They're Giving Money Away

America's economic problems are just about over. As we get closer to April 15, I'm getting more and more excited about the administration's "economic stimulus package." I know it includes incentives to businesses and other things that I don't understand, but the most exciting aspect of the "package" are the $600 "recovery rebates." $600 may seem like a drop in the bucket for people in financial trouble, but it's better than nothing, isn't it?

Of course, the naysayers are cynical about the plan. They point out that the idea is to give money to those who need it most in the hope that they won't save it. Government economists want people to spend it: buy things whether they can afford them or not. Get that money into the economy. The doubters ask, "Isn't that how people got into debt in the first place?"

Putting that bit of killjoyism aside, let's not look a gift rebate in the mouth. Not everybody is going to get $600. Some married couples will get $1200. Higher income people will get less, and some won't get any at all. But the money will be given to the lucky people with low enough incomes to qualify. And since the figure of $600 is the one we keep hearing about, let's just deal with that.

People are soon going to have this influx of cash, and they will be overwhelmed. The cry of, "What am I supposed to do with all this money?" is going to echo across this land as an estimated 130 million people utter it simultaneously. I've done a little research, and I think I can help them with this problem.

For $600, you could get a nice, big HD TV -- if you can get together with four friends who also have refunds. Maybe you could have a rotating system so each of you gets the TV for a month or so, then it goes to the next friend, then the next. That seems a lot more practical than putting the TV outside, midway between all the owners.

In major cities, you won't be able to pay for an entire annual physical with all the tests for $600, so just hope there's nothing wrong with you in the areas that the doctor won't be able to examine.

I just checked, and you can buy about 395.70 Euros with $600. Oops! I checked again. It's down to 395.26.

You can get the cheapest iPhone and still have $200 left for accessories. So, if you don't actually call anyone or use the internet on it, you'll be able to afford one with the $600.

You can buy a new washing machine, but you'll still have to use the old dryer. You can fill up your car with gas about 12 times. You could buy 60 home bedpans or 6 shiatsu massage cushions.

You can buy 300 Viagra pills. Or you could buy 300 condoms. Maybe the sensible way to go would be 150 Viagras and 150 condoms.

You can get one or two dents fixed on your car. You won't be able to buy an entire new mattress, but again, if you're willing to share with some others who got the $600, you'll be fine.

Whoa! Now, you can only get 395.00 Euros for your $600.

Maybe you'd like to buy a lot of little things with the $600. You could buy 200 jars of pickles. You could buy 60 of those light bulbs that stick on the wall without having to be plugged in. You could buy 100 12-packs of toilet paper, about 600 containers of tic-tacs, or if you're feeling festive, you can get 870 packs of those Easter "peeps."

The point is, it doesn't matter what you buy as long as you buy. And spending all that newfound money is somehow supposed to help everybody economically. I know it doesn't seem to make sense, but I guess we're supposed to just accept what these professional economists tell us. Although, I do wonder what they're buying with their money. Oops! I just checked again, and now that $600 will only get you 394.66 Euros.