Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Rebate to Myself

For those of you who haven't heard, certain members of congress have suggested that the government pay a $100 rebate check to every American taxpayer.

These Republican Congresspeople are apparently trying to (as a radio talk show personality whom I will not name might say) out-democrat the Democrats by handing out money to cushion the impact of high gasoline prices. I think this is a bad idea.
I have many opinions on the gas prices/oil companies issues, and I might be persuaded to dicuss more of them later, but this is so obviously the worst idea that has come out of the debate that I wanted to say something about it.
First of all, we give the government money, in the form of taxes, because it has very expensive things to do as mandated by our laws. In other words, we give the government money to do the things we have told it to do (by means of the representative legislators). One of these things is not to give money (our money) back to us in cash. It is very silly.
Secondly, who is going to pay for the envelopes? The administrative and distribution costs will make the average cost of the rebate checks slighly over $100. Meaning we will each get $100, but the corresponding debt the government has to go into in order to pay that check is more than $100 for each taxpayer.
Thirdly, this type of thing is not a precedent the government should set.
Fourthly, possible inflationary effects that I won't elaborate on because I'm not smart enough to figure out the details. Maybe Warren can help me out here.
Anyway, I was thinking about what would happen if this $100 rebate idea actually happened. I think it's just crazy enough that it might get passed. Stranger things have happened. So I was thinking, what would be the funniest/most ironic way for me to spend that $100, in a sort of futile but clever protest. What I have come up with so far are:
- Buy a U.S. Treasury Bond (I'm pretty proud of this idea, actually. It's really the driving force behind this post.)
- Buy stock in Exxon-Mobil
I'm hoping some of you can come up with some good ones too.


Nick said...

I would never (ever) suggest someone actually do this, but if its a republican proposal, then send your checks to or the DNC. I'm sure the republican sponsors would feel a little stoopid.

JonnyF said...

We are in Colorado visiting Katie's family. We were talking to Katie's Grandfather, whom we inadvertantly got started on a rant about the government. He mentioned this very $100 rebate proposal, then proceeded to explain to us how stupid it was with precisely my first two reasons above. I fit right in with my in-laws, I guess.
I have come up with something else to do with that $100, especially if many people did it also: buy $100 worth of whoopee cushions.

erin said...

I have tried to post a comment on this point several times now, and each time I end up with a long and breathless harangue on the workings of our government. I'm going to try to keep my emotions under control and just add an "amen" to what Jon's said. We pay taxes so the government can pay for areas that we don't pay for as private citizens. Overall, our taxes aren't that bad. What I think is ridiculous is to view the government as some kind of bank or good investment for monetary returns. I might take that back sometime, but for now that's what I think.

And I can't help it. I also think that if there's $100 for every person lying around, why the huge cuts in the budget this year to research and basic care health programs? Even as I say that, I'm a little torn--the huge national debt does make me nervous, but to cut all sorts of important programs (which may or may not be constitutionally based (I don't know if they are and if they're not, I'll bite my tounge)) and then to skip around, flippantly tossing out hundred-dollar bills to cover rising gas prices just kind of makes me steam.

And speaking of steam, this senate bill 1955 is really worrying me. As I understand it, it is designed to provide cheaper insurance to more people, a great benefit (hee-hee, no pun intended) to smaller companies so they can provide at least some kind of coverage to their employees. It sounded great to me, especially since I have a really hard time getting insurance for myself (you can say accident-prone...I prefer adventurous). But this insurance only works for you when you're healthy and doesn't even try to keep you healthy. It doesn't cover any of the important cancer screenings like mammographies or colonoscopies (unpleasant but important) or screenings for other diseases. I don't think that would be such a problem as an option, but what it does is nullify the mandates in I think 49 states that have laboriously (if that's a word) passed laws requiring insurance companies to cover these procedures. It sets us back about 15 years in terms of health coverage! Ahhhh!!

(Dr. Jekel calmly puts Mr. Hyde back in his cage and locks the door.)

But if I DID get a $100 rebate in the mail, I think I'd buy some sweetgrass seed and learn how to make baskets.

Or maybe I'd get one roll of stamps, three boxes of envelopes, and a pad of paper and write a whole lot of letters expressing my oh-so-impassioned indignation.

JonnyF said...

It's nice to know the things I like to rant about are the same things other people like to rant about. Thanks for your thought Erin. This is the sort of thing that makes me want to go into politics. Then I remind myself about my secret plan to make a lot of money, retire early, and then go into politics. That way I don't have to bother with raising campaign money and I can be rude to other rich people because I don't need their money. I guess it's not a secret anymore. Doh!

erin said...

Jon, you don't even need money to campaign anymore. I recently read Hillary vs. Condi (which was very interesting if quite biased (not to say I'm not biased as well)) and the author whose name I have forgotten convinced me that internet campaigns are the way to really get a people's person back in the running.

And really, everyone, better call your senators about s1955. I think it's no good. If you think it is good, please let me know why. I hate it when I feel like I'm only seeing one side of things...sort of like I'm running around with no pants and telling everyone why they should turn up the thermostat.

Jenny said...

Erin, your flair for dramatic imagery continues to be one of the highlights of my days.

If the $100 came my way, I'd probably invest in some really good dark chocolate (but that could just be the diet talking). And having recently studied the tax rates in several Scandinavian countries, I have to agree with Erin that our taxes aren't really that bad. But I have yet to be convinced that the government's spending patterns match up to the ideal scenario. And bringing health care into the picture just gets really messy. Due to our current social status (student/self-employed = no benefits) we've had to get our own insurance, and I can relate to Erin's comments--i.e., it is hard to get (and we're relatively healthy--good thing my gall bladder waited until after our coverage was in force to decide it was tired of living in my stomach, or else there's no way I could have gotten coverage. Our pediatrician was worried they'd reject Lucy for having a common birthmark [!]) and coverage that only works when you're healthy isn't worth the trouble (might as well just pay the doctor for regular checkups). I think the thing I dislike the most about the whole tax situation (and the whole health-care situation as well) is that I pretty much feel like there's no way we'll ever win. We're honest, we try to stay out of debt, and we take care of ourselves--I expect others to do the same, and I don't see how giving me a $100 rebate is ethically viable given our nation's fiscal "responsibility." Ok, end rant-like random comments.

Jon, your secret plan is Nick's secret plan too.