Friday, February 8, 2008

Stickin' it to the Man

Woohooo! Free money!

$1500 (married, one kid), thank you, US Government.


Oh, yeah, that's right, I forgot. We're sliding into a recession and, yeah, it's an election year. If I was the cynical type I might say that somebody is trying to buy my vote with this rebate. Or that certain Congress critters are trying to keep their seats. If I was a man of principle, I'd say screw you, Congress, I'm not taking the money - but, $1500? Yeah, to hell with principles, send me the check.

But, frankly I've got a couple of questions:

- Where is the $168 billion coming from to pay for this? Did we just have that laying around? Maybe Congress went to one of those "Payday Loan" Places in Suitland. Or maybe we just had it in the Halliburton petty cash fund? And if the government can afford to give it back, why did we have to pay it in the first place? If the economy hadn't taken a nosedive, what would that money have been used for? Good thing there are no programs that need $168,000,000,000 dollars. Funny how we've got the money for this rebate, but didn't have enough to buy body armor for the troops, or fully fund Social Security, or health care, or the No Child Left Behind Act. I'm guessing this money is coming from the magic election year printing press.

- How, exactly, will this jump start the economy? Hey, far be it for me to question the wisdom of the President and the Congress, I'm sure they know what they're doing [insert dubious expression and eye roll emoticon], but I'm just asking here. Let's say the average duel-income, no kids couple living in Southern California (and as we all know, these are the only people who matter in America) with the standard Socal $800K, 30-year variable interest mortgage are facing imminent foreclosure - one $1200 check is about half a mortgage payment, maybe less. Toss in a couple of kids, and they'll get maybe enough to cover one, one, mortgage payment. Maybe. Not that they should be spending this mad money on their mortgage; some members of Congress are afraid that people will actually have the audacity to spend their check on bills and such, instead of big screen TVs, Hummer H3's, and Britney albums - which won't help the economy at all. Unpatriotic bastards, those people shouldn't even get a check.

- How, exactly, does this 'rebate' address the actual underlaying causes of the nascent recession?

For example, how does this rebate address sustained high energy costs and lack of any kind of sane and practical national energy policy? Runaway oil prices led to things like the current ethanol hoopla in the corn belt (yeah, let's turn food into gas using a process that requires a shitload more energy than it produces), which is causing a drastic increase in costs throughout our entire economy - significantly increased food prices being only one of the more obvious effects. Everything depends on the basic cost of energy. Everything. How does this rebate address that? Maybe we could all spend our free George Bush Bucks on corn ethanol at the pump, then at least the good Republican farmers of Nebraska and Idaho could make their mortgage payments.

For example again, how does this rebate help fill the giant sucking chest wound that is the Iraq and Afghan campaigns? (Campaign, War, Conflict, Police Action, Liberation - whatever we're calling it this week) Which, incidentally, is helping to drive up energy costs. Nothing like a little conflict in the Middle East, eh? And you didn't think all those ships and tanks and airplanes ran on bio-diesel made from old French fry (sorry, Freedom Fry) grease did you?

Anyway, I guess the idea is that we take this money and go blow it williy-nilly on consumer goods - the King is saying that it's the patriotic thing to do. Now, you and I both know that these checks are a drop in the shiny economic bucket. $600 isn't going to make up for the losses in 401K and other investment plans. $600 isn't going to pay for a year's worth of gas for most SUV driving commuters. But, I suspect the idea here is really to provide a psychological boost to American consumers, not a financial one. Get people feeling good about the economy, and they'll spend not only those checks, but they'll go get loans and spend even more money. Sure the bills are going to come due some day, along with the $168 billion tab for this rebate, but hey, that'll be after the election, so no worries.

Me? I'm not having any. Sure I'll take the check, but I'm not going to play ball. I'm going to stick it in savings. That's right. And I encourage you all to do the same. This is our chance to stick it to the man. Power to the People!

Here's the plan: All of you, the millions and millions of Stonekettle Station minions - don't spend the money. Put it in the bank, stuff it in your mattresses, put it in a coffee can and bury it in the backyard, squirrel it away. Save it. Tell your neighbors, call your relatives, get the kids involved. Carpool and eat Top Ramen, turn the thermostat down to 45F, skip the family vacation, cancel cable, default on your loans, whatever it takes - but don't spend the check. Sure it'll be hard, there will be sacrifice, but in the end it will be worth it.

Then, one year from today we'll all get together and go on a spending spree!

See, here's the punchline - we'll take the money, but only spend it after the new President is sworn in. Then we'll give the new administration credit for saving us from recession. BahwahahahahaHA!

Who's with me?

Let's stick it to George W. Bush.


