Stimulus Packages That Might Work (and what’s not working now)
You can tell I’m not an economist, or a politician, or a professional historian or anything, but this is how I’m seeing the story of our economy.
First, some backstory.
Ronald Reagan came along and said, “Let’s give more money to the rich people.” And they did. And the magic numbers all went up and they said, “Look, the economy is great!”
It wasn’t great for everyone, but it was great enough that the complainers didn’t get much attention, so that was good enough.
And nearly every president since has said, “Let’s give money to the rich people!” even down to Obama, although admittedly the bank bailout was started by Bush and Obama wasn’t about to change policies in midstep. (If Obama does anything the slightest bit radical, people will freak. But they end up freaking out anyway…)
So, how’s that “giving money to the rich people” thing working out for ya?
They tell us the magic numbers are up. Or were, for awhile, at least. They scratch their heads now and wonder if the economy will still recover or what?
The reason they are so confused is that politicians and economists have become disconnected from what all those numbers are supposed to mean. Pieces of paper get traded back and forth between the financial players with increasingly bigger numbers written on them, and they all go home from work at the end of the day and say, “We made money!”
I guess they did “make money” in a way. The numbers went up, their bank accounts are fatter, everybody’s happy…right?
No. Regular people are still losing homes and jobs and prices aren’t coming down and benefits are discontinued and the guys on tv tell you that the economy is getting better! ‘cuz the numbers are up! Give me a break.
What’s wrong with the economy isn’t that their isn’t enough money in circulation. Well, ok, it kind of is, but the reason there isn’t enough money in circulation is that the RICH PEOPLE ARE HOARDING IT. They’re hanging on to it and passing it back and forth and not using it to create jobs and businesses and farms.
So giving money to rich people, like in the hated bailouts, was the wrong thing to do. And all the unimportant “little” people knew it and we were all pissed as hell, but of course it all went through anyway. And why should they listen to us? Those people just don’t know anything about the economy!
Regular people do understand things about the economy that rich people just don’t seem to get. Money and wealth are not the same thing. Money is a representation of wealth. Money is only useful so long as you can trade it for something of real wealth, something you can actually use…a meal, a car, a house, the services of a handyman or a babysitter. Money is great for exchanges but you can’t eat it or wear it or live in it.
In a society, you have to have people to grow food. And watch kids. And fix cars. And build houses. Maintain roads. Keep the peace. Heal the sick. Manufacture stuff.
You also need some people to manage money. That’s not a bad thing. But if you have a whole huge class of people that do nothing but “manage money” all day, you kinda have to ask yourself how much of that service your society really needs. Do we really need a bunch of Wall Street moneychangers to keep our country moving?
I think 90% of them could disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow and there would be no bad result at all.
It’s like this old Sesame Street sketch where the King gets an owie and the doctor fixes it and he decrees that “Henceforth, everyone in the kingdom will be a doctor!” and then there’s no one to cook food or put out fires and the King has to change the decree again.
I’d like to see some better stimulus packages that might actually work, like:
The Mad Biller: At Rainbow Gatherings, there’s this tradition/legend of Mad Dosers going around freely dosing random people with acid (though I’ve never seen it). Someone could do the same with money. Get some twenties, fifties and hundreds and hand them out. Go to the welfare office and give some to a mom or two. Hand some to shoppers coming out of thrift stores. Leave hundred dollar tips for waitresses. Stick one to the bathroom wall in Wal-Mart with a magnet. Just make sure that it goes to poor people and not rich people. The poor people will go out and spend it. And they’re not likely to spend it on derivatives.
Grants for Farmers: How many struggling small farmers are there out there that don’t qualify for help from the government? Seems like all the farm subsidies that gets handed out to “farmers” mostly goes to the big time businessmen who own huge farms, and anyone with a little land and the ambition to do something with it just has to go and get a second job to fund their little agriculture projects.
(Hell, every time I turn around I can think of something I need twenty bucks for…fertilizer, a tool, seeds, etc., but I can’t get any help from the government for that. I do what I can on my own, of course, there’s no use sitting around waiting for someone to hand me money, but if I was getting any, I’d sure as heck spend it on something useful.)
Grants for Small Businesses: Everybody and their dog in America dreams of working for themselves. Why not fund some of the good projects?
Or how about instituting something where someone with a business could get a small amount of money every month to help out? I picture a lot of moms with home businesses who might do just fine if they just had a little financial support. Sound too much like welfare? Put more of the emphasis on “helping an independent businesswoman” rather than “paying women to have more kids”.
(And did cutting welfare help the economy or reduce the deficit? It did not. It just made poor people poorer.)
Public Works Projects: C’mon, this is so obvious I’m embarrassed to even have to put it in here! Does no one remember the WPA? Let’s build some schools and rest areas and highways and community centers and stuff!
You get the idea, right? Let’s stop giving money to rich people. Let’s give it to real people who do real things that generate real wealth.