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Thoughts from the Lower 40: The Million Dollar Question

By Wade Daffron

You remember that part in the first Austin Powers movie (WHAT?! You haven't seen it? ARGH! Go watch it...NOW! I'm not kidding. Don't even waste time reading this unless you've seen that movie. It is a cultural requirement!) when Dr. Evil threatens to hold the world hostage for "ONE MILLION DOLLARS!"

He is laughed at because $1 million was considered a ridiculously low sum of money. He eventually ups the ante to "100 BILLION DOLLARS!" and was somewhat rebuked because that was considered an unfathomable amount of money.

So, when our government (against the wishes of the common people, I might add), passed this "$700 billion bail-out," I fully expected Dr. Evil to pop up with that "MUUU-HA-HA-HA" laugh of his because the situation seemed so surreal.

Well, guess what? The joke is on us...and we're paying for it.

The supposed "save all" doesn't seem to be working.

This was the topic of discussion at the kitchen table of a Jabez home earlier this week.

As part of my duties as Extended Services Librarian for the Russell County Library, I get to take books to all areas of the county-Jabez being one of them.

When I was younger, I thought Jabez was pretty much on the other side of the world. I didn't now much about it, didn't know anybody there, and sure couldn't get around with an experienced guide.

Now, I feel like it is almost a second "home" to me because the people there treat you so well.

It was while visiting with some of my favorite patrons that we began discussing current events-mainly the economy, and the uncertain future.

Sure, gas prices have come down a little, but grocery prices haven't. Yep, it's fixin' to get cold, and heating fuel is higher than it's ever been.

And about that "bail out." In that cozy kitchen off a side road in Jabez (way past the "End of State Maintenance" sign), a wise, practical gentleman began discussing an "idea."

"Instead of passing that $700 billion bail-out," he said, "What if the government just gave everybody a million dollars?"

I sat there, perplexed, taking a long, slow slip of an ice-cold drink thoughtfully provided for me.

"What's the population of America?" he said, "It's around 300 million people, right?" (Sure enough, he hit it pretty close-latest figures estimate the U.S. population close to 305 million.)

I slowly nodded my head.

"So, if each person...and that's means everybody...gets $1 million," he said, "then, shoot, that right there would fix things."

My ears popped as if I had reached the peak of some tall mountain, and gained ultimate knowledge from a wise guru.

"You know what?" I said. "You are exactly right."

Of course, I suck at math, and eagle-eye Editor Greg Wells informed me that $1 million times 300 million people would total WAY more than the $700 billion bail-out.

But let's think of this along the lines of the recent stimulus "rebate." (And I'm fully aware the Democrats are considering a similar plan.)

If each person in America (and that means EVERYBODY) was given, let's say, $2,000-it would theoretically STILL be cheaper than the $700 billion bail-out.

And that would be more "fair" because money would be more evenly distributed among the mass population-instead of going to a chosen few.

OH! And don't EVEN get me started on the nearly half-million dollar "spa excursion" AIG officials took after getting a multi-million dollar "bail out" from the government.


Now, back to this plan...

Alright, I don't know about you, but most people I know could use some extra money right now.

If people were given an extra $2,000, it could help them:

(a) Make a house payment

(b) Pay on their debts

(c) They could spend it foolishly-thus stimulating the economy

(d) All of the above

If the government REALLY wanted to give you a "double whammy," they could give each person $2,000, then turn around and tax them for it.

But, it you handled this "gift" wisely, you could possibly keep it in reserve (I know, that's hard to do).

Some financial experts are suggesting people keep put at least three months worth of money aside to cover basic, household expenses in case of some kind of "emergency."

An extra $2,000 would at least provide a little "cushion," wouldn't it?

Honestly, I can't see a whole lot of people saying, "Oh, I don't think you should give me $2,000."

Would they take it? Oh, you bet they would.

And it would have to boost morale!

Let's do the math-$2,000 times 300 million people versus...$700 billion. Whew-that's a lot more zeroes then my humble calculator (or feeble mind) can handle, but the "$2,000 Plan" should be cheaper, and it would put money directly in the hands of Americans who need a little help in these trying times. (Wow! Did that sound like a campaign ad, or what?)

Of course, I'd prefer the "$1 Million Plan," myself, but that would never happen. If each American DID have a million, they could surely pay off their homes-thus solving the housing crisis, pay off debts-thus solving the credit crisis, and have plenty of "expendable income" to stimulate the economy.

Hey...what's that sound?

Oh, it's the sound of people writing and typing angry letters about this column.

I'm just throwing some ideas out there.

You know the government would have a plethora of reasons why something LOGICAL can't be done, but poo on them, I say. You just can't depend on them and even Dave Ramsey will tell you that.

It just goes to show the best ideas don't come out Washington, D.C.

The smartest people in the world are right here in Russell County, KY.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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