Economy and Hope

Are Americans actually getting smart?

I read this article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday with some shock. Could it be that Americans have at least figured out that saving money is not just for silly people, but actually a really good idea? And if you can’t save money, you should at least pay down some debt?

The article, for those of you who didn’t click over to look at it, was saying that according to results of a recent survey, most Americans are not going to spend the tax “rebates” that were just approved in a ridiculous and totally insane economic stimulus bill passed by the House. (If you hadn’t guessed, I oppose the bill. But, yes, I’ll still take the money. And…use it to pay part of my quarterly taxes.) The goal of the bill is to get Americans to spend money by giving them some of their taxes back, and instead people claim that they are going to be totally wild and insane, and…save it. Only 18% of the people surveyed said that they would spend the money.

The proponents of the bill are naturally disappointed. I think that they were hoping that they could win over the people who are resistant by pointing to growth in the economy after the checks were disbursed, and honestly I expected to see a jump in consumer spending, because most Americans are in fact stupid and greedy, and they will gleefully spend “free money.”

But apparently I’m wrong, and so are the people who passed the bill. Instead, people are making the economically sound choice of either putting the money into savings or paying down their bills. Perhaps there is still hope for America, and the voice of reason is slowly infiltrating our society, snaking through the doorways and seeping through the carpets.

According to the article, 71% of respondents recognized that the economy isn’t doing so hot, and 61% percent recognized that we are in a recession. (Not, as Mr. Bush would have us think, “a little slowdown.”) We are riding the stagflation train at the moment, in my opinion, and I don’t think it takes too much intelligence to figure that out. And I think that explains the results of the survey, because people are waking up to their situations and trying to dig themselves out. Once of the places where this is really showing up is in food prices, which are skyrocketing so much that Purity actually has a sign over the milk case explaining why milk is suddenly so expensive.

And food prices are something that I think Americans notice. If the government really wants to keep us complacent about what’s going on in the economy, they should do something to control food prices. Oh, wait, they already are, they’re subsidizing farmers left and right.  Of course, it would also help if we were spending money on American grown food and American made products, if we really want to keep the economy from tanking. But I know that’s foolish talk.

This “stimulus package” is going to end up being a total mess, and I’ll bet that the government will spend more to implement it than they will get back. If the government was as smart as the people apparently are, it would skip the rebates and apply the money to the national debt.