I can hear the poor people partying in the streets over the announcement of an economic stimulus package which will include hefty tax rebates for low-income folks—both the genuine kind of poor people and the “I only have a 56-inch HDTV and 600 satellite channels” kind. Under the plan, various people making under $75,000 (or under $150,000 for couples) will get back anywhere from $300 to $1,200 in the form of a tax rebate. “Tax rebate” is a nice way of saying “the government is going to cut you a check so you stop complaining about how bad the economy is.”
Unfortunately, the wizard of economic analysis that I am, I have determined that this economic stimulus plan will not help ward off the looming recession for three very subtle yet painfully obvious reasons:
- Writing checks to stupid people is stupid. I promise you that 90% of the money issued by this tax rebate plan will go straight to drugs, booze, and hookers. And that’s just my share!
- $300 cash isn’t going to help anyone. Most people who get their check will blow through that money in 24 hours or less. Yes, the purpose of the rebate is to encourage spending. But really, how much spending can you do with $300? One iPod, maybe some Pokémon cards. That’s it.
- It includes too many not-so-poor people. In some parts of the country, a couple making $150,000 a year is considered filthy rich. The folks on the richer end of the rebate spectrum will likely put their money into savings or use it to pay down debts—something that’s not going to do anything for an economy that needs more consumer spending.
I spoke to President Bush about this earlier and offered some alternatives to this plan, but he wasn’t able to respond because I was talking to a TV broadcast of him. Despite that, I think I got my point across when I suggested one of the following options as a substitute for this economic stimulus package which is destined to miss its mark. I’ll share my alternatives with you now so you can judge for yourself.
Ten Much Better Ways to Stimulate the Economy
- Send all $150 billion of the package to me. I will use that money to buy every household in America a George Foreman grill and the thickest, juiciest steaks that $1.99/pound can buy.
- Cut out the rich folks. Save the tax rebates for the five or ten percent poorest people in the country. They are much more likely to re-inject it into the ailing economy with spending on things they don’t need like expensive jewelry, designer jeans, and fancy cars (Chevy Aveos for all!)
- Send gift cards instead. Give everyone a $300 Target gift card. They’d kill two birds with one stone—consumer spending would soar, and Wal-Mart would be driven out of business.
- Put on the biggest party in history. Use the money to host an annual Economic Stimulus Party that spans every city in America. It’ll make Times Square on New Years Eve look like your child’s third birthday party.
- Fund “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny” containers around the country. I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually seen a penny in one of these things. How about sticking a Benjamin in each one and renaming it to “Take a Hundred, Leave a Hundred?”
- Start another war. These seem to be great for our country. How about we go after a country we could actually use for once, like Sweden. Then we could import all those hot Swedish women into the U.S. and help make our country look pretty again.
- Instead of spending it on Americans, spend it on Iraqis. I think we could make Iraq a very peaceful country just by dumping a few plane-loads of cash all over it. Most insurgents are probably just angry because they can’t afford a nice pair of shoes. That money might help turn them from following a religion of hatred and violence to one of material goods and wealth, just like us!
- Subsidize the rising price of milk. People getting stingy with their money and grumpy in general because they’re not getting enough calcium. Fear of brittle bones and rotting teeth are driving people to stash their cash or spend it on cheaper drinks like bottled water and beer. Milk, it does an economy good!
- A Nintendo Wii for every household. I don’t know why; I don’t know how; I just know that doing this would turn the economy around instantly. Or it might cripple it irreversibly as people stay home and play videogames all the time. There’s only one way to find out for sure!
- Pay the Hollywood writers to get back to work. If I don’t get some new episodes of Heroes and How I Met Your Mother soon, I’m going to stop spending money out of spite.
Of course it’s likely that none of my clearly superior economic stimulus options will be exercised, but I’m still looking forward to spending my $300 to help rejuvenate the economy. Though I can’t help but think that $300 worth of beef jerky might not be the best thing for me.