Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If Only Helicopter Ben Really Were

Ben Bernanke - dubbed Helicopter Ben by some commentators for his now-famous advocacy of Milton Friedman's "helicopter drops" of money into the economy - has failed to live up to his promise. Not that I wished he had, but what Bernanke, Congress and the Presidents have done is much worse than dropping cash from helicopters to supposedly stimulate the economy.

The New York Times puts the total bailout spending at about $9,000,000,000,000 (nine trillion). If there are 100 million households in the United States, as a back-of-the-envelope estimate, that is $90,000 per household.

I propose, in the place of these obscene bailouts of Wall Street cronies, that the government have held a one-off Stimulus Lottery. This is no worse than Lord Keynes' proposal that the government bury jars of cash. If the goal really is to stimulate the economy from the "demand-side" as the economically illiterate like to say, then surely this would do it. We could hold a lottery with 100 million paying tickets varying in value from, say, $10,000 to $1,000,000 with an average value of $90,000. Or, we could have 9 million tickets with a value of $1,000,000. Or pick any combination that would dice up the $9 trillion in some random fashion. The Stimulus Lottery could be a big national event - maybe even bigger than Obama's first Inaugural, though that is difficult to imagine - and the checks for paying tickets would be mailed out by the Treasury or the Federal Reserve or whoever it is in the government-corporate complex that arrogates to themselves the authority to wish $9 trillion into existence these days. The money received from Americans eagerly buying the tickets in hopes of winning their shot at the American Dream could be used to pay for the administrative overhead of the Stimulus Lottery Commission and the Stimulus Lottery Board of Review and Appeals and the SEC's special Stimulus Lottery Fraud Investigative Unit, and the myriad other bureaucratic creations that would spring into existence.

Of course, they did give us a paltry $600 "stimulus check" last summer. This looks more like a consolation prize given the $90,000 per household in new taxes, inflation and debt (promised future taxes) with which we have been saddled by these damned bailouts. Even by their own reasoning, Ben Bernanke, Congress, Bush and Obama are clearly not interested in helping the little guy through "bottom-up stimulus of the economy." These TARP funds and other bailout measures are being created in legislation so thick even the professionals in DC don't really know what's inside. If they're going to spend this much money and it really is to stimulate the economy from the bottom up, then let them do it in a way that everyone knows that this is what is actually occurring. Let's have a Stimulus Lottery.

Of course, if Americans did not have enough confidence in the US government and Federal Reserve to entrust them to dole out $9 trillion dollars worth of their own property, the means by which the government can do this - taxation, public "debt" and inflation courtesy of the Federal Reserve - would not exist in the first place. The whole government-banking-corporate-military complex has become a cosmic confidence scheme. While it is encouraging that the Ron Paul movement and the End the Fed movement are gaining momentum, it is still disheartening to see just how much faith in government there is. At least God has supernatural powers with which to deliver on His promises of salvation and eternal life. But the government is made up of nothing but mortal men who have but 24 hours in their day just like you and I. How so much confidence can be vested in a system so obviously deficient I will never understand. I used to be one of the believers but the wool has been pulled from my eyes and I see the government for what it truly is. The only question is how I could have been so deceived for so long. I hope that many more of my fellow Americans begin to wake up and see the State for the criminal complex that it is.