Nobody is saying this, and probably only a few are even thinking it, but I’m just going to throw it out there anyway:
I really don’t need the upcoming $600 in pandemic assistance. And if they eventually increase that to $2,000 as President Trump and Democrats are encouraging, I especially don’t need that.
Don’t get me wrong. I know the money is coming, whether it’s $600 or $2,000, and there is no need to twist my arm for me to take it.
But my reluctance to do so is best explained by my experience with the first pandemic stimulus payment earlier this year, when most people got $1,200.
Instead of getting checks, my wife and I got debit cards. Most probably the idea was to make it easy for people to use the cards to put the stimulus money directly into the economy, but I transferred all of ours to a bank account.
That $2,400 wound up going toward a natural-gas backup generator for our home in November, so I suppose that’s stimulating the economy. Austin Electric, which sold and installed the generator, certainly thinks so.
But in all truth, we would have bought that generator without the first stimulus payment. We put one in after Hurricane Katrina, and it was a trooper for 27 hours after that tornado last April. But it wouldn’t start after that, making the decision to buy a replacement easy.
Any future payments may wind up going toward impulsive purchases. For example, the New Orleans Saints will host at least one playoff game, and possibly two or even three. Is it proper to use my economic stimulus money to buy a football ticket?
My point here is not to make light of getting this free government cheese. But my wife and I have been lucky this year when it comes to the coronavirus. I still have my job, and even though the newspaper’s revenue is down, we are still paying the bills and have 55 people working here.
Mary Ann, under surprisingly effective pressure from our kids, chose to retire from teaching a year or two ahead of schedule. But she has found a new career creating fourth-grade English tests and selling them to other teachers through a website. We get a kick whenever her cell phone makes a cash register sound to signal a purchase.
My discomfort about this second round of assistance headed my way comes from knowing that other people need it more: The workers whose jobs are gone, the single parents who have had to make child-care arrangements because schools have switched partially or fully to online instruction, the retirees who planned for their senior years with safe investments that have been undercut by artificially low interest rates.
Here’s another thing that bugs me: Nobody wants to talk about the concept of the federal government living within its means — trying to balance the annual budget instead of borrowing billions of dollars each year.
It’s easy to predict that with a Democrat becoming president this month, Republicans in Washington will suddenly be very concerned about excessive government spending. Give me a break.
When they talk about this, somebody should ask them why they allowed the federal deficit to rise by $8 trillion, to a total of $27 trillion, since January 2017.
A big chunk of that spending is due to this year’s assistance to businesses and individuals. It was an emergency and the economy needed help, but that free pass does not apply to the deficits that have built up annually for the past decade.
It’s now obvious that neither party really cares whether the government is spending too much. That’s OK today and tomorrow, but one day it is going to bite us badly.
By now, most of you are shaking your head, thinking, “You are wrong, Mr. Editor. I pay my taxes. If the government is giving out free stimulus money, then I want some!”
I get it. We all like free stuff. But I suspect that some of the people eager for another payment were the ones warning that socialism would descend upon America if Democrats got control.
It looks to me like the socialism of free money is arriving ahead of schedule.