The Stimulus Delivers: Boston's Revitalization
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If Mr. Hassett took a walk around Boston, however, he might be forced to change his tune. There is construction work going on all over the city right now; one cannot walk two blocks without coming across cranes, pavers, diggers, hard hats and paint details. Virtually the entire city is undergoing a magnificent transformation: Roads that have been hellishly potholed for decades are being completely repaired, cracked and crumbling sidewalks are being ripped out and remade, everything is getting a new coat of paint, and a whole lot of blue-collar workers are drawing paychecks for the first time in a while.
In short, the stimulus has come to Boston, big time.
Recessions are tricky things. There are a zillion economic-textbook reasons why they come, why they stay and why they go. The most intangible factor in the depth and duration of any recession, however, cannot be quantified or predicted: mood. If people start to feel better about how things are going, whether or not their wallets actually show it, the economy improves. The recession that hit during G.H.W. Bush's administration, for example, started to lift almost immediately after the election of President Clinton. Clinton didn't do anything in particular besides win, but the arrival of a fresh face after 12 years of octogenarian conservatives in the Oval Office sparked an elevation of public optimism that became the beginning of the end of that recession.
President Obama, it appears, understands this phenomenon quite well. People in Boston are going to see their elderly old town in a whole new, better light once these projects have been completed. The money paid to the workers is going to boost the economy, like it always has before. These repairs are going to dramatically diminish the state's municipal repairs budget, which will free up funds and ease its economic burdens.
This grumpy old town is going to have a fresh new face before the snow flies, and people are going to feel better about the future because of it. The stimulus money may not yet be working this odd civic magic everywhere in the country, but it's coming. In Boston, it's happening right before our eyes, and it's a hell of a thing to see.