SAVING THE ECONOMY – LOOK TO SPACE

On June 27, 2011, Fox News asked if a government spending program with a commitment of money and resources on the scale of NASA’s Apollo moon program, might be one way to rescue the U.S. economy?

Americans hearken back to Apollo as a period of national pride and resolve, and a willingness to spend freely in pursuit of a lofty goal.

Apollo was the origin of many technologies that found their way into the common household. Perhaps chief among them was the integrated circuit. Its development for the space program, led indirectly 20 years later to the proliferation of the home computer, and in part to the tech revolution.

Economist Martin Bailey, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to former President Bill Clinton, now at the liberal Brookings Institution, sees this as a potential genesis of the next technological revolution and economic boom.

Today, government is now expanding broadband coverage, as it did with electrical power in rural America 75 years ago or the interstate highway system decades later. Those huge expenditures, undertaken at the behest of presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, respectively, put many Americans to work on the projects themselves and then allowed new economic opportunities once completed. But rapid change of technology means many jobs lost in the recession will never come back.

“How are we going to take the 40-year-old unemployed person who’s been out of work for 12 or 18 months, give them skills that they need for a job that does exist?” asks Economist Brad Jenson of Georgetown University.

But some critics, including economist Veronique de Rugy of the conservative Mercatus Center at George Mason University, say not all long-term government spending projects have produced such inspiring results as Apollo.

“I think we have to not lose sight of the fact that the government claims, that it’s investing in our economy, and in our future, all the time. We’re already spending gigantic amount of money on roads. We are spending gigantic amount of money on education, and it doesn’t seem to be paying off at all.”

Some experts see the benefit of a middle road – the public /private partnership.

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