Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tomorrow's National Joke (or) Cat Stuck in a Tree Once More

It Would Be Funny, If It Weren’t So Pathetic:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the Republicans will release an alternate budget proposal to the Nation.

And Tomorrow, April 1st, as Every American Schoolboy Knows, Is:

April Fool's Day!

These Are Serious Times in America. Millions of Americans find themselves and their families in straitened circumstance.

And Yet the Republicans Keep Working to give us the laughs. Such as last week's Republican budget-that-wasn't-a-budget.....disputed by another Republican, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin....who will release another Republican budget—that may or may not turn out to be an actual budget. Tomorrow.

Sadly, Republican Humor Is No More Successful than its economic ideology and its empirically flawed ideas.

And We Have No Evidence Even that these humorous episodes are deliberate.

One Can Hardly Help Feeling Sorry for these illegitimate scions of America’s long-dead political past—

But Then, That Is in the Nature of Liberal-Minded Americans: to feel sorry for others, regardless of how much they are responsible for their folly.

A Republican/Cat Analogy

In the Hearts of Mainstream Americans, the Republican Party is like the cat caught up too high in a tree:
  • The cat’s independence gets it into these messes.
  • The cat’s intransigence makes it refuse assistance, from even the most-public-minded firemen rescue team.
  • And yet society in general has to expend the time and the money to send out the firemen, and put up the ladder, and try to rescue that darn cat.

The Cat’s Little Secret—which every good Conservative Republican knows—is that she can either be rescued or left alone.

Either Way, That Cat Is Going to Land on its Feet, back down on the ground.

The Cat’s Mews That We Hear—from former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson pleading for the rescue of the banking “cats” on Wall Street....

....to the auto-industry “cats” in Detroit....

....and from Congressman John Boehner announcing an alternate budget proposal that isn't a budget....

....to Congressman Paul Ryan insisting that the announced budget proposal is not the real budget proposal....

—Don't Mean Anything in terms of the health and welfare of the cats.

These Republican Fat Cats Are Going to Land Just Fine.

It’s All of the Rest of America—the fire-truck mechanics who repair the trucks, and the workers who build the fire-trucks, and the firemen themselves—who could stand to be rescued.

So Here It Is, Our Best Hope: that we leave those Republican “cats” up in the trees where they’ve climbed. We can leave them meowing away as loud and as whiny as former Republican Congressman Phil Gramm once said that Americans are....

It’s Time We Just Forgot about These Republicans—alternate budgets and whining about bailouts and laments of “Terror” and all. Let’s turn our attention to the urgent business of rebuilding the American economy and restoring order in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But First, Let's Take One Last, Good Look at the Republicans and their alternate budget proposal. Coming tomorrow:

April Fools!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Constant Carping of the Conservatives (Part 2)

When Is a Budget Not a Budget?

Earlier This Week, the Republican House Minority Leader, John Boehner of Ohio, released an eighteen-page pamphlet which he presented as an alternative budget. The presentation was a sad spectacle. It was presented as an argument against President Barack Obama’s assertion that the Republicans had not presented an alternative budget. But the “budget” that Congressman Boehner flashed to the media was only 18 pages long—and lacked figures.

Then, Later, Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan Stepped Forward to report,
“There was some confusion as to what was released on Thursday; that was not our alternative budget.”
According to Congressman Ryan, Congressman Boehner’s pamphlet presented:
“a broader Republican economic agenda.”
But Here’s What Congressman Boehner Actually Said:
“Two nights ago, the President said, ‘We haven’t seen a budget yet out of Republicans. Well, it’s not true, because.....here it is, Mr. President.”
Constant Reader, See and Hear the Video for Yourself:
Republican Budget Proposal

So Which Republican Leader (If Any) Is Telling the Truth?

