Smart Spending of the $6 Trillion of Magically Materialized Money

If you’re going to spend money you don’t have, you’d better spend it to create things with genuine value. This is the choice facing Americans today. Estimates of how much the federal deficit will grow in response to the pandemic shutdown range as high as $6 trillion. So how should we spend such a stupendous sum of money?

The last time a huge sum of stimulus money was pumped into the U.S. economy, back in 2009, skeptics were told the money was going to fund “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. President Trump repeatedly has criticized the 2009 stimulus because it wasn’t, in fact, used for infrastructure.

A “Fact Check” written in 2017 by NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben made a feeble attempt to debunk Trump’s claim, saying Trump is “mostly wrong” about this. Funny though, the facts cited in Kurtzleben’s own article demonstrate that Trump was “mostly right.” Of the $800 billion in 2009 stimulus spending, only $81 billion, barely 10 percent, was used for infrastructure.

One may argue that any money going into the economy, for anything, has at least a short-term value, and is necessary in a crisis. That’s obviously true, and this time around, a lot of stimulus money is going to go to be used to provide short term but very necessary relief to households and businesses that would otherwise go under. But what about long-term value?

Usually lost in the debate over just how long the United States can continue to materialize dollars out of thin air is that the answer is affected by what is done with all that money. Specifically, how much of the money is invested in projects that will pay long-term dividends?

How to Misspend $6 Trillion

If you ask the Democratic Socialist schemers, abetted by the NeverTrump idiots, traitors and mercenaries (e.g. the Lincoln Project), 2020 is a chance to fundamentally transform America. The Democratic Party’s socialist agenda is well known, even if the consequences of that agenda are deliberately obscured. And their agenda grabs hold of and runs with every crisis, including the current really big one.

Imagine a national “contact tracing” army, backed by ubiquitous drones and an AI-enabled data gathering panopticon. Expect to be micromanaged not only in matters of health—whether or not you’ve gotten your vaccines and been chipped – but also just exactly how well you’re minimizing your carbon footprint. Private property and free speech slowly will become a memory. The middle class will go extinct. American citizenship will be meaningless.

And all that money? It will pay for a bigger public sector nomenklatura than ever, along with a comprehensive and very costly assortment of handouts to a population convinced that hard work is for suckers. Some money will be to subsidize “clean” energy, so that renewables combined with severe rationing will enable the dismantling of the fossil fuel industry. Eventually, American insolvency will trigger an economic depression from which there will be no recovery.

This path is more than fiscal malpractice. It is national suicide. There is an alternative.

Obstacles to Spending $6 Trillion Wisely

The biggest hindrance to wise spending is understanding that tangible projects have to be funded, not just expansion of government and expansion of welfare type programs. The other major hindrance to wise spending is the propensity over the past few decades to spend most of the money meant for infrastructure on planning, mitigation, side projects to appease special interests, litigation, and consultants, while absorbing the cost of endless delays.

When examining successful infrastructure projects in America’s past, it’s too easy to attack them from a libertarian perspective, while ignoring their biggest virtue: They got done. They got done with most of the money actually being used for labor and materials. Sure, the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s was a government-funded endeavor. But the Grand Coulee Dam and Hoover Dam, along with countless other water reclamation projects, are the reason the American west was turned into a breadbasket for the world, and the reason Americans produced enough electricity to smelt aluminum and build the bombers that won World War II. Results matter more than ideology.

Similarly, in the 1950s, the interstate highway system was a government-funded endeavor. But those roads enabled modern cities and transportation to evolve, catalyzing America’s economic growth at the time, and like those dams, yielding benefits to this day. Even in the 1960s and into the 1970s, big infrastructure got funded and big infrastructure got built. In California, it took only six years for the gigantic San Luis Reservoir, with a capacity of 2 million acre feet, to go from concept to being fully operational.

Today, using California as a typical modern example, the proposed Sites Reservoir, of nearly identical design to San Luis, is expected to take 30 years to complete. That’s if they build it at all. We have paralyzed our nation, and the reasons for it aren’t hard to figure out. Everyone has their finger in the pie. Everyone has to get paid off. Special interests have taken over the process of building anything in America, and they will destroy us.

A wonderful, scathing essay recently published on American Greatness by the pseudonymous L0m3z titled “Bound and Gagged by the Bugmen,” goes a step further. The author identifies “Bug” as the language and jargon adopted by bureaucrats and “experts,” language that offers little in the way of clear meaning and much in the way of obfuscation and obstruction. Towards the end of the essay, the author writes:

None of this can be done—not the flying cars, or the space travel; there will be no fourth Industrial Revolution—until and unless there is a common language with the capacity to inspire it… Bug language will not allow it. It cannot support its vision. It can only pervert, and inevitably thwart all that dare to be heroic. Bug language cannot be allowed to persist. And we must stomp it out with the heel of our boot.

The New American Renaissance

The American Left, in its uncritical embrace of the pandemic emergency regardless of the extremes to which it may take us, and in its advocacy for declaring a “climate emergency,” are on to something even if their priorities are terrifying. They want to stomp out opposition to their agenda.

For the American Right to overcome the Left and inspire voters requires more than just exposing the corruption and anti-American essence of the Left. It requires stomping out the parasitic bug culture and bug language that sucks the life out of any endeavor that so much as scratches the earth, whether using public or private funds. And to do those things, a bold agenda must be set that proposes spending money on things we can see; things that will last. Here are examples:

  • Invest more in strategic military technology and decouple all essential supply chains from China.
  • Approve expansion of mining throughout the United States, whether it’s lithium in California’s Mojave Desert or uranium on the Colorado Plateau.
  • Accelerate spending on research and development of fusion energy.
  • Accelerate approval of nuclear power plants throughout the United States, utilizing the latest and safest large scale and smaller modular designs.
  • Fund NASA and private contractors to establish a permanent base on the water rich South Pole of the Moon before China claims it, and subsidize robotic prospecting and mining of the asteroid belt.
  • Reform federal laws such as NEPA and override state laws that prevent new housing and manufacturing on open land.
  • Federally fund new highways and connector roads to enable suburban expansion and upgrade and widen existing highways.
  • Accelerate FAA establishment of air lanes for passenger and freight drones.

America today needs the courage that was displayed in the 1930s as we prepared to fight fascism, and in the postwar era as we contained and then defeated Soviet Communism. America is now in a new existential conflict, this time with the fascist, racist, expansionist regime that controls the Chinese mainland.

These programs, and others like them, must be done with a sense of urgency. Showering money on these types of tangible programs, assuming the bug people don’t siphon off all the money, will guarantee American economic and technological preeminence for another century.

Transmuting America’s so-called fiat money into modern, robust infrastructure, breakthrough technology, space industrialization, and military supremacy is feasible alchemy. Let’s get started.

About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: PM Images/Getty Images

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