I write this series with some trepidation. It flows from an earlier post called Turning The Page, that generated a lot of page views and comments.First a small confession. That post was written on a Sunday afternoon. That morning at Thad’s, my jazz preacher Jimmy Bartz had continued working through the Book of Luke with us in this amazing dialogue he has with his musical congregation. We had arrived at Luke 11:33-36. The lines from the modern translation that just slayed me were
No one lights a lamp then hides it in a drawer…Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with life. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning.
So I came home from church, charged with the teaching and dialogue we had shared and tried to apply it to how I was feeling about Barack Obama’s movement. And I wrote about trying to turn this wide-eyed wonder and belief to the great task of rebuilding America.
But as I said at the outset, bringing the lamp out of the drawer also brings out some trepidation. If I want to think positively about the future of a country that has it’s share of “greed and distrust”, it is a giant leap of faith that anyone will “get my back”. That when I turn around on Nov. 5th that a majority of our citizens will have followed and decided to live in wide-eyed wonder rather than squinty-eyed distrust. So I don’t want these musings about what Obama could do in the first 100 days to seem presumptuous. The dark side of the American character that Hofstadter called The Paranoid style in American Politics, could possibly help McCain and Palin win, but it seems highly doubtful. I continue to believe Palin’s Brownshirts are a loud but small minority, but the instinct to be optimistic and filled with light is a constant battle as you can see by the fact that I couldn’t stand on the sidelines as Palin upped the hate rhetoric this week. However, I’m going to keep trying to be forward looking and wide-eyed.
So with all that having been said, here are some thoughts on the first 100 days. They obviously come from a New Federalist point of view.
Assumptions on Jan.20,2009
- Unemployment will be close to 8%.
- The Christmas Retail season will have been the worst in 9 years.
- Some more banks will have failed
- States and Municipalities still having credit market problems
- Credit card defaults and bankruptcies will have climbed significantly
- Many retail bankruptcies or closures
So the country will be in pretty bad shape and will need some major actions to restore confidence and begin to put people back to work.
100 Day Priorities
- Education and Infrastructure Block Grants-If we are to assume that innovation happens at the edges, then the first priority for both education and Green tech should be to move the money out to the states on a per capita basis. On Education the emphasis must be on providing enough money to raise teachers salaries in the K-12 grades. I would also dump the No Child Left Behind national plan and encourage states to experiment. The infrastructure program needs to be geared to providing jobs at the local level. Whether it’s laying fiber optic cable, putting solar collectors on every government building in California, rebuilding bridges and highways, putting in high speed rail or low emmision local public transportation–these are the keys to getting the economy started again towards and investment production based system.
- College Affordability-If Obama wins, it will in large part be due to the young people who staffed the offices and pounded the pavement. We need to get back to a system like we had in California in the 60’s and 70’s where any citizen of the state could get a first class college education at a state school for very little money. Saddling students with massive debts for college loans so they start out in life behind the eight ball is insane. Obama has a good plan that should go on the 100 Day list. He may have to do more, but its a good start.
- TARP Modifications-As I have been saying for a while, I think the Treasury should evolve the rescue package to be more on the Swedish–buy preferred equity–plan. Along side this, a new Treasury secretary and a new SEC chairman need to make clear to Wall Street, there is a new sheriff in town.
- Freedom Energy Fund-I would phase in over 24 months a $20 per barrel tariff on imported oil. We import about 10 million barrels of oil a day, so this could be generating about $200 million per day to help fund the conversion to Alternative energy sources. The tariff would have two effects. It would set a price floor for oil, so alternative technology would be competitive and it would provide the funding mechanism so we could have a DARPA like effort to fund the ET efforts that will be the source of America’s new competitiveness.
So this is obviously just a start. Some of the ideas arecopped from the generosity of the community. let’s hear what you think.