Listening to Both Republican Gentlemen, it’s hard to tell.
  • Was there a Republican budget at the time that President Obama said that there wasn't one?
  • Was Congressman Boehner's pamphlet without numbers actually a budget?
  • Was Congressman Boehner's budget actually the Republican alternative budget?
  • Is Congressman Ryan really the Republican Representative who is going to present the Republican alternate budget next week?
If One Did Not Know Better, one might think that these Republicans are just “playing politics” with the American people—at a time when many Americans have more-urgent things to do then to decipher what the Republicans mean right now, what they stand for besides the familiar “lower the taxes” and “cut Democratic spending.”

Republicans Don’t Usually Seem to Have Anything Better to Do these days than to play politics. Going back to Congressman Phil Gramm, who lobbied to destroy the Glass-Steagall Act and then called America, “a nation of whiners,” these folks clearly don’t get it.

With All Due Respect, the Republicans just don’t get it.

How Liberals and Conservatives Serve America Best

Here's Our Prescription for America's Best Political Future:

Let American Liberals—the Democrats—Drive the Dream Forward, as they always have. But there is still a role for Conservatives in American government.

America Can Use the “Constant Carping of the Conservatives” to remind us not to spend too much. Not to tax too much. Not to make a government too large. No government that interferes too much in the personal and economic lives of it citizens.

Conservative Opinion Notwithstanding, Our Representative Government Has a legitimate role overall: to do those things necessary, which we cannot do individually. Such as coordinating the overall health and welfare of the nation–from roads and defense to accountable financial institutions and health care.

When Should Government Save and When Should Government Spend?

When the People Cannot Afford to Save, then government should curtail its spending and do the saving on our behalf.

When the People Cannot Risk Spending on infrastructure and new jobs, then government should expand its infrastructure programs. As President Obama said in Tuesday night’s press conference–and as we wrote here previously–necessary infrastructure of the future, built today, borrows expenses from the future. Which expenses borrowed now will contribute in the future to re-balancing the budget. And to restoring a healthy economy.

And the Value of a Balanced Budget and a Healthy Economy are a combination that all Americans can agree on.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Constant Carping of the Conservatives (Part 1)

The Persistent Republican Mistake

Conservative American Economic Theory Tells Us that government spending never achieves anything good for us. That big-government efforts always fail. And what’s worse, that big programs always prolong the economic downturns that they are meant to resolve.

The Loudest Example of This Theory is the alleged failure of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” efforts during the Great Depression.

Conservatives Consistently Repeat the Mistaken Notion that the New Deal Failed. And then next, they repeat that “the Great Depression didn’t end until World War II.”

Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan said that very thing this morning, on NPR’s Morning Edition: “We borrowed so much money [under the New Deal]; we ran up the debt. We didn't get out of the Depression until World War II came along.”

Read the NPR Story Yourself:
GOP’s Ryan: ‘Budget Exploits The Economic Crisis’

The Great Republican Riddle:

If Big Spending Didn't Improve Things in the Great Depression,
How Did It Do the Job with the Second World War?

Such Flawed, Conservative Thinking led America into the current mess. And so long as Conservatives put out this screwy combination of premises, the quality of their logic remains suspect.

NEXT: “When Is a Budget Not a Budget?”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Fear Factor

Science Has Recently Explained the odd behavior of the United States under the administration of former president George W. Bush.

It Seems That Conservative People are generally more fearful than liberal people.

Apparently This Is Scientific Fact. (Let’s ignore for the moment what conservative Americans think about “science” and its “facts.”)

It Was Conservative Fear that got us to invade Iraq, in order to protect ourselves here at home. It was conservative fear that tried to give us a no-cost war, ignoring the economic reality that you have to pay for what you get. Now the nation has to pay for the years of Republican terror, ideologically driven tax cuts, and reckless spending.

Now Conservative Fear of the Costs of Their Mismanagement—from 1980 to the present, and entirely from 2001 to 2007—has them terrified. Meanwhile, all American taxpayers must pay the price.

Like Deer in Headlights

It Is Not that Republicans Want to Block the Hand on the Nation’s Tiller. It’s just that they are so terrified of what may happen during the restoration process—with the huge increase in debt that was already at historic levels—that they don’t know what else to do.

