Set phasors to Stimulus!

Liberal bloggers seem to be lining up in favor of the $1 trillion-plus stimulus bill to rescue Starship Free Enterpise by boldly going where no economy has gone before.

One guy at Huffpost, Jason Rosenbaum, in a column whose gist is chastising progressives for not supporting the stimulus package enough, believes the economy will never recover if the bill doesn't pass. Then he reminds that there goes health care and all our other cute pet causes with the bath

The President, meanwhile, assures us if the bill does not pass there will be catastrophe, no doubt about it. Both sides of the debate (Cut Taxes! Deficit Spend! Cut Taxes! Deficit Spend!) seem to concur that disaster is immiment if nothing is done.

Maybe not.

If there is an argument besides the one about how rickety, rotten and utterly un-resilient our economy is then I haven't heard enough of it. Maybe it does have farther to fall, and maybe that's what has to happen if we are to finally convert to the GreenFreep solartopian economy we envision for our species and our world. Maybe some form of collapse is inevitable in order to "grow down" resource consumption to adequate levels of stewardship.

Maybe car companies do have to die for their husks to be refitted for new tasks. Why is Obama even considering a bailout of obsolete internal-combustion technology?

Would he have bailed out steam locomotives in Lincoln's day?

Hey, I'm no capitalist cheerleader, but I seem to have more faith in the system than the Captain Kirks of industry and their alien bitches in congress do. Something always rises up to take the place of something else that fails. Once in a while, the big trees in the forest have to burn or the little stuff at the bottom never sees the light of day.

But besides wondering about the missing viewpoints on how bad it is and how bad it can get, I also wonder what happened to the debate over the efficiency of stimulus - tax cutting stimulus, printing-fake-money-stimulus or some zany concoction of both.

And I don't mean the diversionary argument over whether it's cost-effective in the long-run. I mean whether it works at all.

Remember - for the past six months we've had a stimulus program in effect, a good one, and it didn't

Gasoline prices dropped by over over $2 per gallon. Diesel, too.

For lower-class stiffs who drive to work or for work, that meant $100, $200 - even more, easily, per month. Money that instantly eased the plight of ordinary Americans - on its way right back into the economy. And since the rich can afford gas at any price, this has been stimulus that disproportionately helps us more than them, for a change.

And if this stimulus dollar value across our vast land over half a year isn't in the hundreds of billions yet, then surely it's in the high tens of billions. Real grease, in real time.

Now you may say the hike in gas prices is part of what caused the curent recession and I'm inclined to agree. Pump shock at the least exacerbated the foreclosure crisis which became the banking crisis which morphed into to the national debt crisis which is leading to probably some horrific planetary explosion, the light of which in millions of years will hopefully reach a sentient species like ours was in time to warn them:

Regulate your sub-prime mortgages! Before it's too late!

Anyway, here we are and so far stimulus hasn't done squat to stop the slide - though imagine how much worse Christmas could have been if gas was still $4.15 a gallon.

We've also been treated to a war economy these past several years, lucky us. That's supposed to stimulate the economy in a delightfully Keynesian way, too.

To my eyes, any deficit spending which our flat-or-shrinking tax base could have put up for universal healthcare, public education renewal, job-retraining and a national works program has already been squandered on the $1 trillion-plus corporate bailouts and $1 trillion-plus Iraq war - and here comes the $1 trillion-plus stimulus?!? Are there really progressives out there who think there's yet another $1 trillion lying around to borrow to start universal healthcare? It's just not logical.

And so the question I wonder most looms like menacing motherships above the midwest plains:

What happens when annual U.S. debt service moves from about 20 cents of every tax dollar now to 30 or 40 cents or more? Inflation? Insolvency? Insurrection? Won't our problems only multiply?

That's the trouble with trillions.