Stimulus II: The sequel
By John D. Turner
14 Jul 2009

It’s like a bad sequel to a bad movie. It’s like “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes II.” Yes, there was a sequel, and even (shudder) a sequel to the sequel. So now we have Stimulus II, the sequel. It seems, they say, the first one didn’t work so now there is talk of another. And like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes III (“Killer Tomatoes Eat France”; hmm, maybe that one wasn’t so bad after all in retrospect) even talk of a third “stimulus”.

If you think it strange that there is talk of a third stimulus package when the second hasn’t even been defined, and the first has yet to pay out even 10% of the amount to be spent, just keep in mind that this is brought to you by Congress. Even Hollywierd cannot surpass Congress with strange goings on and plot twists.

The thinking here is that, with unemployment still on the rise, the stock market falling again, and the hoped for “green shoots” apparently sprayed with Roundup, the first stimulus simply hasn’t worked and another shot of adrenalin is therefore needed to jumpstart the economy’s heart.

Perhaps if adrenalin was used the first time around instead of a placebo, we wouldn’t be talking about breaking out the defibulators now. The problem with the first stimulus package was in calling it a stimulus in the first place.

To me, the biggest surprise is that people are surprised that the stimulus isn’t stimulating. Had anyone bothered to read the bill before it was passed (quaint idea, I know) they would have discovered that most of the money doesn’t get spent right away. In fact, most of the money doesn’t get spent this year at all, and all of the money isn’t spent until 2019. Some stimulus. It’s sort of like injecting a heart attack victim with medication that won’t take effect until sometime next week.

That’s because despite the stimulating title, the stimulus bill was a spending bill, not a stimulus bill. It’s like the administration put out a data call to all the Democrats and asked them to send in a list of all the pent-up spending demand they had accumulated for the past 10 years or so. The amazing thing is that there was such a backlog of projects to fund, with all the spending the Republicans had engaged in over the past eight years. Then again, congress critters can always be counted on to find “worthy” projects in their home districts to spend money on.

To be fair, much of the Republican overspending (with the exception of the prescription drug benefit, the “bridge to nowhere”, and other notable fiscal faux pas) was due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to recapitalize the military after years of increased wear and tear due to wartime operations; in the case of the Air Force, wartime operations going back to the First Gulf War in 1990. Having said that, the Republicans ladled out quite a bit of pork as well.

Now, thanks to the government’s response to the country’s economic woes, there seems to be money for everything, except of course the military which is taking cuts to “pay for” the excesses everywhere else. The Pentagon was told to cough up $50 billion in cuts, which it did by cutting major procurement programs affecting primarily the Air Force. Fifty billion sounds like a lot of money, and it is under normal circumstances. It certainly will have an effect on the military budget, and in our capability to defend the nation down the road. However it is dwarfed into insignificance when compared to the mammoth $1.8 trillion dollar deficit projected for 2009. Interestingly though, it was enough to pay for the GM bailout, which coincidently cost us $50 billion. Perhaps the military should now own GM.

And where did the money come from? Well, we begged, borrowed, and printed it, the latter being the government way of saying we stole it. Stole it in the sense that when you create money out of thin air by printing more of it, what you really do is make it worth less than it was worth before; in essence, “stealing” its buying power. I still have $10 in my wallet, but now it only buys as much as $5 used to buy. It’s called inflation, and if you haven’t seen it rear its ugly head yet, don’t worry, you will as the government overspending continues to flood into the economy.

But wait, it gets better. Most of the money has been borrowed. That means it has to be paid back. And since the government isn’t a business that makes a profit on the sale of a good or service, there are only three places the money can come from; additional borrowing, printing additional money, or raising taxes. The first two will just make the problem worse, although it won’t stop the government from doing it anyway. The third will suck money back out of the economy.

To me, this is why the government borrowing money to inject into the economy doesn’t make any sense; they are just going to have to take it back out again eventually. With interest. What they are telling us is “I’m giving you $100 today! Go spend it! I’ll be taking it back, plus an additional $10 next year.” Actually, it’s worse. For many of us, they are instead saying “I just gave your neighbor $100 today. I don’t know what they did with it, and I don’t care, but next year, I will be sending you a bill for $110. Have a nice day!”

So now we have Congress talking about a second stimulus bill to stimulate the economy because the first stimulus bill wasn’t stimulating enough. We have Joe Biden telling us that the administration didn’t understand the full magnitude of the problem, even though they were touting it as the worst economic crisis since the great depression, and assuring us that we needed to pass nearly a trillion dollars in spending immediately, without taking time to find out exactly what we were spending it on, or the economy would crater. And we should believe them now?

Are we stupid here or what? We are mad at Wall Street and the banks for the housing crisis. We want their heads on a platter. We are mad at Bernie Madoff, the dirty greedy so and so. We want his head on a platter. We have watched our savings, and our home values, and our retirement accounts lose large chunks of their value and we wonder what we are going to do next. We’ve done what we were told we should, we’ve played by the rules, and now look at things. We want somebody’s head on a platter.

And yet, look at what we are about to do. We are about to turn our entire health care industry over to the government, because some people don’t have health insurance. It hasn’t worked out well with any other country that has tried it, but that’s ok. Somehow, because we are the United States of America and we have all those bright guys and gals up there on Capitol Hill to take care of things for us, it will work here when it hasn’t elsewhere. We need to take a stand people; it’s going to happen unless we stop it.

We have just had two of our three major auto companies taken over by the government. We now own 60% of General Motors. Did anyone ask you if you wanted to be a 60% owner of a bankrupt car company? Does anyone think that Congress will be better at making a profit selling cars than GM was? It hasn’t worked out well with AMTRAK.