Republican Leaders in Congress, and the legion of media pundits who enable them, are frozen like deer in the headlights of Keynesian economics.

“The Land of the Safe and the Home of the Cowardly” are not the way we describe ourselves in “The Star Spangled Banner.” But these terms describe the practice of the Bush administration, following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Conservatives shifted into fear mode.

And This Is the Cowardice that We Witness Today. According to science, conservatives cannot help themselves.

It Is No Accident That the Bush Administration’s effort to restore the country following September 11th was called the “War on Terror.” Because “terror” is what conservatives feel, on a physiological basis.

They Can’t Help It. It’s in their genes.

Even Now, Our Former Vice-President is out on the media trail, trying to pin the blame on President Obama for Dick Cheney’s cowardice. One can see the terror in the poor man’s eyes.

And So Now While We All Worry Our Way Forward, out of this mess caused by “trickle-down economics” and a selfishly fickle dedication to our own interests abroad, the Republicans can’t help dragging against what America needs to do to get back on course.

When Things Get Scary, Every Family Has a Few Timid Members who cower in the corner during a crisis. It is up to the rest of us, under the Obama/Biden leadership, to take the real risks.

We Will Likely Not Get Any Apology from the Republicans for what they have done. But we Americans are one nation, indivisible. The Republicans, useless as they show themselves to be in the current challenge, are part of America.

Let Them Continue to Whine and to Moan. We will all somehow get through this together.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's Taking Him So Long?

[They say a little facetiousness never hurt anybody.....]

How Many Weeks Does It Take to Fix a Country? For Barack Obama, it's been more than two months!

Enough Is Enough!

President Obama: Your Time Is Up. Your fifteen minutes are over....

If You Can’t Get the Job Done Before the Quarterly Financial Reports Come Out, maybe we should get someone else.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Soup-Can Artist Andy Warhol famously said that, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Heck! Two months is a lot longer than fifteen minutes. "Fifteen minutes of fame." Fifteen minutes to fix the country. What's the difference?

The Fifteen Minutes of President Barack Obama Are Over. In his place, let’s get Dick Cheney to take the helm. Or Rush Limbaugh. Or David Brooks or George F. Will or Kathleen Parker or Rich Lowry. Let's get somebody who really knows how to get the job done.

Come On, All You Pundits! Time’s a Wasting! Step up to the plate. Take your turns at the American piñta. Show President Obama and the rest of America how to knock the stuffing out of the current recession.

Move On Over, Obama! You’ve had your chance. More than 60 days! What are you waiting for?

The People Who Supported Getting Us Into This Mess now know the easy way out. It’s time to let the real mess-makers have another turn.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outrage Is Easy.....

....It’s What Got Us into this Mess in the First Place.

You May Be Too Young to Remember, but when the anti-Conformist message of the Beatniks became the anti-War, anti-Establishment, free-love revolution of the 1960s, mainstream America freaked out.

Then, When Lyndon Johnson’s Efforts both to sustain the Vietnam War and to rid America of racism and poverty proved to be too much, the result was social mayhem coupled with economic mess. Johnson’s overreaching ambitions led to Richard Nixon’s cynicism, which led to oil shortages and inflation during the Jimmy Carter years.

The Result Was Outrage, festered by Nixon’s creation of a “Silent Majority” and the fear that the nation had gone off-track. The apex came when Iran held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, aiding the election of the next American president.

America Was Outraged
—by the Hippies, by the Commies, by drug use and the sexual revolution, by OPEC and the hostage crisis in Iran. By the apparent failure of the Federal government to take constructive action on any one of these fronts.

In Stepped Ronald Reagan, famously putting forward a silly, defeatist assertion:

“Government Is Not the Solution to Our Problem; Government Is the Problem,” said President Ronald Reagan on the event of his first inauguration. And America believed it. We were outraged by the idea that government might possibly solve anything, beyond the necessities of defending our national borders.

