One way to change the conversation

July 21, 2011

A new Century editorial argues that unemployment, not the budget deficit,
is the most urgent economic problem facing the U.S. We need to deal with the
deficit at some point, but first we need to get people back to work by
stimulating the economy.

The editorial does not,
however, deal with the political question of how to change the conversation and priorities in Washington. On
this front, Paul
Krugman has an interesting idea

Suppose that Obama
announces that we face a clear and present danger from Ruritania, and that to
meet that threat we need immediate investment in roads and rail (to move
troops, of course). The economy surges on the emergency spending - and newly
employed men and women at last get to move out of their relatives' basements.
Home construction surges.

Then Obama apologizes,
says that his advisers have learned that there is no such country as Ruritania,
and cancels the program. But we still have the new roads and rail links; plus,
the surge in housing demand is now self-sustaining, and the economy remains

Of course, we could do all
this without the Ruritanian threat; but we won't.