We all need to do our part for a robust economy
I got a check in the mail yesterday from the federal government, but I might not cash it. That's just the kind of guy I am.
No, not that check, not my share of the COVID- 19 relief package, I don't expect that for at least a few weeks and perhaps much longer, 'cuz if it takes our leaders months just to get the extra rubber gloves out of a warehouse to send to desperate doctors and nurses, how do they plan to move millions of checks any faster? I'm not concerned, though, because Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says it will happen, and if there's anything we've learned from him ... well, there really isn't. Let's move on.
My check has nothing to do with any relief package, even though the timing of its arrival in my mailbox probably had my carrier wondering why I got mine first while all the neighbors received was the latest recycling bin filler from the Supreme Court candidates accusing each other of allowing child molesters to open day care centers. My check was actually a bit of interest the Internal Revenue Service owed me in relation to a past income tax matter I settled a few weeks ago. Truth be told, I didn't even know it was coming. Of course, that's what I said about my first set of divorce papers. Again, let's keep moving.
Lest you think I've just received some monstrous windfall from Uncle Sam, I report for the record that my check was for all of $1.14. Yup, that's right, the federal government paid some IRS employee making maybe $30 an hour with full benefits including a pension to process my case, calculate the interest owed because I paid off a miniscule amount about 10 days before it was due, then cut a check and stuff it in an official United States Department of the Treasury envelope and dispatch it via first-class U.S. Mail. The final cost for refunding me my $1.14 I'd guess was somewhere around 50 bucks, give or take. Ah, your bureaucracy at work. Gotta love it. Or vomit when you think about it. Take your pick.
So now here I am, flush with cash (no, I really don't understand the value of money all that well), wondering what to do. Part of me wants to race out to the Jaguar dealership and use the $1.14 for a down payment on an XJ Special Edition, but then I remember my Daddy tellin' me, 'Son, with a face like that, you'd best be savin' every dime you ever see.' That's a hard piece of advice to forget, but I've been feeling sort of generous of late. Must be the collapsing economy (again, I'm not all that clear as to what my financial advisor means by 'You'll be flat broke by Memorial Day').
So I was thinking maybe I'd do my country a favor, and just stash this check away in that old cedar box on my bedroom shelf. Seeing that the federal deficit was at $23.7 trillion this week, I'm figuring it's the least I can do to forget about that $1.14. Sure, I'd have to go without a Pop-Tart or two, but in this time of national desperation, we all need to do our part. Besides, I just bought a 16-pack of frosted strawberry last night. I'm good for a while.
My worry with my benevolent effort is that the federal government ain't gonna appreciate it. I mean, once the big-spenders in Washington D.C. notice there's a little spare change in the checking account, they'll be fighting each other over how to use it. One senator will want to buy an extra rivet on a $4 billion aircraft carrier, another one's gonna' want to use it for half a brick on a $230 million mile section of border wall, and a third will want to keep the Social Security fund solvent for another two-thirds of a nanosecond. I mean, those are all good causes, sure. Just don't use it to fund NASA's plan to colonize Mars. That's where I draw the line.
Of course, when an average citizen like me makes a financial sacrifice such as this for the good of the economic well-being of his country, he doesn't do it for recognition, not that I'd refuse a Presidential Medal of Commendation. I mean, given that Mr. Mnuchin already ignores the 99.2 percent of the population that owns less wealth than he does, it would be foolish of me to think I'd be noticed for my selfless act, much less asked to become an advisor for the Federal Reserve chairman. Again, not that I'd refuse.
If nothing else, maybe when word gets out of my contribution (I'll be sending the press release to all the major new outlets as soon as I get the fax machine unjammed), it will inspire other common citizens to perform similar acts of fiduciary philanthropy. Can't you see it, if every one of us would give just $1.14 back, it would, well, I'm not that keen on the math, but it might be enough to start to turn around this endless cycle we're in of paying for things we don't need with money we don't have. I mean, a $23.7 trillion overdraft? Was every lawmaker absent the day they taught that concept in high school bookkeeping class? You know, I'm not usually the kind of guy to start movements (most of mine come shortly after a sauerkraut and polish sausage binge), but if this thing takes off, well, so be it. Really, if my $1.14 is all it takes to bail this great nation out of its monetary morass, there's really no need to put my face on the $9.25 bill (I mean, how cool would it be to have exact change for a movie?) whenever they start to print them.
There is one other economic school of thought on this matter, and that is $1.14 tossed into the economy is better than $1.14 tucked into a cedar box on a bedroom shelf. Just like with those coronavirus relief checks to come, economists want them spent, so it greases the system's wheels and allows a quicker recovery from the pandemic. If everyone just tucks those checks away, well, that just jams the gears even more, and before long our system will grind to a halt.
Hmm. I surely don't want that, so maybe, after due consideration, I'll just cash that $1.14 check and flood the economy with it. It's Tuesday now, so I'll cash it tomorrow, then decide where it will do the most good. Let's see, two cans of soda might be a good investment, or maybe half a loaf of bread, or -- thanks to the Russian/Saudi Arabian oil wars, -- almost a gallon of gas. I know, right? Who'd have ever thought we could say that again?
Anyway, watch the stock market report on Friday. My $1.14 ought to be making an impact by then. And Mr. Mnuchin, no need to thank me. Just doin' my part.