And So Began America’s Twenty-Eight-Year Descent
into the folly of deregulation. The result of which we see today.

The “Folly” Fulfilled in the American Taxpayer,
unemployed and homeless. Woefully broke, his retirement savings decimated. Providing billions of non-existent dollars to A.I.G. for bankruptcy-inducing bonuses.

What Does America Say Now?
That “government is not the solution to the problem”? Or that government just isn’t acting fast-enough to reverse the dismantling trend of almost three entire decades?

Or Merely That We Americans Are....


If “Government Is not the Solution,” then what will get us out of this mess?

The Failure of American Government
over twenty-eight years of the “Conservative Era” was not because government cannot work. It happened because we Americans believed the Conservative foolishness. We elected people who denied the possibilities of government. We permitted our elected officials not even to try. We elected to government, people who bragged —that they don't know how government works!

We Believed the Conservative Ideology—that shipping jobs overseas to Third World countries somehow would not lower our standard of living to that of India, China, and Taiwan. That a nation dependent on foreign oil would not also become dependent on foreign manufacturing and outsourced customer service.

We Believed the Conservative Ideology—that deregulating the greed of Wall Street banks, insurance companies, and investment houses would somehow put money into our pockets. Not just into the million-dollar salaries of CEOs, and the million-dollar bonuses of upper-level management.

We Believed the Conservative Ideology—that deregulating utilities and insurance companies, while putting constraints on the rights of Americans to sue negligent businesses or to declare bankruptcy when necessary, would somehow enhance “individual responsibility” and reduce the “moral hazard” that entitles everyday Americans to the kinds of benefits enjoyed at the top of America’s deregulated economy.

We Believed That If We Just Got Government Out of the Way, private industry would restore America to its former greatness.

Now, What Remains Is Outrage, and the Relentless Heckling of the Right
—such as that of Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh of Excellence In Broadcasting, and Chairman Michael Steele of the Republican National Committee—voicing their messages of outrage, ever-hopeful that Americans may join in their outrage. And that the anti-ideological principles of sound government will fail.

Against the Fervent American Ideal of Progress, “Hope” and “Change,”
we have the Republican determination for a return to the foolish ideological polices of the past twenty-eight years.

What We Have Is the Loud,
Republican Remnants of an ideology too-stupid to believe.

And the Practiced Outrage of the American People, tired of being deceived.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nailing the Doors Shut While Burning Down the Barn

Following Six Solid Years of Republican Government of the United States, the barn is on fire and the horses have fled. How will America respond to the crisis?

Last November, the American People Chose a Course of Action. We voted to go after the horses, round up all that we can, and bring them back to the barn. After that, we will work on rebuilding the barn. And then this time we'll make sure to close those barn doors!

This Plan Isn’t Good Enough for Most of the Republicans in Congress. With the exception of three Senators, every Republican in the U.S. Congress voted against funding the chase. The hypocrisy of American Republicans—those who gave us this financially irresponsible mess—seems almost without bounds.

But Wait: There’s More!

Now That the Stimulus Package* Has Been Signed into Law, funds are set to flow to the American people. Our “chase” is on to recapture the escaping vestiges of the American dream: a job, a home, and some financial security.

America Will Now Round Up the Horses Let Loose by years of Republican negligence in failure at guarding the economic “barn doors.”

But the Republicans
Don't Want to Help:

United Congressional Republicans Boasted of their Obstruction
to the chase—in a stunning display of “Better late than never.” And now some Republican Governors are getting into the act.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has stepped up to the podium, boldly asserting that the Lone Star State will reject a portion of the deficit-spending largesse of the stimulus package.

Persons Such as Texas Governor Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal—and Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford—and some Republican-dominated state legislatures—seem indifferent to the many Americans without jobs.

After All, These Republican Politicians
All Still Have Jobs....

Any Money Lost to the Respective States is not just money to help families of the unemployed. These monies also will be spent within each state’s borders, increasing commercial trade during this challenging time.

