Today I am shedding "lyte" on economics. In case you haven't noticed, the economy isn't improving as fast as everyone would like. Unemployment continues to climb and Americans are not spending money they don't have anymore.
One of the fears about the stimulus package was that it was too small. Economist Paul Krugman warned that a feeble stimulus would be worse than no stimulus since passing a second bill would be a real uphill climb. He is one of many that are calling for a second stimulus.
Vice President Joe Biden didn't help matters when he said that the administration had "misread" the economy. Obama aides were quick to point out that is wasn't a misread, but more of a surprise that the economy and more importantly, unemployment was so bad. I must admit, I am tired of hearing that particular excuse. We were surprised by 9/11, we were surprised by the dearth of WMD in Iraq, and now we are surprised that businesses are laying off people in record numbers. Doesn't anyone entertain worst case scenarios in Washington?
But a bulk of the stimulus spending is in construction. And those projects take time. Time to decide what project to do. Time to submit and select a bid. The problem is that Americans have no patience. We like instant gratification. We wanted this economic disaster over yesterday. And it won't be over for years.
So what to do? Is a second stimulus needed? I am not economic expert. But I know personally of people who are getting jobs thanks to the stimulus. I have heard from people who have been able to refinance their mortgages and stay in their homes. So the programs are starting to work. But it is hard to see the unemployment numbers climb. Those numbers represent fellow citizens and their families. My family was once one of those numbers. I know how terrifying it is and how desperate you feel.
But I don't think now is the time for a second stimulus. Let's get health care passed and Sotomayor confirmed. It has only been six months. Six scary, long and frustrating months, but this meltdown didn't happen overnight and the recovery is going to take longer. Remember, creation is a lengthier process than destruction. I am thinking of what I tell my kids when they want something and they want it now, "Practice your patience." I have a hunch we are going to get a lot of practice.