Letter From Langdon: Let Me Spend the $168 Billion and I’ll Show You Stimulus
We could pay off our debt from 2002, save 63,000 jobs, cover the cost of a great flood, buy a cell phone company or dig out of the subprime crises. Or we could give my family $1,500.
President Bush winds up for his economic wallop
Like most taxpayers, I’ll get my fair share of the $168 billion economic stimulus package”¦..but the whole arrangement is confusing.
At first I thought the stimulus was meant only for taxpayers who really pay taxes, but now some advice-givers are telling folks who don’t normally file to send in an electronic Form 1040A. This will validate an annual income of $1 or more so the filer can get some stimulus, too. This advice for how to get a piece of the stimulus payments is apparently aimed at people who don’t actually have income.
The IRS seems to be telling some people to lie in a novel way (novel for IRS anyway) by claiming they earned money when they really didn’t.
Then I learned that the Internal Revenue folks are going to spend $42 million just to send us a note letting us know the check isn’t in the mail yet, but will be soon. And they’re putting together a special Form 4665 to tell us how to get our payment in case we don’t already know.
Apparently it isn’t enough to be merely a citizen. We have to be told how to be a citizen, or maybe even that we are a citizen.
The IRS is working overtime to spend the $168 billion stimulus that we don’t have, so that all the people who qualify can place our nation a little deeper in debt to countries like China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Those are the nations that buy most of our T-bonds and T-bills.
Here on the farm outside of Langdon, one of the things Dad taught me was that you don’t borrow money from a banker who wants to take your farm. It’s sort of the equivalent of inviting the fox over for a chicken dinner — and giving him the key to the chicken coop, to boot.
Image: Business Controls
It seems odd to me that we borrow money from the nation that opposed us in Korea and Viet Nam, the nation that attacked us at the beginning of World War II, and the nation where 13 of the fifteen 911 hijackers came from. In fact, it smells a lot like free chicken.
In 1997, Congress authorized a free grant of over $70 billion worth of the digital broadcasting spectrum. In 2000 it was predicted that broadcaster revenue from political advertising that year alone would reach $1 billion. I wonder what that same amount of advertising might have cost if Congress had made the broadcasters pay fair market value for the airwaves they were given?
The most recent estimate for the total cost of the Presidential and Congressional campaigns in this election cycle is that they will more than double from $1.6 billion in 1996, to $3.9 billion this year. Keep in mind, this is just advertising: 30-second sound bites, signs, and mass mailings. And there are no rules that say political advertising has to be informative or even honest. Every time I see a political ad, I marvel at how they spend their money. Come to think of it, every time I see how they budget Federal revenue, I marvel at how they spend OUR money.
Main Street in Greenville, Mississippi, at the river's great flood
Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Smith
To place the stimulus plan in perspective, consider these facts: Experts say that a great Mississippi flood like the one occurring in 1927, if it happened today, could cost over $160 billion. $160 billion, more or less, would cover the most recent estimate of the cost of subprime lending losses, pay the purchase cost of the cell phone company Verizon, cover the tab for all auto crashes in the US, equal the surplus of the world’s largest energy exporter , or cancel the debt to the Fed of all banks that are short term borrowers “¦.. and maybe save 63,000 jobs in the bargain.
$160 billion is equal to all the business done by the entire US credit card industry.
Somehow, it seems to me that giving our family of three, $1500, just doesn’t measure up to that.
I don’t mind folks getting their “free” payments. But I have a better idea than just giving out the money in small sums. We need to fix what’s wrong, and there’s one sure way to do it.
What Congress needs to do is give the entire $168 billion to me.
On the surface that must sound greedy, but living costs around Langdon are pretty reasonable, so we wouldn’t be wasting a lot of the stimulus on penthouse rent, vintage wine, or precious art. $168 billion would make me the richest man in the world, three times over. Even better, this is an election year. All I have to do to get the country back on track is to use some of the billions as campaign contributions for all the best candidates. I could counteract the other wealthy people who normally give to politicians hoping to enrich themselves with a government contract, get a tax break, or those who simply hope not to be investigated. All I need to do is to decide who the good guys are and buy $8 billion worth of truthful broadcast ads. I’d be out-spending the opposition 2 to one and eliminating the undue influence of crooked campaign contributions.
Playing Santa Claus with $168 billion
Image: Post Card Images
Did I mention that I don’t want anything in return?
A couple of years ago I got the idea that if a good solid candidate ran for office, people would support him. I always thought the whole campaign contribution thing looked a little off color. It wasn’t long before I realized that people don’t really care. They just vote for the guy who has the most yard signs. We vote for the people who send out glossy picture post cards that really don’t reveal anything about the candidate or what he thinks. We favor those who make us get up from the dinner table to listen to a recorded message about nothing. We support lying liars who make up bad things about their opponents that aren’t really true. And then we have the gall to wonder what went wrong with our government.
For $8 billion I can tell the world exactly what the problem is and fool them into voting for the right people for a change.
That leaves $160 billion.
For $159 billion I can pay off the government deficit from 2002. That’s when everything sort of started to go south with the war and deficit spending. It’s when we really started to seriously blow the Clinton surplus. I can turn back the clock and give my newly elected government, the ones that believe in truth in advertising, a running shot at success. Better yet, when the election is over I’ll still have $1 billion. I won’t be the richest man in the world anymore, but I’ll be the richest one in Langdon. Making me into the first billionaire in Langdon seems a small price to pay for getting the country back on track.
At any rate, it sure beats $1500.