Did you get your stimulus check yet? I got mine last week, right on schedule. I used it to pay my AmEx back down to zero after I buying a plane ticket to the Bay for a baby shower next month (shouts to Virgin America and Shameeka). Iâ€™m glad to have the money, but I canâ€™t say I was checking for it.
Why not? The hubby and I were talking psychology over the weekend, and he brought up a phenomenon called orchestrated speculation. Iâ€™d never heard of it, but it pretty much sums up my attitude toward this whole business. It basically means that we buy into a benefit that doesnâ€™t necessarily exist, just because weâ€™ve been told, en masse, that it does. In short, it is reasoning based on inconclusive and incomplete evidence, and it is the same thinking that brought about the Wall Street Crash of 1929 â€”and the recession weâ€™re currently struggling through.
Let me back up. These stimulus checks are being issued by the Internal Revenue Service and are expected to total $110 billion for 130 million American households between now and early July. Single folks who made less than $75,000 last year get $300 to $600 back, plus $300 for each child claimed on 2007 tax returns. Once you get your funds (either via direct deposit or snail mail, depending on how you filed), youâ€™re supposed to use the money to buy stuff, which will boost the economy. Sounds good, right?
But letâ€™s dig a little deeper. First, think about where this money comes fromâ€¦ Got it? Thatâ€™s right, itâ€™s from your own tax money! Yup, this plan amounts to giving us back our own hard-owned cash. Itâ€™s just like the tax refund system, which just means that you overpaid your income tax in the first place. Nevermind the fact that if youâ€™d had that money in your paycheck, you could have put it into your 401(k) or an interest-bearing savings account and turned it into more funds. Free money? I think not.
Then examine what the government is telling us to do with the money: spend it. Maybe itâ€™s just me, but thatâ€™s what got us into this situation in the first place. You hear news every week about the credit crisis, whereby Americans have dug ourselves into debt buying crap we donâ€™t need and homes we canâ€™t afford. So why would spending this â€œstimulusâ€ money willy-nilly help the economy? If we really wanted to stimulate the economy, and therefore help ourselves, weâ€™d pay off debt to avoid future interest (see the payment on my AmEx above), save it in a high-yield savings account, buy into a socially responsible mutual fund, or, if weâ€™re just itching to spend it, come together and pool it to create institutions (businesses, schools, community centers) that can benefit our neighborhoods.
And look at what Bush is pushing people to spend the money on: â€œThe money is going to help Americans offset the high prices weâ€™re seeing at the gas pumpâ€¦,â€ Bush said last month. Word? Yes, oil reached a record $127.43 a barrel last week, but you mean to tell me we can bailout the U.S. economy by putting money in Big Oilâ€™s pockets? Get the f’ out of here.
I hope I didnâ€™t burst anyoneâ€™s bubble; you should definitely enjoy that check. Just be sure to spend it with your eyes wide open.
If you like Kenryaâ€™s opinion, check out the rest of her posts here.