...A real, properly put together stimulus bill would have got them back to work. For example, a program to make every building in America be at least energy neutral and preferably creating energy, would have kept them usefully employed.
The bottom line in America today is that while everyone who isn’t paid not to know, knows how to fix what’s wrong with America (for example, instead of the mess called Health Care Reform, pass single payer), nothing that really fixes anything fundamental will be allowed to occur.
America is controlled by what economists call rent-seeking behaviour. Virtually everyone important has a revenue stream, and they don’t want anyone to take that revenue stream away. So pharma and insurance companies, who would have been damaged badly by single payer (they would have lost hundreds of billions) made sure that a plan to provide everyone with better health care for a third less than current costs was never even considered.
The most important game in America today is the contest for control of government, so that government can directly or indirectly give you money. Health care “reform” in which the government decided to force Americans to buy private health insurance or be fined is merely the latest (and most blatant) example. Virtually every industry, from finance to telecom to agriculture is involved in this game. It is in all their interests to make sure the game continues, but they do fight amongst each other for the spoils.
This game will continue until the US can no longer afford it. Indeed, even now, some industries are taking it on the chin, loosing out to their better connected cousins. For example, the current downturn has seen the prison-industrial complex losing ground. They get most of their money from State governments, and the States simply cannot afford to keep locking up so many people at so much cost.
This is the downward spiral of a great power in senescence. It ends in collapse, reformation or revolution, when it becomes clear that the rents of the Ancien Regime can no longer be afforded, and too many of those who were bought off are thrown off their dole.
The Tea Partiers, however misguided they may be in many respects, have been thrown off the dole. Whatever they are called, they will not be going away.
Looks like the Nixon goes to China analogy caught Ian, too.