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Here's MY State of the State

I'm writing this a few hours before the State of the Union is assessed (for the last time!) by President Bush, so can't be sure of what he'll say. But if I were writing it for him (fat chance), here's what I'd say, cribbing heavily from Eileen Appelbaum, Dean Baker, and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.

Their idea is that we—the government, that is—direct the upcoming and inevitable economic stimulus package toward programs to tackle climate disruption. Sure makes sense to me. The specific proposals include a generous tax credit for installing energy efficient improvements for homes or businesses. A no-brainer, they say, partly because it would re-employ many workers recently laid off as the housing market collapsed.

A second intriguing idea would be massive subsidies for mass transit. Appelbaum, Baker, and Schmitt say that people take about ten billion trips on transit each year. For a modest $10 billion (the total package being proposed is around $150 billion) we could reduce the cost of every transit trip by $1, which would put cash into people's pockets and make transit more attractive.

Finally, they suggest putting auto insurance on a pay-by-the-mile basis, which would reward people who drive less than others and, he calculates, give about $300 to every driver who opts for pay-by-the-mile.

Will Mr. Bush go for such ideas? Of course not, but that doesn't make them any less worthy. If you have ideas to contribute to this general effort please send 'em along.