Make the stimulus big, smart and fair

Don't build more car-choked highways and bridges to nowhere. Investing in jobs, transit and people will build a prosperous, inclusive America.

Topics: Barack Obama

Make the stimulus big, smart and fair

The broad outlines of Obama’s recovery package are becoming clear: heavy on the roads and bridges, with a healthy side of tax cuts. But I hope it doesn’t end there. The package should not only boost the economy in the short run, but also set up communities across the country to compete and thrive in the long run. There’s only one way to do that: invest equitably.

So, what kind of recovery package would make sense?

Three words: big, smart and fair. 

The current economic crisis has hit low-income people and communities of color first and worst. We have to rethink how and where we make these investments. By just pushing $700 billion (or more) down the same pipeline we always have, we will end up with many new car-choked suburban highways and plenty of pet projects for the politically connected, but we would miss a truly historic opportunity to improve our economy, our environment and our communities. We need to put a down payment on a prosperous and inclusive America.

We have to invest where people live and where they need the most help. Two-thirds of Americans — and the vast majority of the nation’s poor — live in urban regions. By fixing and expanding existing infrastructure there, we can lay the foundation for long-term growth and get struggling residents back to work. We also must invest in the rural areas that have never benefited from the infrastructure many Americans take for granted.

By being smart about the places, people and projects we invest in, this recovery package could be the greatest poverty-fighting tool we’ve seen in generations.

The No. 1 question we should ask when we look to make these investments is, “Does this support the national good?” Will the project expand the economy, create jobs and strengthen our communities?

To answer that question, we have to think about the kind of America we want. With the help of this stimulus, we could move toward a nation that is more competitive and vibrant and richer with opportunity for all people.

We shouldn’t limit ourselves to the outmoded idea that infrastructure means only roads, bridges and other traditional public works projects. We can expand and improve public-transit systems to connect workers to jobs, cut down on greenhouse gases and create thousands of good-paying construction jobs. We can rehab our schools to make them greener, healthier and more energy-efficient environments for our children.  We can install broadband lines in low-income communities and help connect entrepreneurs and small businesses to the digital revolution.



We can also use the recovery package to encourage new grocery stores to come back to the low-income communities of color they abandoned decades ago. New fresh-food stores could dramatically increase healthy eating, reduce the out-of-control rates of obesity and diabetes in these communities and provide a vibrant, long-term source of retail jobs for local residents.

The stimulus shouldn’t be only about building structures, either. It should be about building up people and communities — our human capital. By ensuring that 1 or 2 percent of the cost of every project is set aside for job training, we can create a pipeline to get low-income young men and woman and youth of color trained and ready to be part of the massive workforce we will need to get all these projects built. Community colleges are a perfect venue to train people for a new generation of blue-, white- and green-collar jobs.

There is a lot of pressure right now to pump this recovery funding into “shovel-ready” projects that are ready to go on Inauguration Day. We should be cautious about that approach. Too many of the “shovel-ready” projects were conceived and planned under the old way of thinking. If we just move ahead with the ready-to-go lists floating around Washington, we will end up with the same misguided infrastructure projects we’ve always had.

Instead, let’s take a moment to figure out which projects make the most short- and long-term sense. Let’s bring low-income and urban residents to the table and listen to their ideas for how to improve their communities for today and tomorrow.

We have one shot to get this right. We need to make sure we’re lifting up Americans as we lift up the American economy.

 

Angela Glover Blackwell is the founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>