A couple weeks ago, I noticed something that I had noticed before, but still wanted to comment on.
Say that you are going out to get a burrito, what would you consider a cheap burrito? If I can find anything under 4 dollars, I am very happy, and I consider my burritos to be reasonably priced up to about eight dollars. If you are some type of troubled person that doesn't like burritos, I am sure you can think of what you consider a reasonably price falafel or plate of pad thai.
Now, imagine you are in the grocery store, buying food items to make a burrito, what would you consider a cheap price? Personally, I am like "3 dollars for a package of tortillas? 1.50 for refried beans? Who are they trying to trick with this?" Even though, of course, putting all my ingredients together, even if they are expensive, I could make about four or five burritos for the price of one 'cheap' burrito from a restaurant or cart. Now, of course I know the reasons for this, and also know that most restaurant burritos are better than what I make at home, but what is interesting is the psychological reaction to the prices, an instinctive reaction of "CHEAP! GO FOR IT!" or "NO WAY".
(Not to put a point on a post that is going to be long anyway, but this also applies to books. The other day, I thought it was cool that my textbook for a PSU class was only 30 dollars, and then shortly afterwards, went to Goodwill and thought I was spending a lot of money when I bought 10 good books for 20 dollars).
So that was going to be my original post, one of those "hey, how about that" things. But now, Alice's Restaurant style, I have to say I am not here to talk to you today about the price of burritos. I am hear to talk about the president's "stimulus package" plan. Other than giving us the funniest headline ever
, I think it is a bad idea, and how bad of a bad idea it is is only not apparent because of the burrito-price syndrome.
One hundred and fifty billion dollars is a lot of money. According to the helpful chart that littlebluedog
posted a few days ago, the discretionary domestic budget of the US is about 350 billion a year, so this is close to half of it. Even though there has been quite a bit of discretionary budget creep during the Bush years, he has still pulled out the same old "ZOMG" lines about growth in domestic programs. Which might be warranted, but why are many of the same people who are worried about whether a government program grows by 200 or 300 million dollars, now willing to drive up the national debt by 150 BILLION dollars, on the off chance that it might help the economy over a slight downturn? There doesn't even seem to be any evidence that this will help, especially given the fact that economy is still very inflationary. What it seems like is going on, is the republicans and democrats both have the master plan of "150 billion dollars, mostly from OPEC, Chinese and Japanese, to "rebate" to citizens, so they can go and buy some more oil and junk from OPEC, the Chinese and Japanese. On the off chance that it might help the economy get over a rough patch"?
The Democrats are failing because they are just shoveling the money out without trying to use it for social good. The Republicans are failing because...well, basically everything.
But again, what gets me is the massive disconnect in the use of money. For some reason, the government is too cheap to spend more than 1.5 billion dollars a year on renewable energy research, or 800 million in subsidies for Amtrak, something that could do some permanent good for the economy by decreasing dependence on foreign oil. But somehow, they do have enough money to give everyone in America 800 dollars to go buy themselves some new toys. This just seems to be sloppy thinking to me.