25 January 2009
What, Exactly Are We Stimulating?
It's only day 3 and already the "come on, lets all be friends in the name of America" attitude is slowly rolling down a long, steep hill. While I don't think that's a bad thing (more on this in a later entry) I do think it's important to start paying very close attention to this Economic Stimulus Plan. Why? Because Congress has acknowledged they've only read 40% of it and it's being driven by statements like "we're going to create 4 million jobs by next Wednesday" and "these banks need saving."
Whatever happened to people in this whole process? We're bailing out banks, supporting institutions, ensuring the stability of our financial sector, etc. etc. etc. Furthermore, Bernie Madoff, who stole roughly $50 billion doesn't go to jail - he gets house arrest. I mean, what message is that sending? "Wow, you stole lots of money. Shame on you. Now sit in this luxury apartment, eat fancy food, watch TV and think about what you've done!"
Meanwhile, less than 30% of Americans even invest in the stock market and a majority of 35-55 year olds say they're actually experiencing a "negative savings rate," which is a nice way of saying they're losing money. Meanwhile, we're giving banks money?
I'm all for stability but I think it's crucial that economic stimulus focus on meeting people's basic needs, and because every bit of rhetoric thus far has focused on pretty buzz words, I can't tell you (and apparently Congress can't tell you either) what exactly we're going to be stimulating. In all, total spending will pass $1.5 TRILLION. I can't even fathom that much money. Mind you, it was apparently excessive spending that got us to this point in the first place. Heck, as long as we can just print more money we may as well, right?
Bottom line, pay attention and hold people accountable. If I remember correctly, it was Ben Bernanke's press secretary who, when asked how they picked the $700 billion amount for the bailout said: "we wanted a really big number. You know, so it really seemed good." No irony. No sarcasm. No sense.
Note: The image came from here and was the first thing that showed up when I did a google search for "stimulus."