taxes on small business and families, or by investing in education or infrastructure. …
The economic logic is compelling. The federal government can borrow money at historically low interest rates, meaning that almost anything we spend it on — infrastructure, schools, scientific research — will produce a positive return. The catch is that much of this money needs to be spent at the state and local level. States maintain infrastructure and spend more than a third of their tax dollars on education. But they are obliged to balance their budgets. Moreover, they lack access to the rock-bottom interest rates available to the U.S. Treasury.
While progressives and labor are arguing, sometimes viciously, over labor’s current sorry state, one thing progressives haven’t done is serious self-examination on how and where this abandonment of labor manifests itself, how it affects the very genetic makeup of liberal assumptions and major premises.
So I did a simple check: I went to the websites of three of the biggest names in liberal activist politics: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. Checking their websites, I was surprised to find that not one of those three organizations lists labor as a major topic or issue that it covers.
… It wasn’t always this way: Economic rights and workplace rights were for decades at the very heart of the human rights movement. This was officially enshrined in 1948, when the United Nations adopted a 30-point “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” putting labor rights and economic equality rights alongside those we’re more familiar with today, like freedom of expression, due process, religion and so on. But somehow, labor rights and economic justice have been effectively amputated from the human rights agenda and forgotten about, in tandem with the American left’s abandonment of labor.
Whether targeted killing by drones does more harm than good is far from a settled question. Just a day after the Times article, the Washington Post reported that drone strikes in Yemen are infuriating and radicalizing Yemenis, turning them into Al Qaeda sympathizers, and enabling Al Qaeda to expand its membership and the territory under its control. The Post raises the terrible thought that the president and his advisors, focused on their Power Point presentations and “baseball cards” of suspected militants, are missing something vital and conducting a campaign that may undermine national self-defense rather than secure it. That would be a moral failing, not merely a failure of self-interest. One of the classical criteria of just war, dating from the seventeenth century, is the requirement of reasonable likelihood of success. A counterproductive campaign is an unjust campaign, because it sheds blood and shatters peace to no good end. Whether the president’s strategy satisfies this criterion remains to be seen. He has a heavy reckoning to make.