And that doesn’t count the banks we now own. Banks that were anxious to take the “free” bailout money and now wish they hadn’t. Turns out it wasn’t as “free” as they though; there were strings attached. And now they dance the government puppeteer’s tune, with the likes of Barney Frank telling them what salary they can receive, what bonus’s they can pay, what kind of loans they can make, and probably how many sheets of toilet paper they can use when they – well, you know.

We are about to enact a “Cap and Trade” bill to regulate “carbon” emissions (really carbon dioxide emissions) to save the planet from Global Warming. This bill will, by the president’s own admission, result in energy prices to going through the roof. We will end up paying more for everything because everything depends on energy. Other countries that enacted such legislation before us are now dumping it because it is ruining their economies. Even the premise the tax is based on, Global Warming, is in dispute. Evidence is growing that there has been no warming for a decade, and that we are instead entering a cooling cycle. It is becoming more and more apparent that Cap and Trade is in reality an attempt to pass a massive tax to pay for the massive overspending by government, playing on our fears of a global catastrophe better suited to a Hollywood script than to actual real-world events.

We have an administration that is pretty much admitting that they really don’t know what they are doing, but if they throw enough dollars at the problem, then surely it will go away. Really? What about the problems that causes? Anyone ever heard of the phrase “the cure is worse than the disease?”

It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back”, where a pink bathtub ring gets blown all out of proportion by the attempts of the cat (and his little cat helpers – picture Tim Geithner in a cat suit) to fix the problem. Only thing is, I don’t think that anyone will be able to come up with a can of Voom at the end to make it all better.

So my question is, when do we start asking for Congress’s heads on a platter? How much mismanagement has to go on at the Federal level before our elected officials are held accountable for their actions? Why do they get to spend, spend, spend our hard earned money and we just get to bend over and pay, pay, pay? It’s not enough that they are spending our money. They have spent our children’s money, our grandchildren's money, and are starting on our great grandchildren’s as well.

You know, if they don’t know what they are doing, perhaps they should stop a minute, catch their breath, and find out before they start signing away trillions of dollars in spending that they don’t even bother to read before they sign. They seem to think that if it’s spending, it has to be good doesn’t it? If I throw $1 trillion out there, I have to stimulate something. Funny, they didn’t say that when it was the Republican’s spending; how come the Democrats get a pass?

And I am getting pretty tired of hearing about how it’s all Bush’s fault; Congress spends the money, the President just signs the bills. And Congress was controlled by the Democrats for two years before Bush left office. Where was their fiscal outrage then? I seem to remember them talking a good talk during the presidential campaign, but the spending went on regardless.

The main thing I remember them getting upset about was the spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. Well guess what? We are still spending on both. And it appears we will be for some time. We may be drawing down in Iraq, but we are ramping up in Afghanistan. The dollar amounts don’t seem to be going down.

Besides, it’s July now. When are this administration and this congress going to take responsibility for their administration and their actions and quit trying to blame others for what they are doing?

You know, it’s interesting that the mainstream media portray the thousands of tea parties that have taken place around the country so far as being attended by a bunch of right-wing loons complaining about their taxes being too high. Well, I have been to two of them myself. It’s not about taxes (although that will undoubtedly become a problem in the future), it’s about spending and concerns about government control over our lives increasing exponentially. Taxes are part of it, primarily insomuch as we don’t see any way that all this can be paid for without taxes going through the roof somewhere along the line. Between taxes and inflation, we see ourselves being squeezed like a pimple to pay for obscene spending that isn’t doing what was advertised, and even more government control over our everyday lives.

Our chains are being forged not by some faceless enemy, but by our elected officials; not all of us out here are willing to trade our freedom for a little perceived security. There are some of us out here who still remember what the Revolutionary War was fought for nearly 235 years ago.

The MSM would know this if they did an honest job of investigating and reporting instead of shilling for the left and sucking up to the administration. But I guess that is to be expected; the leftist progressive agenda is their agenda by and large. It is getting to the point where they don’t even try to deny or apologize for it any more.

It is time we started holding Congress accountable. We need to let them know that the spending has to stop. We need to let them know that we expect them to earn the money we pay them; that means that when they pass legislation, they have to know what is in the legislation. They have to read it, and be able to debate it on the merits. If the bills are too big to read, then they need to write smaller bills; break them up into smaller pieces or learn to write more concisely. Preferably both. They are supposed to be the custodians of our money, not the drunken binge spenders.

We need to pay attention to what is going on and give them feedback on where we think they ought to be, and what we think they ought to do. And if they decide not to listen, well, there are elections coming up next year in 2010.

How about if we let them find a new job in this economy that they have so far failed to stimulate despite more spending than all the other previous administrations in the history of our country combined? We could throw 435 Representatives and roughly 33 Senators out on the street. What a signal that would send! Heck, with that kind of turnover, it would take a while for them just to get organized again.

Meanwhile, call your congress critter and let them know what you think about “Stimulus II”, Cap and Trade, Universal Health Care, and every other damn fool thing they come up with that costs us money we don’t have, hurts the economy instead of helping it, and takes away still more of the precious freedom that our forefathers fought for and shed their blood for, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for, that we and our posterity might enjoy the blessings of Liberty that they secured.

Thomas Jefferson once said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Our tree is withering, but it is not dead. We are a constitutional republic; we effect change by contacting those who represent us, and ultimately at the ballot box, not at the end of a sword. Let’s refresh our tree by watering it with our phone calls, letters, and emails to our representatives, letting them know that we the American public are awake, interested in the direction our country is headed, and unhappy with their choices.

And if that fails, perhaps a good pruning at the ballot box is in order.