  1. I feel insulted. I've said it before - I probably can be bought, but not for a lousy $1,200.

    Our country has a ridiculous National Debt, engages in deficit spending as a matter of course, and now we're all getting handed some crisp bills and told "go buy yourself something pretty"?!!?

    Honestly, and truly, I feel myself insulted by the whole thing.

  2. Actually, investing it may be best for the economy in the long run. But it won't save the politicos' bacon in the short run.

    Me, I've got family obligations to go to the Orient this year. So I'm going to stimulate the economy with it. The Taiwanese economy. You could always spend yours in Canada.

  3. Actually I was thinking about investing in Russian internet porn - those people have been hit hard by the recession.

    Yeah, like my wife is actually going to let me have a dollar of that check. As if.

  4. Woo-hoo $1500 coming my way. It'll go right into the kid's college fund, not be seen again until 2018...

    Natalie (lurker)

  5. Hmm... The house needs resided, my grandmother's bathroom needs refinished, we need a new sofa...

    But I don't think that's gonna cover the big expenses. So into savings the money will most likely go.

  6. The idea of a privilged white boy "sticking it to the man" makes me chuckle, says the priviliged white girl. Hee!

    We were thinking about new carpet...

    Will I be voted off the lunch table (with associated action figures) if we invest it in our home?

    And who the hell incurs an additional $168B in debt when you can't pay the bills you currently have?

  7. I was planning to stick it in my Paypal account anyway. In an era of extremely crappy interest rates, Paypal mutual fund accounts are awesome.

  8. I just ran across this MSN Money article that explains the tax rebates as an advance on next year's tax rebates. So your "Payday Loan" analogy was pretty spot on.

  9. After I sneer at the check and the people that authroized me to get it, I'll probably use it to pay part of my property taxes.

  10. Hi Natalie Lurker.

    Janiece, And who the hell incurs an additional $168B in debt when you can't pay the bills you currently have? Uh, pretty much everybody in yuppie land - that's how we got into this mess in the first place - though, yeah, most yuppies aren't carrying 168B in dead horse, but still...

    MWT, hmmm, I know nothing of Paypal mutual funds. You interest (heh heh) me. I'll look at it.

    Anne, yeah I saw something similar to that in this week's Money. Funny how that wasn't in GWB's or Congress's announcement, eh?

    Tania, yeah, me too.

  11. Am I am not a privileged white boy. I'm Irish! :)

  12. That last would have been funnier without the typo, but hey, it's me.

  13. Michelle, your new avatar cracks me up.

  14. If you already have a Paypal account, it's a cinch to set up. Then it pretty much works the same way as it did before, except they give you money every month. No minimum balance necessary, no locked in commitments to leave it there for any set length of time, no punitive fees. And it's a highly conservative fund, so no fear of major losses. You can sign up for a debit card too, to make it even more useful on a daily basis.

    When I started, the interest rate on it was a tad over 5%. Now it's down around 4% - but it's still way better than the 0.8% I can get from my credit union.

  15. All Seriousness aside. Jim's lying... he's had his eye on a sharpening station for almost 6 months now and I can see the yellow and black box showing up in his shop the day after the check arives. As for me, it's beer money and if Jim had gotten rated by the VA for his diabilities he would surely have a thing or two to do with the additional $600 smackers that are falling into my pocket! Get rated! Ok having a disability or 6 in my case is not fun but it's bank baby

  16. That's a fascinating concept, MWT. Especially with the debit card capability.

  17. It is! :) Someone in the upper echelons of Paypal was a genius. Their customer service is really good too. It's like one of those too-good-to-be-true things, and I expect it's going to change how banking works.

  18. Wow, I sound like a Paypal commercial. >.>

    Also, technically it's "dividends" instead of "interest" ... but on my end it looks the same. ;)

  19. Jim, don't you think PayPal is the devil incarnate?

    And you are so a priviliged white boy. Just an Irish one. Hee!

  20. Beastly, well, yeah, I should quit dragging me feet on the disability rating. It took me two months to realize that the AF hadn't actually forwarded my fucking medical record, I'm such a slacker :)

    MWT, thanks dude. I will look into it. Sounds like a very good idea.

    Janiece, no I don't think Paypal is the devil incarnate - or not anymore than any other big organization with growing pains. I have had major problems with them in the past, mostly because somebody appears to have hijacked my account, or attempted too, or maybe something somehow. And PP suspended the account, which was OK, except that it took months of nasty emails to fix the situation. It became more trouble than it was worth. However, it's been a while, so we'll see how it goes.

  21. Oh, and Beastly, I'm not going to buy the sharpening station. I want it, oh yes I do. But that's what George wants me to do. I won't give the bastard the satisfaction.

    I'm holding out and buying it on Obama's watch, or Clinton's, whatever.


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