Power to the People (Make that the Gov’t)

Like many of you, I watched President Obama’s first prime time press conference this evening.  The first thing that caught my attention was the foliage surrounding the podium area, which seemed hilariously out of place.  Who sets plants side-by-side creating a grassy box for the President to stand in while addressing the press in the East Room of the White House?   Wide angle camera shots made me giggle every time despite the seriousness of the topic at hand.  Admittedly, the plant arrangements certainly helped to set the President apart from the press, and gave me something at which to snicker.

The other thing I found amusing was how the reporters asked five-in-one questions like this, “Mr. President, how do you think the crisis in Iran will affect our econonmy?  If it does affect the economy, how will you plan to address it?  Speaking of plans, what are you doing later tonight?  And can you answer the age-old question–briefs or boxers?”  Uh, what?  Are we talking about Iran, the economy, or underwear?  If I tried this tactic with the artists I interview, we’d get nowhere fast.  But their answers would be much funnier than the President’s.

Watching the President made me think, “Omigosh!  If we don’t get this bill passed, our country is headed into financial ruin.  It’ll be worse than the Great Depression…and I’ll have to burn my books just to stay warm.”  This is the worst crisis since the Great Depression, right?  Well, that’s what President Obama said anyway.  Fortunately, for now, the President is mistaken.  The late 70’s and early 80’s were much worse, just ask Wall Street.

Something needs to be done–that much seems obvious (although I do wonder what would happen if the economy would rebound if we let it take its course). And while I think building new schools and making government buildings more energy-efficient are both great ideas–they will not immediately stimulate the economy.  If the government wants to spend close to a trillion dollars on this project, which it claims will create 4 million jobs, then I think we need to slow down and make sure it’s done right.  Let’s not impulsively throw money at problems just because we’re scared.  Plus, according to several sources, if we gave the money presented in this bill to 4 million unemployed workers, each individual would be taking home a hefty $300,000.  In that case, let’s just give 40 million people $30,000 or 400 million people $3000.  That would mean $3000 for every man, woman, and child living in the U.S. (which is roughly 306 million folks).  Or we could just dole out $50 to everyone which would cost a mere $1.53 billion dollars.

Hmm…money in the hands of the people or in the hands of the government.  I wonder who knows how to best spend it.  Obviously, the government because they’re done such a bang up job already.  If money is power, then our government is getting more and more powerful as the economy plummets.   In fact, President Obama said it himself–the government is the only institution strong enough to shoulder this dire economy.  In essence, he’s saying that only the government can save us (*see full quote below.) Our heroes are a bunch of corrupt elitists who spend all day arguing with each other?!  Is this for real?!

Look, I don’t know about you, but I’d probably spend my $50 on something silly like a car inspection.  But there are people out there that need money now so they can feed their families, put gas in the car to get to work, pay their rent, and so on.  These are the people who need to be saved from financial ruin.  Maybe I should care more about the ecnomonic maze of investment, but I don’t.  I care about my friends in Michigan who no longer have unemployment trickling in.  Stop throwing money at the problem and fix the fundamental problem…and if you can’t do that, then send the cash directly to us (we, the people) because we’ve got a few bills to pay.

*(Full quote from the President’s opening remarks:: “It is absolutely true that we can’t depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life.  It is only government that can break the vicious cycle, where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do).

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