Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 213- Why I need to date an economist

Dear Mr. President,

The sun over Seattle was an odd but not unpleasant orange for most of the evening. When I got off work at 5, I thought it interesting enough to compel me to walk through the park on my way home in order to extend my time outdoors. I saw a mural being painted, a giant face and brilliantly colored shapes. It's beautiful, and eye-catching, and generally an improvement over the formerly solid-red wall surrounding the massive light rail construction area near the park. This got me thinking about the WPA and the ways that investing in public art could help unemployment. Once I got home, I read up on the WPA and thought of a number of complications that make it perhaps not the most practical solution to our current problems. Also, I saw Sarah Palin talking about the Bush tax cuts. All of this made me realize that my next boyfriend, for sure, is going to be an economist. I figure my poor luck with choosing dates based on attraction means I should probably start dating men who can help fill gaps in my education, and economics is one enormous gap. I suppose being friends with an economist would also work, so long as I could call them at the slightest provocation and ask for help understanding things like depression-era social programs.

Luckily, Fareed Zakaria is basically my boyfriend an economist. "We have to pay for the government we want," he reminds us, in his analysis of the expiring tax cuts. We all have a responsibility to contribute to the programs that make our country better, our society more stable and comfortable, and that look out for the less fortunate. This, of course, is a lot easier to hear and understand because it jives with my own political philosophy and didn't come out of the mouth of Sarah Palin. (Who, by the way, needs to make her next boyfriend an irony expert, since she apparently doesn't see why using the word "cojones" to describe what Jan Brewer is using to defend a law largely designed to oppress Latinos might make her sound a bit ridiculous.) But I'd like to think that, even if the suggestion had come from a respectable member of the opposition, I would have the knowledge necessary to understand their logic and support my own arguments against it. So add "economics" to the list of things I'm going to make an effort to learn more about (in case you've been too distracted running the country to keep track, the list so far includes Yemen, the federal budget process, and green energy alternatives.) I'm not willing to speak for any one else in this matter, but I'm guessing that I'm not the only American struggling to get a clear picture of the economic effects of these decisions. Zakaria, Paul Krugman, and the geniuses over at the freakonomics blog will have to help me, for now.

And so, while I fully admit my own lack of anything resembling expertise when it comes to this, I hope that the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, and that future stimulus projects go toward extending unemployment benefits (or even funding murals-painting, road-fixing and other public works projects.) Even Alan Greenspan agrees with this, which makes me think that the logic is probably sound. I understand why Republicans feel the need to fight for a tax policy that favors their supporters, but I think it is clear that such a policy would be contrary to our country's immediate needs and long-term interests. Your administration has had to make a number of compromises in the process of passing important legislation for the sake of politics, but I hope that, in this case, what is best for our nation is allowed to take precedent over what is going to please top campaign contributors. Also, just in case I'm not the only one having a hard time understanding this debate, Democrats might want to work on explaining things as clearly (though, hopefully, less ridiculously) than Sarah Palin.

Respectfully yours,


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