A phone call from a contemporary the other day gives a glimpse into the existence I and perhaps many others find. I really appreciated his call. We have exchanged such about once a week since sequester. We usually do not vote the same way on state and national candidates, but we have mutual respect and defend the other’s options. In jest he asked if I’d got my ‘stimulus check’ yet. “No,” I explained (and still have not as I write this piece). “But, I’m enough of a ‘Socialist’ I’m ‘gonna’ take it,” “I’m a ‘Capitalist’ just so far as time and circumstances will allow,” I added. Taken aback a bit, he processed what I’d said and laughed. The irony is that almost everybody likes a gift. We might not call a $1,200 stipend a gift. I don’t know how someone could arrive otherwise. I’m no longer amazed at other people’s reasoning. I worked for the late George McLean and heard him quote a lot of Bible Scriptures, a few colorful euphuisms and punctuate his message with the theme that individual and collective production cannot count on a Santa Claus. Usually in request of money for projects, he’d earmark his organization’s pledge with a ‘challenge’. He’d require the recipient to raise a certain amount before his generosity kicked in. “Help yourself, and I’ll help you, too,” was his theme. On the other hand a friend of mine told me about a conversation the other day where a person told her that while she admired former President Obama, she was glad he was not president. “He’s not a billionaire, so he couldn’t give everybody twelve hundred dollars like Trump,” she said, apparently thinking he was giving it personally. Oh, well! There are all kinds. “Science’s brightest minds are attacking this virus,” an out-of-town acquaintance whom I’d not heard from in several years called to tell me the other day. “But I’m scared about the economy. What will we have when this is over?” He’s right. I don’t disagree with help our government is sending. Sure, there will be waste. Yes, even fraud. But when there is nothing with which to buy food and necessities or pay rent and a whole lot of other things we take for granted, we are locked in abyss. While I was still a beat reporter, I recall a conversation I had with a long time merchant. He related how his store continued to carry a brand. “During the Depression, the company paid its ‘drummers’ (sales reps) in hard cash and encouraged them to spend it in their market areas. There was just no ‘real money’ anywhere,” he recalled. People who cussed the previous administration as our nation’s debt hovered in the ‘upper trillion teens’ just five years ago, now have nothing to say as we roar toward the mid-twenties in trillions spelled with a ‘T’. Although I never had an economics class, I recognize a ‘Capitalist Society’ survives on consumer spending. In the mid-60s during a downturn, some tax reductions were made and LBJ went on national TV to urge folks to spend. “Take your tax savings and buy a new washer or dryer or some other appliance,” he urged. Of course, the ultimate tax benefit amounted to about half what such an item would have cost. I guess the thought was what counted. I think a lot of the stimulus has already been spent.
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