Economic
Repercussions
While government struggles with reform to meet the threat of future terrorist actions, individuals and families are understandably worried about the negative economic impact of the attacks, which came just as the nation seemed to be slipping into a cyclical recession. Dean Palmer sees reason for optimism on this account. A widely recognized expert on economic management, he is a public trustee of the Social Security and Medicare funds and has served as an assistant cabinet secretary.
      Palmer sees no evidence to doubt the structural well-being of the economy in the attack’s aftermath. Moreover, he disputes the notion that theAmerican economy was struck at a particularly vulnerable moment. “The biggest long-term consequences of this disaster will need to be dealt with through government financing,” he says. “Despite the fact that expenditures for clean-up operations, new security measures, and overall defense will be up while revenue is down, we’re in an excellent position to move rapidly in these areas because of our sizable surpluses. We’re fortunate as a country at this moment in our history in that we can make a determination of need and realistically say, ‘We will appropriate $40 billion for these purposes.’ The surpluses will let us get right to the jobs at hand.”

"We are in a battle between those who love individual
liberty, human diversity, and greater opportunity for everyone, and
those who don't."

            The availability of government surpluses, however, requires political will. Asked whether Congress, after two decades of reverence for “shrinking government,” is likely to provide necessary funding, Palmer says: “The fiscal discipline of recent years is what got us those surpluses. But fiscal discipline for its own sake is not something you want to blindly maintain during an emergency, just in the service of an abstract ideal. Prudent economic management requires that we err on the side of stimulus, in terms of both expenditures and monetary policy.”
      J. David Richardson, the Gerald and Daphna Cramer Professor of Global Affairs, is similarly optimistic about the international economy. Since 1990, Richardson has served as a fellow at the Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C. An early and vocal advocate of free trade, he is currently working on his 17th book, Why Global Integration Matters Most! and has closely monitored the international economic and political implications of the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings. “World trade has not been uniquely interrupted nor damaged by the attacks,” Richardson says. “It hasn’t declined any more than one might expect during any period of reduced overall economic activity.”
      Richardson is also encouraged that he sees “‘no evidence of any government anywhere in the world trying to close its borders to reverse its own slump. The technical momentum of the way that global production and distribution methods have spread around the world is just too great.”
      The only long-term negative effect on world trade patterns that worries him is the slowing of the movement of people across borders. If the situation becomes protracted, it could hinder international commerce, even though “the entire service sector accounts for less than 15 percent of world trade,” he says.
      Richardson is confident that border crossing tie-ups encountered since September 11 are a short-term glitch that isn’t likely to hinder the North American Free Trade Agreement. “New customs inspection technologies are available and will be brought into service,” he says. “You’ll see pre-certification of goods right at the factory point, which will allow trucks with sealed cargo to move right through. These things will make border crossings dramatically faster, even as greater vigilance is maintained.”

Unifying
View
      Impressive faculty involvement in such a broad range of concerns is not the entire story of the Maxwell School’s special value during this time of crisis. As an integral part of the student-centered research university, Maxwell faculty members teach more than 5,000 undergraduates each year in courses offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. This allows for a level of student-professor interaction that is rare at comparable schools.
      Political science professor Rogan Kersh, whose first book, Dreams of a More Perfect Union was published this year, perhaps epitomizes Maxwell’s institutional insistence on a unified view of the global and the local. In the September 12 meeting of his mostly freshman course, Introduction to American Politics and Government, Kersh—who was left “sleepless and heartsick” by the attack and the loss of a friend—found inspiration in the words of a World Trade Center survivor who said in a radio interview, “We must go on...we have to go on.”
      “I took that as my text,” Kersh says. “The next morning I faced a more silent and watchful group of students than I’d ever taught. I wanted to discuss events, but the nightmare seemed out of proportion to anything I might say. I told the class about my friend, and I reminded them of the sad potential for lashing out spontaneously at minority groups in response.”
      Kersh, with the students’ approval, then turned to his planned lecture about civil liberties in the United States. He says he struggled through his remarks, but was heartened later that day by an e-mail he received from one of his students. “I needed something normal to hold on to,” the student wrote. “I was glad you gave your regular lecture. And I’m really sorry about your friend.”
      Other faculty members were equally inspired. Professor Terrence Guay, director of graduate studies for the International Relations Program, found hope in the “compassion, generosity, and civic-mindedness of this country’s citizens,” he says. “Such characteristics are now needed at the international level to bring the perpetrators of these terrorist acts to justice.” Senior Associate Dean Robert McClure agrees, offering this standard for measuring combatants in this new kind of warfare. “We are in a battle,” he says, “between those who love individual liberty, human diversity, and greater opportunity for everyone, and those who don’t.”

 



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