Americans are the wealthiest, most over consuming human beings on the planet. And it seems we are spoiled rotten as well. The government today announced some preliminary ideas for an economic stimulus package to address the flagging economy. What! We aren’t inhaling every consumer good to come on the market at light speed? What! Fewer people are buying second and third vacation homes? What! We are only going to spend 2% more on stuff this year than last, instead of 4%? What! Some Americans might have to wait until their SUV or 4-wheeler is another year older before replacing it with a brand new one? What? A bunch of people and banks made poor investment decisions in the housing market and they may have problems as a result of their stupidity or lack of judgment.
The heart of this stimulus package, supported in some form by all presidential candidates by the way, is to give money back to people in some sort of tax refund. The idea is that if Americans get an extra $300 to $1,000 it will help a little in this time of great need. The hope is that they will go out and spend the money on more trivial and luxury goods, which in turn will stimulate the overall economy.
I’m sorry but I think the economy is fine. Sure, the housing market has slowed way down as it tries to get back in sync with reality. Sure, some people made bad decisions on easy loans but since when was it the government’s job to bail out masses of individuals. It is ridiculous to bail out businesses too, but we’ve done that before. This is new. The government is going to reward a bunch of people for making bad financial decisions and use my money, my tax dollars that I was able to pay because I didn’t make bad investments, to help people who I’m sure, for the most part, are wealthier than me.
I consider myself a liberal, which to me means helping out those who truly need help. Who, due to no fault of their own, can’t take good enough care of themselves. I support ALL efforts the help poor and hungry children, suffering animals, and the few unfortunate adults who are living in the streets or in poverty conditions. If a woman is single, raising kids, and has grown up in an impoverished society with limited education and employment opportunities then I understand her hardship and am willing to help her out with my tax dollars. If someone is living on the streets because of a mental or physical illness, or even just some really bad luck, then okay, help them out a little. However, America has gone insane with its idea of what it means to be needy. Since when was it the government’s job to give money to low, middle and high income people because times are a little harder than they were last year? Is it really going to deprive someone if they have to give up their premium cable package and get by with basic cable, or–god forbid–NO CABLE! How about NO TV! Argh, I’m terrified to the point of pulling my hair out because I might have to get by with three channels and a 24″ TV without high def. It is crazy I tell you. I see low- and middle income people everywhere, no longer just the rich, with two snow mobiles and a fancy trailer being pulled by a new-model ¾ ton pick up. I see dozens of young families with a couple of kids out to dinner on a Wednesday night and they aren’t at McDonalds but a fancy sushi restaurant instead. Then they drive home to their 2,800 sq. ft. home and dream about the day they can get out of this little shack and into something really big that proves they are a success. These are generally not wealthy people but your average American. Owning $20,000 toys and $500,000 homes has become average.
Is it really the government’s responsibility to ensure almost all Americans have all the toys and entertainment and affluence they want? And don’t even get me started about upper income folks, the wealthy, and the large corporations. Let’s not talk about farm and oil welfare programs, also known as subsidies for multi-billion dollar corporations. We are a bunch of spoiled rotten babies in America. Can’t people remember what it was like during the real recession that occurred throughout the 1930’s? The government did step in a little bit but only because people were literally starving to death in this country. Come on people, suck it up and sacrifice a bit. Give up steak house meals for five. Postpone your two weeks at the health spa until next year. Don’t buy a new home if you can’t readily afford it. Let the government bail people out when they don’t have a warm place to live, when their fingers ache with cold from the elements, when they have to eat catsup and grasshoppers to survive. Let the government support people who want to work and can’t get a job, or who are truly suffering in some way that threatens their very existence.
I don’t even know if we can blame the government alone. The media has turned a housing slump into a catastrophic recession. Individuals are being whipped into a false hysteria and made to believe that they can only be happy and successful human beings if they own all three video game formats and a 12 foot television. The government and politicians are reacting to the media hyperbole and the collective whine of spoiled American’s. Apparently the American public won’t vote for a president who says we might all have to tighten our belts a little, consume a little less, while the economy comes into balance. No, Americans want to hear that as the economy slows down and threatens their access to trivial things, that the government will bail them out. The one thing this situation has in abundance is irony. People and governments put so much emphasis on moral values these days yet it is this addiction to consumption and focus on a material wealth that has morally and spiritually bankrupted America. Giving us money back, a little something extra to tide us over, will only deepen our already impoverished souls.
Sure, I feel the slowing economy. I’m a little bit scared as I transition from a job that paid much more money but wasn’t fulfilling, to this new one as an artist. Now I’m happy but, for the time being, writing isn’t putting bread on the table or bringing home the bacon. What should I do about this? Quit and go back to full-time unfulfilling work? Ask the government for a hand-out?
I don’t go out to movies any more, except for the occasional matinee. We don’t eat at restaurants, and we buy very little meat or other expensive food items. We can hold off a little longer on buying new shoes; a little duct tape will keep them sound for another season. Basically, we’ve cut way back on our spending and we live simply. Perhaps there is a lesson in that for others. We aren’t spoiled, we’re happy.