Saturday, January 24, 2009
I'll stimulate you if you stimulate me
So Barry Obama (I like to call him "The Big O" now) is talking up his economic stimulus plan. Looks like we're going to get stimulated to the tune of $820 billion. Or is that $820 trillion? $820 octillion? Is that dollars or pesos? Well, who's counting? Wait - maybe that's how we got into this mess...
Anyway, this whole stimulus thing is way too complicated for a simple guy like me, but the way I understand it there are several methods my government can use to stimulate me:
1. Give me some of somebody else's money. Democrats favor this approach generally, and most everybody likes to get some of somebody else's money. Except the "somebody else" who has their money taken.
2. Give me back some of my own money. Republicans favor this approach generally, and I like this but I would just as soon have some of somebody else's money. Either way works, just as long as I get some more money.
3. Print some more money and set it out on the streets in big buckets. Neither party has really suggested this but I think it's a good idea. Have trucks with bullhorns and a guy on a mic saying "Fresh new hundreds! Bucket of money here! Come and get it! First come first served!" That's a real picker-upper.
4. Attach an electrical device to my nether regions and pass a little 110 through me. This probably won't do much for the economy. This kind of stimulus is mostly reserved for use when we capture evildoers, like terrorists, jihadists, and Dodger fans.
Not so many years ago when I was a radio talk show host, there used to be a lot of people bemoaning the loss of industrial jobs in the economy - bothered that we weren't making stuff like steel and T-shirts and cars and crockpots and soap dishes and electrical devices made to attach to the nether regions, and selling all this good stuff to other people in the world. They used to say "pretty soon we'll all just be selling each other hamburgers."
I'm not sure if there's a big difference between the two concepts. Let's say I sell you some steel or some crockpots, and I use that money to buy some of your minivans and soap dishes. Is that really a more significant economic exhange than if I sell you a cheeseburger on Tuesday and buy one from you on Wednesday? Isn't it all the same paper trading game, the same passing around of money for things or services? Does it really matter if our primary product is coal or cuff links or pop singers or toaster pastries? There isn't much of what we buy and sell that has any real intrinsic value anymore - it's all value we place on things . And so the whole paper passing game is just peachy - until all of a sudden some a-hole decides that something on which we had placed a lot of imaginary value now does not really have that much imaginary value. Then that a-hole's bad attitude spread to some other a-holes, and lots of people start doubting the real hard value of their crockpots and hot lather shaving dispensers and - well, shit, that's a problem. The emperor has no clothes! The jig is up!
So that's where we are right now - a massive collective freak out because we stopped buying each other's cheeseburgers. So you want to fix the economy? Buy something! Now, for Pete's sake! It's just that simple. What do you mean you're being cautious? You're lacking consumer confidence? That means you are the problem! You are the root cause of this recession! What are you, some kind of communist? Get up off your wussy ass and go to the mall right now!! There's bargains to be had on ice cube trays and particle-board furniture and posters of movie stars and chewy dog treats and Magic: The Gathering card sets and six packs of crew socks and Chex Mix and bundles of toilet paper too big to fit in your trunk and extension cords and - well, you get the idea. Doesn't really matter what you buy, just buy. Buy a lot. Ask not what your country can buy for you, ask what you can buy for your country!