Monday, February 2, 2009

Tripple Word Score

This week's newspaper article:

Debate over the national stimulus plan is coming to a head. The proposal - yet to be passed by both bodies of Congress and signed into law by the President – stands as a combination of tax cuts and funding for projects designed to create jobs.

Tax cuts are a foregone conclusion; we can all use a few extra dollars in our pockets.

But some, singing the tired old song that “the best government is the least government,” have suggested that any attempt to stimulate the economy through job creation at the federal level is destined to fail. They say that any money spent on job creation by the federal government is just throwing money away. Thus, the remedy for an ailing national economy involves permanent tax cuts. Period.

In other words, “more of the same, only more of it.” Those people must be terrible Scrabble players.

In the classic board game, the way to score big is by targeting the bonus squares and creating as many words as possible in as many directions as possible in one move.

Scrabble is a two dimensional game. Looking for opportunities to make a play that is both sideways and up-and-down is a winning strategy. Thinking one-dimensionally, meaning every word stands alone, puts a cap on the effectiveness, and almost always results in the bottom end of the score.

Let’s look at a couple of the proposals at play.

The plan calls for weatherizing millions of homes, putting Americans to work in every part of the nation. These jobs, unlike many over the past few years, cannot be outsourced to China.

The bonus? Buildings suck up almost half the energy we use in this country. Inefficient buildings are the worst culprits. Once weatherized, homeowners save money each month on their energy bills (adding up to a tidy sum by the end of the year), and the country is less dependent on dirty and foreign sources of energy.

The proposed stimulus package calls for the construction of the first phase of a national energy “smart grid.” Just like the railroads of the nineteenth century, the interstate highways of the mid-twentieth century, and the Internet of late, this new infrastructure will foster millions of well-paying jobs for decades to come.

The added dimension? Once the smart grid is in place, homegrown renewable energy can be transported from renewable hotspots –wind in the Midwest, solar in the Southeast – all across the country resulting in permanent American jobs, energy security, a clean environment, and lower energy costs for all Americans.

When government proposals are one-dimensional, they may very well be destined for failure. But all of the major proposals by the Administration have multiple dividends, and once accomplished, serve a valuable purpose well into the future.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect President Obama is a very good Scrabble player.

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