Spend or Invest?

So, for reasons involving the Virginia Department of Taxation, I found myself digging through some old web sites for Inter.net this morning. As a part of this, I needed to make captures of the Library of Congress's web captures of Inter.net's 9/11 site, MyStory.Inter.net. As I needed to make captures, I had to sit through each page loading and basically ended up reading 135 individual stories of the 9/11 events and their effect. What I found was uplifting and disturbing.

Generally, there were a lot of sad stories, some by people whose lives had been affected directly and others by people who just felt the tragedy as a fellow American, a member of the group that was attacked that day.

But, there were also a number of stories of expats and at least one or two from foreign journalists covering the stories. This entire situation reminded me of all of the good will that roared forth from most of the rest of the world (including France, if you recall the "Today we are all Americans" headline from the large Parisian newspaper).

Unfortunately, my mood turned somber when I then connected this lost opportunity to a phrase that George W Bush stated around the time of the 2004 election win: "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style."

It's interesting to think about "his style," because the statement appears to be absolutely accurate. During the 9/11 aftermath, the US had a lot of capital, goodwill capital, and George W Bush set about spending it. After the 2004 election, he won political capital, and he set out about spending it.

However, wouldn't it have been better to invest that capital?

Perhaps it's just a commentary on the consumer-dominated debt-ridden society that we've become and the President is just a reflection of that. But, it makes me wonder if that capital (the good will after 9/11 and the political capital after the 2004 election) could not have been invested rather than spent, to accomplish something greater.