“When I hear politicians say that ‘we’re borrowing this money from our kids’ or whatever, this can seem abstract. It turns out that it’s not a metaphor. If we enact the stimulus legislation, there will people from Beijing to Dubuque who will hold pieces of paper saying, roughly, that on a specified date they can show up at the door of the United States government and demand trillions of dollars.
“…We are making decisions in a sea of ignorance, and shouldn’t kid ourselves about this.
“The strongest argument for the stimulus (and the one that I think, in their heart-of-hearts, most supporters actually hold) is what could be called the Costanza-Hoover Principle: do the opposite of whatever Herbert Hoover did. In a world of limited knowledge, this isn’t as crazy as it might seem, at least as a starting point. It sure seems like Hoover screwed up; and hopefully we can avoid his mistakes. This pretty much boils down to: avoid a tariff war; don’t try to balance the budget right now; don’t restrict the money supply (that gold standard thing is right out); and, most importantly, prevent a collapse of the banking system.”
It's times like these that make me glad I'm not a politician who has to make decisions. $1.1 trillion is an unfathomable amount of “stimulus, ”and just as much, if not more, debt. Personally, I'd be willing to try to ride out a severe recession with the skills I've gathered, but I've got a weird relationship with my own mortality and a yen for post-apocalyptic scenarios. But I wouldn't want to choose that for anyone else.
So it appears that my generation is going to have to take one for the team. As Manzi puts it:
“This makes the incredible support of this age cohort for Obama seem pretty ironic, at least on this issue. You know all those rallies you went to, and how excited you were on election night? It turns out that the most important result of that, so far at least, is that you get work much, much harder over the next 40 years so that the overweight guy in the khaki pants down the hall from you at work who does nothing of much observable value doesn’t have to move to a smaller house or trade in his car.”
Maybe we like being asked to make a sacrifice? Ever think of that? But it's not exactly noble, since I'm sure we'll do everything in our power to pass whatever debt we can on to our kids.
Besides, if we don't take the stimulus money drugs and things go really badly, we'll have to endure the pain longer than our parents will.
Anyhow, I feel really weird talking about spending more money than I can imagine, and what's done is probably done.
PS: I cannot stand the word “stimulus” for much longer.