Many pundits are proposing government-funded investments as a way out of the current recession. I wonder though, what is there to invest in? Certainly current infrastructure has deteriorated in the past few decades of neglect, but I haven't seen any indications that the deterioration is causing the enormous financial losses that would justify the kind of investment we need. Likewise we've seen in the past year that energy consumption can drop substantially in a relatively short time, with driving down 5.6% in one year. Green energy isn't needed so desperately if consumption declines.
Fundamentally investment is to increase production. But we really don't lack for goods, widgets, or entertainment. The real goal should be to improve lives, and I think at the moment that more time with family and fun is more worthwhile than fancier cars, bigger houses, or smoother roads for faster highway speeds. In an abstract sense, we might be better off with a smaller economy; happier, better connected, and more relaxed.
The problem, as with all major shifts, is that capital and human resources are misallocated for an American form of Dolce Vita. If we have that kind of shift in consumption many investors and workers will be left with no way to make a living. So perhaps the solution, rather than massive capital infrastructure investment, is investment in what we might call "home economics" training - teaching people how to live well and control spending, and how to help others do the same.