There was an interesting article on Slate the other day about two depression era programs whose goal was to rebuild infrastructure and put people to work. The Public Works Administration (PWA) paid private companies to do projects, while the Civil Works Administration (CWA) hired people directly and put them to work. The CWA was a success while the PWA which funded the private companies didn’t do so well. It is an interesting read on history and ideas on how we can move forward. (Evidently parts of our current stimulus plan resemble the PWA more than the CWA). And while we could debate whether to have a stimulous plan, it looks like we will have one (or several). So, if we are to have one, I would rather have money go to infrastructure, and as directly to workers as possible, rather than billion dollars of bonuses to failed bankers.
Here is the article: Four million jobs in two years? FDR did it in two months.
As a side note, here is an article on the economic benefit of different stimulus provisions: A meaningful stimulus for Main Street