Okay -- there is no economist in me. When John and I first met, I routinely wept over the state of my checkbook: always a deficit!
But my bank statements kept coming back with a hefty amount in my account, at least hefty for my 29-year old graduate student self. The bank said I had about $3000. My checkbook told me I carried a deficit of $30.
Every time a statement arrived in the mail, anxiety rendered me helpless. I cried and fretted. Really, I was broke. Something was terribly wrong. I would get into trouble, pretending to have all that money. Make that evil bank go away!
John queried me on my accounting methods.
Me: "Well, if I write a check for $4.80, I record that check as $6.00 in my checkbook, just in case. And if I get a paycheck for something like $327., I record a deposit of $300 or maybe $290. Just in case."
I had been doing this for three years.
John had no adequate verbal response to that wickedly clever accounting system.
Instead, he sat down with three year's worth of bank statements and figured out -- surprise!! -- the bank was right and I was wrong. I was flush. Liquid with cash.
So take the following with a tremendous grain of salt. But I am puzzled by the economic 'stimulus' plan brought to us by both sides of the political aisle. Sure, there are tax credits and snip and small ticket items hidden therein.
But the main stage appears to be the "Rebate." Uh, rebate for what, exactly. What coupon did I clip and mail?
Taxes seem like such a black hole. And we're, what? Oh, only 9.13 trillion dollars in debt as a nation. Whew. Things could be worse! We could have an amoral bottomless money pit draining nearly $275 million dollars a day -- oh, wait! We do. What with the Presidential candidates shifting their focus to the economy, I forgot about that darn war. Maybe the "Rebate" is on the $4,100 of my tax dollars that went to fund the war.
And the trillion dollar question is: is $600 for a single person a transformative number? Or maybe just one extra bill paid or one crisis averted. Surely, there are more problems down that road that a small amount of cash can't fix.
Our family will get about $2100 -- hey, that's $300 bucks for each baby I pushed out! I knew there would be payout.
Well, Nancy Pelosi and dear old George-- I'd rather have health insurance.
The $2100 we'll get doesn't even begin to touch our $5600. deductible or make much more than a nick in the $580 monthly premiums.
I heard one commentator say that the governmental powers that be hope we all head straight to a mall when those rebate checks come. Jump start that economy: spend, spend, spend.
But wasn't that the problem in the first place, on a national and individual level?
The entire situation seems uniquely American and irrationally exuberant, to boot.