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$140 billion Stimu-later.

December 20, 2009


   An unprecedented chest of money was recently unlocked to bolster consumer confidence and stimulate economic recovery. Few understand what it can buy; and fewer still are capable of the spending spree.

 Let’s give it a little context: 

  • $140 billion is equivalent to the annual budgets for the U.S. Departments of Education, Energy, Justice, Agriculture and NASA… combined.  
  • $140 billion would buy a day at Disneyland for every child on earth (and their Moms). Or… 
  • 31,000 Predator drones, a fleet to fill the skies everywhere (we have 195 today). 
  • It also buys a Dallas Cowboys size stadium (the new one) in every city in America (bigger than Oxnard, California (pop 185,717) 
  • $140 billion would buy GM (again) – 230 times. We already did buy it (for about 2 billion), in addition to loaning them another 50 billion. However (since we’re buying companies) …  
  • $8.2 billion would buy Bombardier, one of the world’s leading rail and mass transit producers and give GM (and Michigan) another industry instead of more cash? This would move a lot of jobs and segues nicely into another 8 billion the President has slotted for high speed rail. Or perhaps we could put our money into science (or Mega Projects)… 
  • 9 billion would buy CERN (including the large hadron collider – the most ambitious and expensive research project in the history of human achievement). Technically, we can afford 15. 

     These examples provide perspective, and they’re fun (Bombardier may even be genius). But more poignant (and relevant to Americans) is that this amount of money translates to about $460 for every American alive. It is equal to $50,000 in mortgage relief for 2.8 million households or it could wipe out the credit card debt of over 17 million families. 

     Whatever we do, these are the terms: 

1)     Help Small Business? 

  1. Is it good for small business? The Salt Lake City Olympics (costing 2.3 billion dollars) tied up the city in excruciatingly heavy development for years.  Ask these small business people if unfettered construction was good for them. 
  2. Now imagine that ‘construction zone’ on a scale 70 times larger (in communities and cities across America). 

2)    Be Transparent? 

  1. What transparency can there be in a rush? What process (this streamlined) is representatively debated and thoughtfully considered. Whose ass is on the line? (Apart from the President’s) 

3)    Help Communities & Create Employment? 

  1. Bancroft, Idaho (population 382) requested 22 million worth of stimulus for their 144 households expecting to create 60 jobs (or $372,000 per job). 

4)    Exercise Common Sense? 

  1. So are we led by Tarantino’s Mr. Wolfe or Hanna and Barbera’s Joan Jetson? Once inspires confidence, establishes order and cleans up the mess with the resources at hand; the other grabs a wallet and dashes to the mall for shiny plastic things. 

5)    WARNING: Confidence & Risk! 

  1. We can’t afford the Stimulus itself going off  like a holy hand grenade in the bunker of American confidence.
  2. Reckless or ridiculous spending, favoritism or patronage (all of which are pretty high risks here), or the slightest contrivance, fiat or grift will outrage Jack & Jill Mainstreet, fuse the forces of discontent and shatter any prospects of a consumer driven recovery.

      We have a lot of things in need of attention in America; and nothing would invigorate our spirit more than getting a few done – well!

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