Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Economic Stimulation

The government is talking about sending us checks as a means of stimulating the economy. The last figure I heard was $600 per adult, plus $300 per kid, so a family of four ends up with $1800... unless you're on the upper or lower end of the economic range, in which case you probably won't get anything.

At the risk of sounding un-American, I don't need that money. I hope that doesn't sound like bragging. It's not that I'm so rich - we just live within our means, we're comfortable and not in debt and not itching to go out and buy $1800 worth of anything. Sure, we're planning to remodel our tiny master bathroom, and the money would help there, but we were planning to do that long before anyone started talking about these checks.

So yeah, I don't really need the money. The more I think about it, the more I'm coming to conclude that I don't really want that money. At the same time, I'd rather the government not have it either, so I guess giving it to me is better than not, but I'm thinking there must be a meaningful, creative way to put that money to use, serving the community rather than just myself.

Wouldn't it be cool if a big group of us all banded together and decided to use the money for real "economic stimulation," giving it to people and causes that really need it? All those people who used to wear WWJD bracelets should seriously consider this course of action. And for what it's worth, I think it would be a relatively easy $600 (or $1800) to give away, because we weren't expecting it, weren't counting on it, hadn't budgeted for it...

How about you? Do you really need that money, or are there people around us who need it more?


Kim1.0 said...

I hear ya, big brother. The money isn't enough to change our lifestyle and it won't make or break our budget in any way. That being said, it will be nice to get since my maternity leave is unpaid and I hear that babies cost money. But like you guys and your remodel, we were already budgeting for this event. Maybe we'll just consider it a birthday present from Bush and put it right in baby's first bank account. Or maybe I'll go buy $600 worth of kitty litter to take to the humane society.

I try not to spend money before I have it, so I think that I'm going to wait to decide until I actually see the check.

The Dan Ward said...

Or you could adopt $600 worth of cats!

Having a baby might qualify as a good reason to keep/save/spend the money yourself (those little rascals are expensive!).

I agree it makes sense to wait until the check actually arrives before committing to anything, but I figured I'd throw down the "give it away" gauntlet before people start making too many other plans for the money.

Rhet said...

>unless you're on the upper or lower end of the economic range, in which case you probably won't get anything.

I'm not sure where you're getting your facts but that isn't true. The bill being worked in the Senate would give rebates to people on the "lower end of the economic range"...being an election year, they'll probably turn the rebate into a refundable credit meaning you'll get it even if you don't make enough to pay taxes. ( Whether or not someone who didn't pay taxes should get a tax rebate is a whole other debate...) But you're missing the real reason behind the rebate. It's not about putting money into the pockets of people that really need it nor is it about giving you a little something extra for the savings account or your childs 529 plan. Most people *will* spend the rebates and that will generate a trickle-down effect throughout the economy and that's what the government is counting on. You (and I) are anomalies...most people in American spend more than they earn, they do not save and they are unlikely to view a windfall as something to be given away or tucked away. This plan is about giving the overall economy a boost in the arm, not about helping needy people. There's a lot of evidence that this effect is precisely what happened last time the government sent out rebates. I think the rebates are a good idea. However, they will have a very short term effect unless the underlying causes of economic slowdown are addressed such as housing crisis and resulting credit crunch, expensive energy, etc.

Rhet said...

I mean to add to my previous post that if you really want to do something good, SPEND the money to buy stuff and give the stuff to a cause or person that needs it. You'll accomplish your objective as well as the government's.

Keith Giles said...


As my Aussie friend's are fond of saying, "Good on ya, mate!"

While the purpose of these rebates is to stimulate the economy, our purpose as followers of Jesus is to emulate his example and show compassion to the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the outcast, etc. (See Matt 25)

Therefore, I think your idea is a great one. It helps us see blessings like this as opportunities to bless others. It keeps our hands open to receive, and to give away to those in need.

Blessings to you, my friend!

Keith Giles

The Dan Ward said...

Hey, thanks for the comments, everyone! Good discussion!

To Kim 1.0 - I wonder if the money could help extend your unpaid maternity leave (I don't know if you can extend it... or if you'd like to...)?

To Rhet - I realize the version being debated in the Senate is different than the one the House already passed - but who knows what the final version will be? And I agree the government has an intent behind this check, but the question on my mind is "What should I do?" regardless of Congress's preference. If I have to chose between helping the hungry and boosting the economy,I'll take the former - although I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

We could spend the money at Walmart, therefore boosting the economy and (ultimately) creating jobs for the poor... *or* give the money to a food pantry / shelter / pick-your-favorite-charitable-organization, let them spend the money at Walmart, while helping the needy a bit more directly. I prefer the direct approach, while recognizing the indirect approach may be valid as well.

Kim1.0 said...

I'm sure that there are plenty of families who will put the money to good use. I like your way of looking at this Dan: "What should I do?" I'll try to look on the positive side, buy a lot of kitty litter, and hope for the best! :)

Good topic! :)

(I think that I'm all maxed out on the 12 weeks time off that I'll be taking in terms of how long my job will be held and benefits continued. Unless I used the extra money to bribe someone at HR, timeoff and not money is the limiting factor.)

revolution said...

i lost my job last week. we could really use $1200.

that's 2.5 weeks salary.

The Dan Ward said...

Sorry to hear about the job loss - that stinks. I hope something new comes up for you *way* before these checks start getting mailed out (in May, I think).