Just days after Hurricane Harvey left its trail of devastation across a wide swath of Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana, it has even begun breaking up the political log jam in Washington. And in the longer run, it may be just the forerunner of an economic stimulus program that will mimic President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The first tangible benefit of all this devastation was that the threat of a federal government shutdown in the early fall has begun to recede. Not only will the national debt ceiling be raised, but Congress will actually perform its primary function – providing sufficient funding for basic governmental operations.
Perhaps even President Donald Trump, who may continue to think that Climate Change is a “hoax,” will agree to spend tens of billions to ameliorate the effects of a phenomenon whose existence he denies. As a good faith gesture, he has already asked Congress for a $7.9 billion down payment.
So, the immediate economic benefit brought on Climate Change is that it may have helped avert a financial crisis and perhaps a deep recession if the debt ceiling had not been raised by early October, and the federal government defaulted on the national debt.
But Climate Change can provide our economy with periodic stimuli in response to not just hurricanes, but also to rising sea levels, heat waves and other forms of devastation. Just as millions of unemployed Americans were put to work paving streets and highways and putting up thousands of public buildings, think of all the jobs that we can create to protecting flooding coastal areas and rebuilding after future hurricanes.
Perhaps somewhat more enlightened future presidents might learn to embrace Climate Change rather than deny it. They could follow the example of the Texas Congressional delegation, which had long opposed paying to rebuild other areas of the nation that had been hit by hurricanes, but finally saw the light when they had one in their own backyard – in some cases, quite literally.
So when the next hurricane hits, the local radio stations can play old recordings of that cheerful Great Depression era song, “Happy Days Are Here Again!” Our best days are still ahead of us. Climate Change will make America great again.
About the Author
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books} which came out earlier this month.