Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. You would think I’d be pretty handy with economics, seeing as that for someone with a political science degree, I am fairly skilled at math. On paper, it screams, or at minimum, shouts, economics. But no. Far from it, I always got C’s in most of my economics classes. I always felt there weren’t enough essays and too much multiple choice. But economics classes tended to be large at my school, and what professor wants to read 150 essays? (I mean, it’s only my parents’ tuition money. But I’m sure they had better things to do than, say, teach.)

So it’s with an ounce of trepidation that I put in my two cents about the economy, but I feel like I have to at least express my questions (that no one will read). The problem with doing this is that we are currently stuck in what I like to call the Age of Doctrine. To show you have principles and stand for something, your position has to be rooted in what is considered one of the two leading and competing philosophies of the moment. A strong point of view, a perspective. Or get out.

Well, what if the perspective of an observer is “I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m beginning to suspect most of you don’t, either”. Or “I’m not totally saying you’re wrong, but why the hell are you so sure you’re right?”

That’s pretty much where I stand on the issue of whether it’s time, as some think, for governments to move to austerity and deficit reduction, or as some others feel, the government better start spending to create jobs and other economic vehicles, because no else is.

While, like many, I do worry about government spending and debt, and what it means for our future long-term, the question that never quite seems to be answered, in my mind, is, why the blind faith in corporations to create jobs and innovation? If the government is not doing it, then who is going to? I’m not sold that today’s global corporations really can take up the slack, and really can be counted on to execute sound, long-term innovative thinking. Much like politicians making moves to get them through to the next campaign, most companies seem to be just trying to get from one shareholder’s meeting to the next, one CEO pay package to the next, and one product launch to the next.

All of which is fine, that’s what they’re supposed to be doing, for the most part. But should they really be burdened with this? And should we afford to hope that they’re willing to shoulder such burdens? I don’t know. (I know, I know, you’re not allowed to use such words when expressing an opinion. But this isn’t so much an opinion piece as an official declaration of doubt.) Most people who believe this never quite answer this question, because innovation and efficiency are supposed to flow from the private sector when left alone. Unfortunately, sometimes so do corruption, greed, and incompetence.

Which is what the anti-government crowd says is the problem with entrusting too much to government. Which is not entirely untrue, of course. The point is, though, are they also unaware of entrusting too much to corporations as well? Is that considered at any point? Because don’t kid yourselves, that’s, for the most part, who it’ll be on for job creation and growth.

Sorry, but I’m not really ready to buy that it’s small business. I keep hearing about small business and it’s role in driving the American economy, but I just don’t see it. At the end of day, small business seems to ebb and flow right along with the working people. A small business that comes up with a stunning innovation that revolutionizes the way business is done in America will become a big business. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If we’re counting on this, then shouldn’t the government and private capital be working to get more seed money than ever out there? There are certainly ideas, one would think. Because if there aren’t any out there, no amount of deficit spending or reduction will save your economy.

Like I said, I come not with answers, but with different questions, questions I’m not positive are being asked because of the “two and only two sides” way the debate is framed. I think they need to be asked, otherwise, this wacky global economy is just going to be spinning its wheels.

Advertisements