THE CENTRAL ARGUMENT FOR GOOD CHANGE IS TO AUGMENT THE CIVILIAN STATE, BUT THE NEW YORK TIMES WILL NOT ALLOW TO TALK ABOUT IT.
In an excellent editorial,Paul Krugman (NYT, Jan 27, 2008 "Bad Faith Economics", observed that: "Cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a stimulus plan through as fraudulent arguments that seem superficially plausible." He criticized heavily "conservatives". In reply, I wrote the following, but it was not allowed for publication (although 307 comments were, most of them pretty obvious, and none of them talking about the subject below, although it is at the core of "Change You Can Believe In").
I was looking for an appropriate word to qualify these people who obstruct the "Recovery and Reinvestment" plan of Obama. Paul Krugman uses the word "conservatives", and I may use it too. The advantage is that people understand who we are talking about. The disadvantage is that it does not describe their mission well, but rather compliment them with the opposite of what they are. Because, in truth, far from conserving anything, they are rather busy destroying the country (while serving themselves).
The fact is all and any country, or even city, since civilization exists, and by definition of civilization, is a mix of the public economic activity and the private economic activity. Private is what functions best with the free market, motivated first by financial profit, public what functions best according to law, regulation and monopoly powers. For example when the State does not have the monopoly on the military, one gets a civil war. This happened at the end of the Roman republic, when, in practice, a few of the richest people each owned a part of the Roman army. Four centuries later, the Roman empire collapsed when the rich disconnected from the rest of society, with so much riches grabbed by, and for themselves, that the Roman army left outside was too small to defend the empire.
The private sector is less important than the public sector: Stalin fought Hitler with monstrous efficiency, and no private sector. Hitler mostly worked with a greedy private sector, with the result that he found himself with hundreds of half completed weapons projects at the end of the war. None of this non sense in the USA: Roosevelt installed a command economy run by a young Canadian, with very few weapon systems, and a total monopolization of the socioeconomy.
So the next question, that no serious American economist seems to have considered, is this: is the US State big enough as a government? The total size of the US government is 36% of US GDP (Fed plus states), but the USA spends at least 5% of that on the military. So we are left, in the USA, with a civilian State sector that is about 31% of GDP. That is two-third of the large European countries' States. Those have government that are 45% of GDP. Two of these, France and Germany, are resisting better than the third, Britain, mostly because they are more industrial and technological [Germany is the world number one exporter]. They are so, because their governments made them so. Trust the French and Germans to know where real power comes from.
There is plenty of evidence that the US State is too small to provide the country with the infrastructure it needs for its private economy. The best example is health care: private US companies are supposed to provide it, a subject of endless hilarity around the planet. In general US health care does only one thing really better: make a few of the rich richer. It costs twice more, and does less well than the competition.
Another example is the schooling system: at this rate of descent into illiteracy, an acculturation, one will soon have to import Indians to teach English and thinking to Americans. Also US science, for decades the best financed in the world, now is not so [European are running many basic experiments that the USA does not plan to, but the reciprocal is not true].
Trains are the most basic part of transportation (even in the USA), but, whereas the subsidy for roads is above 110 billions, that for trains is one billion (1%). France is presently building four high speed train lines [for 250 mph. 400 kph trains], and is in the diverse stage of elaborating and planning several others. Such lines are immensely expensive. The USA does not seem to have the money for them. The first French high speed train line was publicly financed, twenty-five years ago, the others have been self financed with private capital. It's the same picture around Europe, even in Russia (equipping itself with French and German trains, and technology transfers).
Barack Obama speaks instead about high speed Internet, as if it were high speed trains. But in France one can go anywhere, even in the deepest forest, and get extremely high speed broadband Internet (from satellite), basically for free.
To finance green energy, Obama will need money. No money, no green. Even US capitalist know that. So he needs a users' tax. Namely a tax on carbon, a tax on hydrocarbons. Yes, that will grow the government. So what?
Organizing a bigger turkey shoot in Afghanistan also grows the government. But instead of health care, schools, students and high speed rail, one gets blood, bombs, pathetic little ribbons, hatred, and an ineluctable defeat. Some choice.