Republicans Believe That Government Money somehow disappears into a black hole or into politicians’ pockets, never to be seen again. The reality is that money spent in wages is spent again, for products and services. And spent again and again, keeping the economy going.

But at This Urgent Time, While the Rest of America is out trying to get back all those “horses” escaped from the “barn” of Republican fiscal irresponsibility—now, finally, those Republican leaders decide to rally back to the cause....

....Trying to Block Those Barn Doors.

The Republicans Are Just Standing Back There at the Barn, hands on their hips, shouting out their abandoned ideology, as if to say,

“Hey, You Stupid People!
The barn doors are open! The horses have escaped! Quick come back here now and help us hammer these doors shut!”

(Can You Imagine Republican Politicians
Thinking That We Americans
Are Stupid?)

The Old Saying, “Closing the Barn Door After the Horses Are Gone,” clearly applies.

All Reasonable Americans Hate This Deficit Spending, which mushroomed during the Bush years. But the horses of wasteful deficit spending have been out of the barn for years. The Republicans and CEOs have benefited.

And Now, Real Americans Are Hurting. And they’re willing to go further into debt if necessary, to go recapture those “horses” and keep their families fed.

Maybe Republicans Ought to Find a Few Lessons Here

But They Seem to Be Too Busy—

—Blocking the Barn Doors After the Horses Are Gone....

*American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NEWS FLASH! American President Says Nation Needs to Focus

DATELINE: Washington, DC–If he had been speaking earlier today at a previously disclosed location known as “the White House,” the nation’s newest president might have issued a statement similar to this:

What America Needs Right Now Is Jobs, and the security that a regular paycheck provides. Give Americans jobs, with some sense of job security, and we can all get back to work. We can put this recession thing behind us. As we focus on this together, we move forward together—now.

But Today, I Want to Address Three Issues related to partisan concerns, as the branches of American government work together to stimulate the economy, to create jobs, and to get the American economy back to work.

In This Process of Economic Stimulation:
□ First, We Want to Avoid Creating Inflation via excessive spending.

□ Second, We Want to Give the American People Tax Cuts whenever it is prudent to do so, while avoiding tax cuts that continue to redistribute wealth—whether from the poor to the wealthy or the other way around.

□ Third, We Want to Give States and Local Communities the Revenue Benefits that their Senators and Representatives know best for them, while avoiding the reckless growth of the earmarks and pork-barrel spending that make government look like a reckless waster of our hard-earned pay.
Here Is the Way My Administration Sees these various issues:

The Time of Inflation Is Not Now

Inflation Cannot Be Our Dominant Concern Right Now. Historically, shortages of goods in relation to an overabundant money supply leads directly to inflation. Fortunately, our problems right now are not supply and production, but demand and the flow of capital. Thus we can afford to spend money to create more jobs. More jobs in turn will put more money into the economy, creating a trickle-down effect to keep other businesses going.

What Concerns Us the Most Is the Lack of Job Security, the threat to American paychecks, and the ability to keep our homes. The time to fear inflation is not now.

The Time for Tax Cuts Is Not Now

At a Time When the Price of Everything from Houses and Automobiles to groceries and gasoline is going lower, Americans do not especially need more tax cuts. When millions of Americans are not getting a paycheck, tax cuts won’t help them, anyway.

At a Time When the Nation’s Leading Corporations are laying off employees by the thousands and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the nation’s businesses have no need for tax cuts, either. Right now, tax cuts are not the most-relevant cure for the economy. It’s the people without jobs who need help the most. Not those with jobs who continue to struggle along as they have over the recent past.

Tax Cuts for Near-Bankrupt Corporations and the Unemployed are not what we need right now. For the time being, we should forget about it.

The Time for Earmarks Is Not Now

At the Same Time, Now Is Not the Time for Earmarks,
even though they represent only about 1% of the current spending, and the spending both by Democrats and Republicans is pretty much even. It is Congress’s job to know what their folks back home need. And for the current stimulus bill and budget, it seems safe to say that what Congress has done has been its job, on both sides of the aisle.* But the American people are clear in their concern over the concept of earmarks. And regardless, now is generally not a good time for such projects.

