Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

How are you feeling about the economy? Well, how would a check, out of the blue, for $11,500 change your attitude? How about similar checks for every person in your family? Yeah, that’s what I thought! Suddenly things wouldn’t look quite so bad. So, show you the money, right? Otherwise, this discussion is only some cruel, far-fetched fantasy.

Well, I am happy to tell you that this is the beginning of a true story currently unfolding in our country, but like all stories that get your hopes up in the beginning, there is bad news to follow the good in this tale. Part of the bad news, as you might have guessed, is that I’ve already told you the good news. It is true that the United States government has currently set aside $11,500 for the benefit of each and every citizen of this great country, and has pledged to set aside double that amount for you in the future, if necessary. It is The Plan to get this country back on its Prada clad feet.

Now, sadly, I must break the news that you are not getting a check. You’re not even getting an I.O.U., like they are in California. The government is going to spend your $11,500 for you. Oh, and did I mention that you will have to pay this money back someday?

Phew! That part is out of the way. I am happy again to inform you that we just passed the worst point in this story. It didn’t hurt so badly, did it?

Oh, who am I kidding? It hurts like hell to think of all that cash that belongs to me, so close and yet so far away, being doled out at the whims of politicians, to their business friends and political supporters to spend, supposedly to trickle down to me eventually. Normally this allocation method works fine when what we need are new highways for more hybrids and fleets of F-22s to keep jet mechanics busy. We accept waste as part of the process to get the regular national housekeeping done. But, what we are talking about with the bailout/stimulus/save-the-world plan is fluff, if we want to speak frankly. The only plan for this money is to use it to keep us out of the economic abyss. It just needs to be spent.

I know that about half of you are rolling your eyes, thinking, “What of it? I have no idea how to jump start the national economy. The government can have my eleven-grand, plus change, to spend however they see fit. I’m happy to leave this to the experts.”

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The other half of you think that I am about to make loads of fun out of the dopes who think this way. Sorry to disappoint you. What I am going to do is remind them that we are the economy. If we are broken and need to be fixed, it’s not going to happen by pouring oil over the hood, hoping that it will drip through the cracks and eventually down into the crankcase. I say, smear the damn grease directly on the gears. (For the metaphorically challenged, that would be the palms of our hands; you know, the “machinery” that moves cash around.)

Rather than the circuitous routes of sifting our money through TARP, TALF, FHA, FDIC, FNMA, FHLMC, GM, AIG, CITI, and other CRAP, promising that this will somehow, eventually help me buy groceries, why shouldn’t Uncles Sam, Tim, and Ben put our cash directly into our hands to do with it whatever each of us deems appropriate?

I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea to simply give people their own money to spend, save, or invest as they wish, but I am ridiculous enough to believe that it isn’t.

Let’s think of some of the things “average” families might do with an extra $40,000. Some might save it. That would be good for the banks. Some might invest it. That would help bolster the stock markets. Some might pay down their mortgages and credit card debts to make themselves more financially secure so they feel less guilty about going to Macy’s. Some might buy new cars, even Chevys. Some might install solar panels on their homes. Some might even take vacations to places like Aspen.

It’s democratic enough to make Ben Franklin blush! Each person gets to vote on how best to revive the economy with their dollars. Each person gets to spend their money in the way that makes them happiest. Happy people make good consumers. Good consumers make a strong economy. How can the government’s plan work better than this?

The bottom line is that there is virtually nothing you could do with this fresh-off-the-press cash that would not help the economy immediately and effectively. Yet, our government believes that you could somehow screw it up.

I am not a right-wing crank who believes we didn’t need any stimulus for the economy to begin with. I am not a liberal who is dissatisfied that boatloads of money are going to corporate America instead of progressive social programs. In this instance, I am a wide-eyed American incredulous at watching astounding amounts of our money being spent without us having any say about it. Somebody screamed “crises” and we abdicated control of the pile of money that was printed for our benefit.

It’s a crazy thing to look through the history books and see great errors that befell great nations without the citizenry noticing. And we have the nerve to ask, “How could the people not have seen what was happening?”, when all we have to do is look.

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