In the future, Presidential historians will no doubt chuckle to themselves over the vast similarities between the Presidencies of George H.W. Bush (41) and George W. Bush (43). They’ll probably say things like “You know, that President Bush. The one named George. With the recession. Oh ho ho.” This is the sort of thing Presidential historians find hilarious. It’s seriously right up there with rewriting Isaac Hayes’s classic as “Theme From ‘Taft'”. (Who’s the big fat schlub who got stuck in the tub? TAFT! Daaaaamn right…)
Anyway, the President got on TV today to tell us that times were tough and we’d all have to tighten our belts and etc. One of the many annoying things about recessions is that economists have to wait for half a year to go by before they declare one – that’s two quarters of negative growth, kids – while most non-economists could tell you there’s a recession coming the second they realize that a gallon of milk is the same price as a gallon of gas, or that the cost of everything seems to have doubled in the last year. Interestingly enough, my paycheck hasn’t doubled and neither has yours, and all that money has to be going somewhere and, frankly, I blame rich people. I suggest we follow Aerosmith’s lead circa 1993, and proceed to “eat” them.
However, the President had decided to do what he did last time, and give us all a big check. This plan is subject to revision, and Congress has to clear it and all, but it looks like we’re all going to have $800 to play with. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for this – I could use that money and so could you – despite my misgivings. So, before I proceed to tell you why this is stupid, here’s an uncharacteristically flattering picture of our current Commander-In-Chief:
(All right – there really aren’t that many flattering pictures of George W. Bush that aren’t either official White House photographs or doctored Photoshop jobbies where they put his head on Hitler’s body or something. So, here’s an amusing image of him enjoying Sunday brunch.)
Okay: $800 (or however much we get) is definitely going to help in the short term, especially if you consider that, if you add everything up, we’re probably paying that much more per annum (a word that means “year, but we’re talking about politics and money so we have to use big Latin words”). Like I said, everything except your take home pay has gone up in the last eight years, so that amount of money fills a hole. Temporarily, that is. And superficially.
Not only is this “buying our love with money” (an old trick in Republican power families), this also puts us as a nation further and further in debt. The question is, where is this money coming from? Well, probably China and a number of other countries. Which means that, down the road, we’ll have to borrow even more to invest in the sorts of industries that will create the sorts of jobs that will really fuel the economy. Sure, that’ll take five years, and people need a solution now, but it seems like we’re screwing ourselves over in the future here. Maybe I’m wrong – I’m no economist – but this still feels… wrong.
Also, who’s to say that prices won’t suddenly go up as a result of this? If I ran a Big Ass Corporation, my reasoning would be “well, folks have $800 extra, which they’re gonna spend, so I can raise prices on the stuff I make. And then keep ’em raised. And then I can buy a bunch of kittens and eat ’em.” It’s bad enough if the Corporation in question made candy or sneakers or motorbikes – things people don’t need – but what if it’s Exxon? Does this mean we’re up to four bucks a gallon now?
The weird thing is, whenever we all get a big old government hand out like this, it seems like Conservatism’s worst nightmare of what an American socialist state might be like. True Socialism would actually be nothing like this, because instead of a handout you’d probably be given a job you weren’t very good at and didn’t like, but I’m sure Newt Gingrich ain’t too happy about this. Me, I don’t see it as a “nanny state” move – as a staunch Democrat, I’m more likely to see this as the Bush Administration finally admitting they screwed up by offering to pay for the damage. I am, however, really worried about the future consequences of such a move.
I’ll take my $800, though, George.