For some reason we seem to focus our economic stimulus on automobiles, bridges and the promise of new technology to make us green…all wrong!
Auto stimulus placates the UAW and more autos make the need to build roads and bridges that much greater. Building bridges and fixing roads gives jobs to people who build bridges and fix roads and gives states more money to spend and technology, well the current thrust for technology is to build giant monster wind generators across the land and at sea and to make the American West look like a solar panel version of Levittown. And guess what, if we do all that green stuff successfully it may be able to generate as much as 10% of our energy needs. Whoopee!
I have a better idea…coupons. You heard right, the good old American bargain that gets those shopping juices flowing and people to the stores. Look at it this way, consumers make up the bulk of US buying and stimulate the economy more than anything else stimulates. Small business is the driver of new jobs and the economy so unless you believe that autoworkers and construction people can stimulate us into a robust economy you have to get to the average person. At the risk of incurring the wrath of N.O.W., that average person in this case is a woman.
A stimulus check is saved and lowering payroll taxes is not even noticed, but a coupon, well a coupon gets a place of honor on the dinner table or kitchen counter or is placed in a special folder within the pocketbook. It means something; it’s real money and it gets people buying. Who does not want a bargain?
So here is my plan, the federal government issues coupons, you take the coupon to the store of choice and shop to you drop. The retailer turns in the coupon for the cash from the government (well it is really from you but, hey if it’s from the government we all know it’s free). Think of it as reverse ration books (assuming you know what that is).
You get to use the coupon to buy anything you like, take a vacation, dine out, whatever. Except you cannot use it for necessities like food, gasoline or utility bills and the like, you gotta spend, spend, spend at your local store or restaurant.
But, here is the catch, the coupon expires in thirty days and they are issued in waves across America, not all at once and then we start over again. Now, given the American penchant for spending, once we are in the store and we see a sign that says half off or two for one, we buy more even without the coupon, we use the plastic and Citibank now has more of our money to repay the government that lent them our money in the first place. Why not just borrow from the banks directly while you shop and cut out the middleman? You realize that we were all happy being in debt and borrowing from our futures, it was only when we were told that we were in
debt that we became unhappy.
I bet if we used coupon economics Linens and Things would still be in business.
There you have it, simple, something Americans can relate to, you avoid giving money to the states to give to the towns to give back to us after everyone has taken a cut and you stimulate like never before.