Stimulate the economy: Cash-for-Everything
Last week, the U.S. Senate added $2 billion tax dollars to the Cash-for-Clunkers Program. The Senate Democrats killed a Republican amendment that would have limited Cash-for-Clunkers to folks making $50,000 dollars or less. Apparently, the Democrats wanted the people with the big salaries (the very people they "say" they abhor) to partake of your $4,500. So, which is the party for the little guy or gal? (By the way, the Japanese Toyota Corolla now leads the American-made Ford Focus as the favorite new car in the Cash-for-Clunkers program.)
Even so, this Cash-for-Everything-Concept could have merit. How about: Cash-for-Criminals? As long as criminals would sign a pledge to end their life of crime, criminals could be rewarded with some of your tax dollars. Or, how about Cash-for-Guns? No longer needing their guns, the criminals might happily disarm in return for your tax dollars. Nah. That’s been done.
Okay, how about Cash-for-E-Mail-Neighbors? Obama Health Care Czar, Nancy DeParle, just issued an on-line bulletin to Obama supporters: “If you get an e-mail or see something on the web about health insurance reform that sounds fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.” (Sing along with me: “Making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice...”)
Wait, there’s more. Michael Fitzpatrick and Vivek Kundra of the Obama White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs are proposing that the Bush Administration ban against attaching “persistent cookies” to personal computers be lifted. (A “cookie” is a bit of computer software that allows the agency or person attaching the cookie to your computer to create a “profile” of the web sites you visit, and to discover with whom you are corresponding via e-mail.)
Folks who turn in their e-mail neighbors to the White House should, at the very least, get a signed presidential photo; however, snitching on your e-mail neighbors to the White House violates the post-Watergate Privacy Act of 1974. Ironically, our counterterrorism agencies are forbidden by law to do what the Obama White House wants done.
How about Cash-for-Bankers? If your banker won’t give you a low-interest mortgage, even though you cannot pay your phone bill, turn him or her in for cash. After all, a lot of banks got a bunch of stimulus-package money.
How about Cash-for-Condoms? Formerly-new condoms could be turned in to Planned Parenthood collection sites in exchange for taxpayer cash (paid in quarters, of course). This would stimulate condom sales, help prevent AIDs, reduce the number of abortions, and even reduce the number of births among certain demographic groups to which Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger, was opposed and about whom U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recently said were, "populations that we don’t want to have too many of."
Quoted, in part, and edited for clarity and taste, is a satirical proposal some other writer put on the Internet, and you can bet it has already been reported to email@example.com: "Cash-for-Codgers. Each senior in your household (aged 65 or above) may be turned in for $4,500 instant cash reward at a conveniently located Senior Turn-in Center near you. Each senior will be disposed of humanely, using an intravenous drip....This saves the Social Security Administration and Medicare from spending from $40,000 to $80,000 on their end-of-life treatments." Now, is that "fishy" or what?
How about Cash-for-Un-smoked-Cigarettes? That would make the powerful tobacco lobby happy. It would please the health and the environmental lobbies as well. Also, the government would have an unlimited supply of cigarettes that could be smoked in the Rose Garden -- out of the sight of the children.
The ultimate program would be: Cash-for-Cash. You turn in your cash to the government in return for pieces of paper that promise to pay back your cash someday with interest. Wait a minute! Didn’t government debt (spending) get us into this economic mess in the first place? Okay. Forget Cash-for-Cash. Bad idea. But do think about the others.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2009. William Hamilton.