Now Is the Time to Squeeze Out the Earmarks,
no matter how much individual Republicans and Democrats need to carry something to their folks back home. Later, Congress may get back to business as usual. But for the time being, we should forget about it.

America Needs to Focus

Over the Past 49 Days, My Administration
has been getting to know the other branches of the government. We walked into the middle of the economic crisis and we also walked into the end of the Federal budget process. The stimulus plan and the Federal budget needed to move forward, with the assistance of our leaders in Congress, whose job it is to approve these measures. And this is what your government has been doing.

But Now Is the Time
to focus our very best efforts.

Going Forward Over the Near-Term, we need to be as single-minded as we possibly can be—to stem the loss of jobs, to turn the job situation around—so that Americans get back to taking advantage of the abundance of supplies in America—including those new homes and those new automobiles.

Now Is the Time for America to Focus:

Now America Gets Get Down to Work

*Of course, all Americans are welcome to contact their individual Senators and Representatives with comments on earmarks in general, as well as on any particular item that they find objectionable.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Rock-Thrown Letter About Voter I.D. in Texas

Recently We Received a Copy of the Following Letter, wrapped around a brick thrown through the window of our Austin, Texas, offices:

Dear Texas Senator & Fellow Stalwart Republican:

Thank you for focusing your energy on purifying the electoral races of the American voter here in Texas, with the Senate Bill 362.

The idea that somebody might steal a true American’s vote and sneak illegal ballots into the voting box aims a arrow of terror right at the heart of this Real American.

Your proposed voter-ID legislation is about as timely and essential a piece of legislation that faces the people of Texas and the United States of America today.

However, I have a important question about how this new ID will work:

Recently, my wife and I had our house foreclosed on, and since then, we have been living in the back of our Chevy Astrovan. When we apply for the identification to vote in the elections, what address should we use:
A) Our foreclosed former home (No one else lives there yet)?

B) The address where we park to sleep most nights. (Wal-Mart is very nice to let us do this)?

C) The polling place where we used to vote for the past forty-four years, before we lost our jobs?

Senator, you have more important things to deal with right now than writing a letter back to me. But it sure is important to me and the wife that we don't miss out on our right to vote.

With the National government in the hands of the “other party,” Americans no longer have the careful watchdogs of responsible fiscal policy at the helm. But despite our homeless plight and the low price that aluminum cans now fetch at the recycling place, we have every confidence that as soon as the Republicans are back in control, America will see nothing but blue skies—and legal voters—from now on.

Tom DeLay*

* Ha-ha! (Not my real name.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

To Spend or Not to Spend.....Is Not the Right Question

A Simplified Primer on Spending,
Consuming, Saving, and Investing

by Ed Warshawer
Special to Channeling Barack Obama

Until our leaders and pundits learn the difference in the ways money can be spent, the U.S. will continue to wrestle with the simplistic, ideological issue of whether “to spend,” like a Liberal Democrat, or “not to spend,” like a Conservative Republican.

We go round and round, and we get nowhere. We don’t ever settle the debate. And given the minimal level of economic understanding in the country, this is no surprise.

The Three Basic Forms of “Spending”

Spending comes in three basic forms:
1: Consuming
2: Saving
3: Investing
Here’s how each one works:


Consuming is the kind of expenditure that Conservatives talk about when they use the term, “spending.” This kind of expenditure pays for something that is purchased and used, and then is gone forever.

When Republicans talk about hiring people to dig holes and fill them back up, that’s an excellent example of consumption. It may feel good immediately, like a triple-dip ice cream cone. But once the money is spent and the ice cream is gone, only memories and a stomachache remain.

And, of course, the credit-card bill, or the I.O.U., or the National debt.


