Indiana's Annette Silver is one example of someone taking that advice. When the 45-year-old mother of four lost her job at the Monaco RV plant, she applied for a $6,000 state grant and is now a technical school student learning how to make artificial hips and knees for the booming orthopedic industry.
"I've been out of school for 26, almost 27 years. So to jump back into school again is just overwhelming," she says. "But I'm a very determined person and a lot of the people here are determined because they are scared."
Most economists agree that after bursts of infrastructure spending and retraining, the best long-term fix is innovation, especially in the field of energy. With the right tax incentives, the wind farms of Indiana could quickly ramp up production, and Elkhart's idle labor base would be a perfect fit.
"We've hired guys locally who will not only work with us on this wind farm, but we'll take them with us to the next one down the street or the one across the country," says Ron Ritter of RMT Wind Connect.
Small entrepreneurs like Bill Keith are giddy over the possibility. A few years back he invented a solar-powered attic fan that uses the sun to cool the home. The growth of his small SunRise Solar Co. has been staggering thanks to states that offer tax incentives to homeowners who use "green energy."
"In areas where a utility company might give a rebate towards the instillation of a fan like this, we can barely keep the stuff in stock," he says. "So if that were a federal thing as well? We would just take off like gangbusters."
While workers retrain, readjust and reprint another batch of resumes waiting for all these plans to materialize, there is one thing both Nobel winners and RV workers agree on: the current bail-out strategy is doing nothing to create new jobs.
"I have every reason for confidence in the American people and our institutions but people can't do it on their own," says Stiglitz. "They need help. So while we've been giving help to bailing our failed institutions, the big banks, we've not been giving help to ordinary Americans to help them make the transition. Think about what $350 billion would have meant is we had used those to increase productivity of America's labor force, training, education."