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June 9, 2008

Filed under: politics»issues»economy

Responding to Stimuli

This is not a post about how the Bank makes my taxes a mess, and hence I won't be getting my stimulus check until late. Because I am not the kind of person who would complain about such a thing.

A few weeks ago, my friend Chris P. put up a link on his Facebook feed about a friend's stimulus check. It's on howispentmystimulus.com, a site that I had no idea existed, and which I find slightly melancholy. The writer had traded in his stimulus for silver coins from the Federal Mint, as a protest against printing more money as a fix for the economic downturn. I'm not sure I applaud the exact sentiment, but I do find the protest appealing.

It's important to remember, and I think many people are unaware of this, but a stimulus check is not a gift. It's a loan, one that will have to be repaid at some point. It may be repaid by a future generation, and not by us, but the debt is still there. In many ways, it's a bet: the government wagers that by paying us money now, we will be in good economic shape later when the bill comes due. I am not an economist (I only play one on TV), but the wisdom of this policy is not immediately obvious to me. My check will go into savings, personally. I'm lucky that I can afford to do that.

It is interesting to watch the reactions on How I Spent My Stimulus. There are two basic trends that I've noticed. One side is composed of people who are struggling--they're spending the checks on medical expenses, or on home loans, or to pay off their debts. The other trend are people who use the stimulus to buy firearms. Large, shiny, high-caliber firearms.

This country really does scare me sometimes.

Future - Present - Past