Saving is the kind of expenditure that Americans in general talk about when they use the term, “investing.” Saving of course means putting money into a bank account or a Treasury bill or a corporate bond: money that earns interest while being set aside for future use. But “saving” also means something else.

Americans usually say that they are “investing” when they buy stock, or index funds, or other mutual funds. Many people don’t seem to realize that when stock shares are bought on the stock market, the money does not directly affect the underlying company. Except when buying part of an initial offering of stock, the money that you “invest” in stock actually goes directly into the pocket of another investor.

Thus, when you buy stock, you are “saving” your money by setting it aside for some future time.

Saving in a Bank or a Bond

The main difference between “saving” in a bank and “investing” in stock is this:

The bank account maintains the nominal value of what you put into it, while providing interest that you hope will outpace the rate of inflation.

In other words, if you put $100 into a Certificate of Deposit, when you get your money back, it will be more than $100. But you don’t know ahead of time whether your money plus interest will still buy what the original $100 would have bought at the beginning.

Saving in the Stock Market

The stock account lets the value of your purchase vary, growing and shrinking at various times, while providing a combination of dividends and a growing price. Such a combination has a better chance of outpacing inflation, but it is less-likely to be the same nominal amount that it was when you bought the stock.

In other words, if you buy $100 worth of stock, when you go to sell it the total price will probably be some different number, either more or less than the $100.

Both of these items represent savings: the putting aside of money for some future use. They just have different risks and advantages.


True “investing” means putting some resource to use to create something more—something greater—than what existed before your investment.

In this real “investing,” when you put some money into starting up a company—and you receive stock in exchange for your investment—you are participating in an opportunity for real growth.

Unlike what we generally mean when we use the term, investing, where you just buy some stock that someone else already owns—which makes nothing new for the underlying company—real investing creates opportunity, and synergistic possibilities for a better future.*

Other forms of real “investing” that are commonly mentioned these days include:
“Investing” in education, in the effort to make better citizens, capable of creating a better future for the country.

“Investing” in roads and bridges, so that people and products can get to markets and to each other.

“Investing” in family planning, so that people do not have so many children that they cannot afford to care for them, and thus create an economic or social burden on society.

“Investing” in the space program, which yielded tremendous new products and opportunities ranging far beyond the specifics of putting people on space stations and the moon.

Some of these forms of “investing” are exactly what Conservatives mean when they complain about “big spending” by Liberals. Conservatives may be correct in thinking that some of these investments may not be the best investments. But they are mistaken in the confusion between “spending” and “investing.”

Capital Investing Versus Government Spending

In looking at the current economic crisis—and what we can and need to do about it—one thing that we ought to avoid is this foolish argument over “spending.” When the Republicans say “spending,” they mean wasteful “consuming.” When the Democrats say “spending,” they mean “investing.” But both Democratic and Republican investment choices are too-often clouded by the failure to distinguish between actual “consuming” and true “investing.”

True investing consists of funding capital projects that are likely to yield synergistic benefits in the future. In this, the Democrats are right. But those programs that do not promise to yield such benefit ought not to be undertaken right now. At least not as part of a “stimulus package.” In this, it is the Republicans who are right.

The Value of Actual Investment

A good example of investing in a capital project is the building of roads and bridges and government buildings. When you invest in such things, you not only borrow the money from the future, you also borrow the expense from the future. As George Bailey pointed out in It’s a Wonderful Life, when you buy a structure on credit, you get the benefit of it now, while you’re paying for it, rather than waiting until you can pay for it—and may no longer need it—in the future.

The roads we build today, just like the wonderful, old WPA projects still standing all over the country eighty years after the Great Depression, will save our grandchildren the expense of building them in the future.

When you actually invest—rather than when you consume—you actually do invest in a better and brighter American future.

© 2008 Ed Warshawer
Used by Permission

*In fact, this idea of improving the future is so important that it actually is a required part of the charter of public corporations. Really. This corporation thing is not just about taking money out of the hands of the public. Incorporation is about “contributing to the common good.”