“I don’t know why I should even bother to eat this.
I should just apply it directly to my hips.”
Rhoda Morgenstern in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Let me make a simple and practical suggestion to the President and Congress: Cut out the middleman and mail the 145 billion dollars directly to China. That’s where it is going to end up anyway. The America people will thank you for not filling their homes and garages with more junk. And…this is important…you can boast to the people that you kept the government bureaucracy out of it.
“70 Billion…70 Billion…Do I hear an 80? What’s that? Ah, 100 Billion. 100 Billion once, 100 Billion twice…Wait a minute, you said a hundred-and-twenty-five? A hundred and twenty five billion, folks. 125 once…Hold it, this is a long distance call from the Middle East…Yessir Mr. President. 145 Mr. President? What a great heart! 145 billion once, 145 billion twice…The United States of America — sold for 145 billion.”
That was the sound of presidential aspirants not wanting to be left out of the stimulus bandwagon, only, as is the frequent case, to be out-hustled by a lame duck president. No need to jostle, people. There is enough for all, about 1600 dollars if you are a family, plenty more if you are a corporation.
Will this help pull the stock market out of the daily beating it has been getting, and reverse the loss of over a thousand points in a few weeks? Save families from the looming credit card bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures? Bring back the fled jobs of Michigan? To the last, which John McCain, closet poetry-buff as revealed to Billy Kristol, might answer with an “all the perfumes of Arabia will not…”
Which is exactly wherefrom the 145 billion figure emanated, while President Bush was on his Mideast tour. In true Wodehousian fashion, the nodders, assistant-nodders and yes-men of Congress, Reid, Pelosi and the rest soon did their duty. To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land, and a nice elegy to a graying administration (and a betraying Congress?).
Except that the land appears not to be smiling.
Two days after the announcement, after perking up briefly, the stock market shook its head and turned south, and hasn’t looked up since. There was news of one financial giant after another being bailed out by foreign money, again in the billions.
Here was the political class, effectively saying to the country, “Oh, you’ve lost your job? And your home? I feel your pain. Here, this drink’s on me”.
It has long been my sense that America being a country in a hurry in accelerated times, one may detect an early onset of dementia politicana, even while the country is relatively young.
A few notable symptoms:
* After the experience of Vietnam (1964), heading to Iraq (2003)
* Shocked by Florida in 2000, doing nothing in Ohio in 2004
* Voting for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, voting for a similar resolution against Iran in 2007
* Falling for the Supply-Side myth in 1981, falling for it again in 2001
* Passing NAFTA in 1993, Passing CAFTA in 2005
* Still switching to voting machines without any traceability
* Having seen that granting amnesty in 1986 doesn’t work, seeking to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants again in 2007
Now this: In 2001, after Bush and Cheney took office, Congress passed a tax refund of 300 or 600 dollars per family, saying it would stave off recession. That and the tax cuts for the wealthy. Then we had a surplus.
Now that we have the biggest deficit ever, we need to think on a much grander scale: Sixteen hundered instead of six, and more tax cuts for the rich.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote that you cannot step into the same thing twice. But he was talking about about rivers.
NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN lives on the West Coast. He can be reached at email@example.com.