Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Let Them Eat $600
my untimely take on the economic tax stimulus

George Walker Antoinnette doled out an $168 billion economic stimulus package to Americans this spring. Eight years of war and irresponsible fiscal policies had turned out to be not so good on on the ordinary Americans who had been so taken with his down home accent and beer buddy likability. Someone must have told him people were losing houses, were being charged almost twice as much for food and gasoline than they were when he came into office, were watching the dollar loose value as monetary unit, were losing jobs to burgeoning worldwide economies etc.

I'm thinking he also had heard something about a French queen who suggested her own suffering masses wouldn't starve if they'd just eat cake (or, I think she really said something like baguette). George W. didn't want to be beheaded, so instead of suggesting the people eat baguette, he robbed from their children's future and doled out enough money for every working adult to buy almost two 99 cent baguettes a day for a year.

Yay! Now that's a way to keep your head on, George. Of course, he wants everybody not to buy baguettes, but to buy CD players and large screen televisions. Because a drinking buddy knows that's more fun than baguettes.

1793, France:
"We're starving Marie!"
"Eat cake!"

2008, USA:
"We're losing our homes/jobs/dollars/sons and daughters in war/moral standing as a nation, etc. etc, George!"
"Buy a flat screen TV!"

Of course, it turns out people are using it for bills and mortgage payments, not the televisions. But we all appreciate the thought of using it to buy something more fun (I still want three rainbarrels, and we need a shed.)


We got back $1,500 as a family, and used it to open up a savings account for Grasshopper, something we hadn't gotten around to before. As far as we can see, the money is borrowed from her, so we're just giving it on back. (And, frankly, we owe her as family has given her checks we've cashed, but didn't have a place to put.)

And in doing so I realize we're lucky as a family, to be able to do this. We're not big spenders (it's true: this is the third year running I've wanted a rain barrel), we have jobs & health insurance, we're both paranoid about debt, and we haven't accumulated any. We have the right fiscal personalities, and we've had the right amount of sheer luck to survive a president like Bush, I guess.

I have to go now and pick up my grasshopper from the park, so I don't have time to tie this up neatly, or to make it less simplified. But I will restate my point:

The whole giving money back to individual Americans scheme felt sickening to me, and offensive in light of what $168 billion could be used for in terms of broad social programs, in terms of the real 'downturn' the giving of it is meant to alleviate, in terms of the real social, economic, and political horrors it is meant to avert our minds away from. But opening up an account in Grasshopper's name with the money our family recieved alleviated some of my anger because if it was robbed from the coming generations, at least I got some of Grasshopper's back.

Now I'm off with my head! (and my arms, and shoulders, and rest of me, to take my toddler for a dentist appointment.)


Anonymous said...

I just edited a book about demographics and the US. It was pretty depressing. Housing is at least 3 times as expensive as it was a few decades ago, even adjusted for inflation, yet incomes have not kept pace, not even close. No wonder both parents have to work to even be middle-class.

I admit that our stimulus check came in handy, partly to spend on our recent vacation and partly to put into savings. But I agree that it is ludicrous really. Definitely a diversion from real economic issues. What a mess to clean up!

Anonymous said...

Well put, I honestly never thought of it in those terms. True, I felt it was money we deserved seeing as how the economy has gone down the drain, however, I doubt this is going to do anything to "help" our economy. Most people are going to be using it on gas (so the rich can get richer) and bills. Not much of a stimulus to our economy. I read somewhere that he's thinking of doing another one this year because its not going to do much for our economy...what a waste of money. Although, I'd love to have it (and definitely need it) think of all the things that could have been created to actually better our country. He obviously has never looked at the big picture. What a waste of 8 years...

Jorge said...

I am trying to submit this post to www.parentsbits.com, but I can't find the link to it.


MaGreen said...

I appreciate that, Jorge.

The link is: http://www.grizzlybird.net/2008/06/let-them-eat-600.html

Jorge said...

Encourage everyone to vote for the story!

Jorge said...

One more thing. I was listening to a radio talk show who said this: For many people, the $600 will be good only to buy a month worth of gas

cake said...

great post! i too was disgusted by the stimulus package.

it is funny that you mention wanting a rain barrel for years. i have too! i jokingly asked for one for my birthday this year. it's weird that the purpose of it is to conserve, but they are so costly, it feels like a luxury. i am sure i could probably make one, but gathering the parts could end up costing almost as much, and i am not sure how easy it would be to assemble one that works as well as the "store bought" ones.

Amit said...

Re: rain-barrel, have you posted on freecycle? I've given away some free stuff, and got some other free stuff from it, including developing a friendship with someone I met through freecycle. :)