It was Worth Doing – It’s Made a Difference

I am puzzled as to how an editorial writer (see blog titled – Editorializing on the Failed Stimulus) can make a determiniation as to whether or not a public policy is a success or a failure when only a quarter of the stimulus money is out the door so far in the first nine months.  Here’s a recent article from the New York Times which says that “more dispassionate analysts have reached a concensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working”.

I’m not sure what qualifications this editorial writer has, but I would venture to guess that he’s not an economist. He has probably just picked up on the reporting quirks of the plan and decided to label it a failure. I prefer to leave the decision making to the field experts as opposed to taking the opinion of an editorial writer. We were all well aware of the fact that the stimulus plan was not front loaded and that the majority of the money was to be doled out in 2010.

Mark Zandi who is quoted in the article is by no means a liberal economist as I have heard him speak many times on CNBC’s Kudlow report. He says “the stimulus is doing what it was supposed to do – it is contributing to ending the recession” and he said “that in his view GDP would still be negative and unemployment would be over 11 percent had the stimulus not been implemented”. GDP for this quarter is 3.5% and unemployment is 10%, while by no means great numbers it’s better than the alternative. Zandi also says “there are a little over 1.1 million more jobs out there in October than there would have been without the stimulus”.

Its just my humble opinion, but I think as the article states, there were many many more jobs saved then were created and much of the stimulus money that went to the states was used to finance ongoing projects. I know there have been numerous articles in the Columbus Dispatch regarding the State of Ohio’s budget shortfall and inability to get adequate funding to keep things going and I would not be surprised if things are just as bad in other states. 

So to be fair, shouldn’t we wait until after 2010 before judging whether or not the stimulus was a success or a failure ?

The Crab Nebula, From Three Perspectives

If you like science and space, you can do worse than regularly visit the NASA website, just to see the latest information and images posted there.  Recently they put up a very interesting depiction of the Crab Nebula, based on combining the Chandra X-ray image (shown in blue), the Hubble Space Telescope optical image (shown in yellow and red) and the Spitzer Space Telescope infrared image (shown in purple).  The result is the striking image shown above.

The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a supernova that was first observed in 1054 A.D. and was recorded and marveled at by humans across the world.  When the light from the explosion first reached Earth (of course, the explosion itself had happened long before) it was so bright it could be seen in broad daylight.  In the center of the nebula is now a neutron star, and if you look carefully at the image you see a fascinating, roiling cauldron of gases and gravitational phenomena surrounding the star.  It is no wonder that the Crab Nebula is one of the most studied celestrial items.