At work today I took part in an interview by the Public Policy Insitute from Texas A&M. It was kind of interesting. They came to check out our mental health docket, and then they're going to be headed to Dallas and Tarrant Counties to examine their mental health courts and to interview their personnel. I guess the end goal is to come up some kind of report that other counties can use when setting up mental health dockets and courts of their own.
Anyway, there's no easier way to get people talking than to ask them to describe something about themself, and such was the case today when they started asking me about the mental health docket. I guess I'm a little more enthusisastic and proud of what we're doing than I realized. The balance between protecting the community (and I don't just mean physical safety, but protecting property rights and the right for people to go about their lives without being hasseled as well) versus making sure that mentally ill people are treated with the special care and attention that they deserve can be a bit of a tricky, nuanced affair, but I think we have good people working on the issue, and I think that it's a great time to be a prosecutor in dealing with these issues (I don't mean to overstate things, but in some ways we're kind of entering a bit of a new age in terms of taking mental health issues seriously within the criminal justice system).
Anyway, it was sort of an interesting interview.
What else? Well, according to a new Fox news poll, 51 percent of Americans support the economic stimulus package that was just passed by Congress, with 40 percent of Americans opposing it. I just want to sort of mark these poll numbers on this day in history, because if things get worse before they get better (or heck, even if they just get better more slowly than people would like) then Republicans are going to try to rewrite history and claim that Obama was some wild-eyed liberal who went off the reservation and forced an unpopular piece of legislation down the throats of Americans against their will. Let the record reflect that more than half of the people in our country wanted this legislation passed and thought it was a good idea- and it ain't easy to get more than half of the people in this country to agree on anything. At least 58 percent, according to the Fox poll, thought that some form of legislation was necessary (although Fox claims that 23 percent opposed the plan that passed congress).
Plus, I just don't understand the simple implementation of additional tax cuts as a reasonable alternative. Economists have largely agreed that tax cuts given during a recession mostly just end up being saved and hidden away by the individuals or businesses which receive them rather than actually ending up being spent in ways that might reinvigorate the economy (and when I've mentioned this to some people, they've kind of discounted this idea, saying- "Well, only the Keynesian economists say that," but for one thing, from the little bit that I understand, I tend to think these Keynesian guys (who support the occasional action of government to correct for privates sector mistakes) understand a thing or two, but even more importantly, I think that there are just a whole bunch of different economists who think that America is currently in an extremely unusual position, and that we need to take some extraordinary measures (which this huge stimulus bill surely is). Here's a list of a bunch of economists and finance experts who support Obama. Check them out. You're going to find some names of people in there who have served under Republican administrations (among them, Paul Volcker, a Democrat who Reagan reappointed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1983, David Ruder was Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Reagan, and William Donaldson, who served as S.E.C. chairman under George W. Bush). Also, there are a number of Nobel laureates who support Obama, and Warren Buffet is somewhere in there, throwing support behind our president.
All of this support from the experts doesnt' guarantee that the stimulus bill is going to work, of course, but it at least demonstrates that some of the best and brightest minds in the country think that it's a good idea and worth a shot. And the only alternative being offered is more tax cuts. Seems like we already tried that for 8 years. Plus, the Republicans keep complaining about government spending, but tax cuts are really just a disguised version of the same thing. Cutting taxes costs the government money and takes funds out of the government coffers. That money is going to be needed and need to be paid back at some point. Is it really better to give tax cuts now when you know that future generations are going to have to make up the difference? (a thought which becomes even more depressing when you consider the possibility that tax cuts probably won't stimulate the economy, and future generations may have to try to pay back that money with a damaged economy)
Still with me? I can hear the snoring out there, but my point is just that Obama is doing the best that he can, and the American people seem to still support him so far. I continue to really like our new president and wish him the best of luck.