Spaghetti Economics

03/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Matt Miller Author, columnist, radio host, television commentator and consultant

The Big Point being lost in all the back and forth over the stimulus plan's flaws is this: there is no such thing as a perfect stimulus.

First, we don't really know what will work best, and second, no giant bill like this gets through Congress without massive amounts of unattractive stuff. But with consumer demand collapsing and business retrenching, government is the only entity that can lift demand in ways that avert a self-reinforcing downward spiral.

We need to throw lots of spaghetti against the wall, and fast -- and continue to throw lots of spaghetti against the wall for at least a few years. This is not a case against trying to make the spaghetti tossing as smart as we can -- it's just an acknowledgment that we're unlikely to know what's really best and the most important thing is the volume and speed of the spaghetti we start tossing. And yes, once we get things stabilized, we'll have to come back and figure out a pasta withdrawal diet (i.e. long term budget reform, slowing the growth of health care costs, raising taxes, etc). But that will be a comparatively good problem to have once we're past this mess.