Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rube Goldberg, Phone Home

By Barnie Day;

Want to experience the audio equivalent of deer-in-the-headlights? Call your senator, your congressman, your governor, your delegate, your state senator, your commissioner, your member of city or town council, or your mayor and ask how the $1 trillion "stimulus" package coming out of Washington sometime around mid-February is going to work, what form it will take, who gets the money, how the dough will be disbursed.

This is not chicken feed we’re talking about. Or is it?

Remember the $600 "stimulus" ($1200 for couples) the government put on your credit card and gave to you in 2007? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the "stimulus" package of 2008, the one that insisted that things would be alright if banks that got into trouble making bad loans simply made more of them? Remember? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the Detroit bailouts? You know–that one– where we pay the car makers to re-tool so they can build more cars that people don’t want to buy. Chicken feed.

Virginia’s $3 billion deficit? Pfft! Shoo! Go Away! We’ve got a trillion dollar issue to sort out!

Don’t bother asking if any of this makes sense. We’re way beyond that. We’re in the netherworld, that mind-place that says you can borrow yourself out of debt, that dark warm place some people jam their heads into and shout in a thousand muffled voices, "A trillion dollar deficit is horrible so let’s double it!" (Assuming China will loan us another trillion.)

And don’t bother dragging the economists into it. They’ve all succumbed to lemming-think. Let them sleep.

So what to do? How shall we sort it out? How shall we understand what’s coming?

Herewith, three approaches:

1. Do the math. If it’s a trillion dollars, and 40 per cent goes to tax cuts, that leaves $600 billion in direct government spending-healthcare, bridges, whatever. It won’t be distributed fairly (in politics, the fair leaves in October), but let’s imagine, for the moment, that it will be– say on a per capita basis. That works out to about $1714.29 for each of us, or here in Patrick County $32.5 million–about enough to build another two miles of U.S. 58 up Lover’s Leap Mountain.

2. Go for the audio equivalent of the deer-in-the-headlights, mentioned above.

3. Ask your cat. At least mine had the decency to offer a throaty "meow." (I cheated, though. I was holding a carton of milk when I asked him.)

No comments: