You can spend, or the government will do it for you.
(a large waiting room in a giant federal building)
Desk Clerk: Ticket 363. Is ticket 363 here?
Joe: I have number 363.
Desk Clerk: (without looking up) Go to office 26, through the gate, turn right, left down the corridor, on the right.
(Joe finds his way. The water fountain doesn't work.)
Official: (behind desk, seated, remains seated) Please close the door and have a seat.
Joe: (sits down)
Official: Do you know why you are here?
Joe: Something about GDP?
Official: As you can see from the sign on my desk, I am a case officer for the new Department of GDP Oversight and Improvement. The government, your government, measures it's success through GDP. Higher GDP is better. We want to talk to you about how you can do your part to increase GDP. Your government is absolutely committed to increasing GDP. It would be unpatriotic not to. Do you agree?
Joe: Uh, sure. I'm patriotic. May I ask, what is GDP?
Official: GDP is Gross Domestic Product. That is the market value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. It is the total of all the things that society can eat, drink, and work with. You can also think of it as the total income of the U.S. The government wants everyone to have more income.
Joe: I support that.
Official: Good. (flips through manila folder) Now, I see that you don't go to restaurants enough. Why is that?
Joe: My wife is a great cook. We eat at home most of the time. I even like cooking with her sometimes, and the kids help too.
Official: Yes, that comes up a lot. People are denying themselves the pleasures of fine dining. You can see how this decreases employment and GDP. From now on, you will dine out at least twice per week, with the kids please.
Joe: That is going to cost me a lot of money! I really don't see how ...
Official: (writes a note into the file) We all have to do our part to employ others, and restaurants are a huge employer of the less educated. You earn a good income, you should spend more. It is the patriotic thing to do.
Joe: But, I won't be able to save as much for my kid's college and my retirement.
Official: I know it seems that way, but a better economy in the future will pay you back. I'm no economist, but our department has done the analysis, I can assure you. You see, savings are a selfish, lazy way to use money. You should understand that many people don't have any savings. What good are your savings if the economy suffers?
Joe: I am depending on my savings to ...
Official: No need to answer, that is what we in the department call a rhetorical question.
Joe: I thought my savings support businesses and home ownership.
Official: I don't mean this as an insult, but you are very ignorant about economics. The department has a giant computer to figure out the effects of spending, savings, and employment. And, we will have that figured out when we have entered all of the details, approximately 5 billion data points per month. This is in progress.
In the meantime, we have an estimate under the "one transaction" rule. We track things for one transaction. When you get your salary, that is GDP. When you pay a restaurant, that is GDP. When you put your money in the bank or invest in stock, we lose track. It's an estimate.
Official: Now, under our Direct Employment program, we are assigning you a gardener and a family care worker. You will find them a wonderful help, freeing up a lot of your time for relaxation. You will be responsible for paying them. I see that you have plenty of income if you don't save anything. Savings are bad for the economy, so you won't miss them.
Joe: (restraining himself) That is not possible! I don't need a gardener or a home worker. I need to save for the future. I don't need all that leisure and don't want to pay for it.
Official: (writes a note into the file) I don't really understand. I myself love leisure. I have many plans for my pension. But, if you feel you have extra time, the department can arrange more work for you.
Under our Neighborhood Exchange program, you will mow one of your neighbor's lawns in Summer, and shovel his driveway and sidewalk in Winter. Another of your neighbors will do the same for you. You will all pay each other at the GFR (Government Fair Rate). This will produce a lot of measurable GDP that was hidden in the old way of doing things, and you won't have so much non-GDP leisure. This also generates valuable tax payments on the extra income.
Joe: (a bit upset) What if I don't cooperate?
Official: (writes a long note into the file) There is no need to be upset. I should have emphasized that this is a voluntary program, for now. You don't have to cooperate, but there may be unfortunate consequences for you and the economy if you don't. You certainly have the time until your next appointment to think about it. Find out what other non-cooperators have experienced. I certainly would not want to question your patriotism at this time.
Joe: (sits quietly)
Official: In any event, we must proceed with our task of raising GDP, so we have arranged to borrow money against your future tax payments, and your children can do their part too when they are older. Taxes will probably increase a bit. This costs more than the voluntary program we have talked about, but we are happy to add on the interest and processing costs. We'll tell you how to figure the increased taxes and pay them. There is no need to pay anything now.
Joe: What if I can't pay the increased tax?
Official: We will take that into account. First, we will get the taxes from the people with more money and savings than you have. We will only increase your taxes if we can't get the money from them. They are currently saving a lot of money that is bad for the economy, so there is a lot of money available for our programs.
In a short time, we will eliminate all of that lazy and selfish saving, and turn it into much increased employment for the good of us all. GDP will rise substantially, which is the important thing.
Joe: (doesn't know what to say)
Official: (closes folder, writes on a form, hands form to Joe) Here. Take this to the Appointments Manager at the front desk, and he or she will set up your next appointment. I really hope you can change your attitude and support this program. Without total and enthusiastic support, we are afraid that we won't meet our goals, and we would hate to blame you for that.
Leave the door open on your way out.
Why Spending Stimulus Plans Fail
The money isn't free. It is taken from the people who plan and invest in productive organizations. This destroys jobs and lowers income.
A Tested Stimulus Plan
The economic crisis is the result of a giant six year stimulus provided by housing loans.
Stimulus Does Not Cure a Recession
Jobs change when people change what they want to buy or can afford.
Obama Challenges Us
Jamie at TheLipstickRepublican explains why the government should not be planning our lives.