This week the government announced the schedule for the delivery of our stimulus tax check. If you used an electronic debit to pay your taxes, you will get yours in early May. If you paid the old fashion way, then those checks will be spread out over the next three months with the latest being delivered in July. I don’t now about you, but if I was one those receiving my check in July, then “frustrating” would be the descriptor I’d be using instead of “stimulus”. With everyone else already in their money so to speak, the pressure to spend it ahead of time via credit card will grow exponentially. Just what we need, more pressure to use credit.
Meanwhile, the possibility that the U.S. will suddenly change into a nation of savers with this check continues to disappear as food and fuel prices escalate. The free market frame of mind that has held America and the world in thrall for the last 30 years is going to be more than difficult to shake off. Just as individuals have been captured in the credit debt cycle of living large, so is the U.S. caught in the cycle of being the world’s only super power. Both with the same type debt loads, and with the same spending styles. I see no reason not to believe that just as American lenders are extremly unfriendly when we don’t pay on time, so to will the foreign investor countries follow form.
Our problem, it seems to me, is our very own political and economic behavior. As a people, according to the last two elections, we eschew taxes. The lower the better. For the middle and lower class that means they will have a few more dollars upon which to survive. For the rich and the ultra-rich, it means they will have more and more to invest and sock away and pay for the richest standard of living in the world. Politically, because we are constantly stressed out over which party is in power, we almost never notice that economically both parties are the same old same believers in the efficacy of the free market. Though I don’t know if believe in is the right phrase at this point. Many of them may be finally noticing the free market failures but just like any credit debtor knows being locked in means paying for your mistakes right to the very bankrupt and foreclosed end.
Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Charles R. Morris’s The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. I am hoping it will provide some ideas for what we as individuals and as a nation can do to turn this disaster into an opportunity. After all, isn’t that what super powers do, save the world?