stimulate this, congress

i like getting money as much as the next guy.

and a $600 check will certainly be welcome, and if/when i get my stimulus check from congress, i will put it toward a credit card balance.

but the idea that we have to send everyone checks to stimulate the economy is nonsense. you’d think it was an election year, the way that congress is nakedly pandering to the electorate.

perhaps stimulus is needed, although i maintain foresight and planning would have been better. but given this bunch of fools, that’s too much to ask. it was apparent to anyone with half a brain that the real estate runup was a bubble that would burst, just like the internet bubble and, indeed, tulip mania before it. wiser people than me could have figured out how to avoid all this, although i’m sure that most of the people who saw it coming were busy figuring ways to profit from the downturn.

i’m no financial genius, but even i knew better than to get one of these foolish interest-only balloon-payment mortgages. we got a thirty-year fixed mortgage for an apartment we could comfortably afford on just one of our salaries, in case anything drastic ever happened. and now i’m expected to smile while my tax dollars bail out idiots whose greed led them to buy more house than they could possibly afford, signing mortgages they now claim not to have understood. know what? you signed it. your decision. your fault. you pay the consequences, not me.

but i know that we live in a financially interconnected world, and if everything goes to hell i will be affected, and we’re all in this together, and what not. it’s offensive to me that our prosperity, and our financial rescue, will come at the hands of countries like china, who finances our debt while millions of their own people live in abject poverty. every time i buy something frivolous i don’t need, it comes directly from the blood of some poverty-stricken third-world person.

but, i’m comfortable, and it’s easy to ignore that, so i do, along with everyone else. when will the ultimate reckoning come? someday. i hope not in my lifetime. at some point, though, this country’s prosperity will come to a sudden, screeching halt, and it won’t be pretty.

in the meantime, we will stimulate the economy with $600 checks, plus $300 extra per child for the breeders. and now the retirees are complaining that they will be left out, so i’m sure someone will see to them as well.

michael kinsley and joe klein touch on this in their columns in time magazine this week. i especially like kinsley’s take, comparing the situation to a drunk’s bender:

I think we should sober up first. Plenty of people are still partying as if it were 2006. Right-wing radio talk shows are still dominated by ads for second mortgages. Every day’s mail still brings fat envelopes from companies begging to issue you a credit card. Every TV commercial that isn’t about some prescription drug for a disease you never heard of (but may well have, now that they mention it) seems to be for payday loans. Always borrow responsibly, they say. A little late for that.

Here’s a thought. Suppose we don’t go further into debt in the name of fiscal stimulus. Suppose we stop selling ourselves piece by piece to foreigners (and suppose we stop blaming the foreigners for problems of our own making). Suppose we use taxing and spending to show the world that we can behave responsibly, see how the world responds to that, and let the Federal Reserve Board supply the stimulus with lower interest rates. If we must have a fiscal stimulus, let’s make sure it’s not too enjoyable. Build some rapid transit; don’t give away any tax breaks.

joe klein comes to much the same conclusion. build some infrastucture. use the money to insulate buildings, make things more energy efficient, build mass transit. give us some energy independence, so we can perhaps avoid some of the troubles that got us where we are now. that’s too much vision to ask from our oilman president, of course, but we can dream.

in the meantime, i guess i’ll wait for my payola to arrive.