What Should the Stimulus Look Like?

As Washington's power women (from Olympia Snowe to Claire McCaskill to Maxine Waters) work to sort out the Obama Administration's stimulus package, WVFC continues its Mistresses of the Universe conversation (click here for parts one and two)with a dialogue about women and our financial future.

Barbara Olsen, School of Business, SUNY College Old Westbury: It seems that we are
proceeding with a Keynesian reinvestment plan. I know we need help to
get more money into the system, to guarantee essential health,
housing and education needs (yes, I'm a liberal), to prevent and help
the homeless, to get people back to work. A big part of the problem is
resurrecting the banks and getting Wall St. to act responsibly. My
instincts tell me there is something wrong with having the same people
fix the problem who created it. But, most important: the US
mentality needs a major overhaul, because for decades we've weaned an
entire generation on lower taxes. I honestly believe that the stimulus
won't work without raising taxes. As it is being written, we are
borrowing more money to make money flow.

As a nation, we've become
self-preoccupied. We no longer think about the best interests of our
country's future or even of democratically sharing the economic burden
of maintaining a government that protects and nurtures its people. I
tell my students that it is a democratic, nationalistic duty to pay
taxes.

In "the best of
all possible worlds" taxes work for us to live better - happier,
healthier, safer lives - and will stimulate the economy if they are are
sent back to local governments to defray costs of maintaining our
social services and infrastructure or used properly to fund
government agencies that guarantee competitiveness and safety in the
marketplace.

I'm showing a film in my Marketing class today, a 2004 Frontline documentary "Modern Meat, and asking students to read with it "Inspecting Our Food: How Many Cooks?" from today's piece from from the January 11, 2009 issue of The New York Times. The latter addresses the current chaos in the
FDA and USDA, from mismanagement and lack of funding to staff these
agencies properly:

“The fragmented system was not developed under any rational plan but
was patched together over many years to address specific health threats
from particular food products,” the report said. Efforts to address
food safety, it says, are “hampered by inconsistent and inflexible
oversight and enforcement authorities, inefficient resource use and
ineffective coordination.”

It went nowhere. In the decade
since, the problems have only worsened. As food imports have soared,
the number of inspectors has declined as budgets have been cut. There
has been salmonella in peanut butter, botulism in canned foods and melamine in infant formula.

The counter argument, of course, is what is done with the tax money that spent in
wasteful, inefficient programs only serving special interests.

To continue reading, please go to Women's Voices For Change.

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