Money, money and all for the taking

Published 8:49 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

The new trend in government solutions seems to be offering money back to people instead of taking it away.

It’s a brilliant plan, so I’m told, and it’s a great way to get our country back on its feet and get the money flowing the way it should be.

I find it funny that the man who tried to convince me of all this had just handed me a glass of Kool-Aid.

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It wasn’t enough that people who filed taxes last year got a little something-something back in the mail. Nope, legislators are thinking of more creative ways to give us, the American people, more expendable money.

This week U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks introduced a bill that would allow new car buyers to deduct up to $7,500 on their federal income taxes.

That’s a nice chunk of change the government is handing out for a new set of wheels.

But Rogers ain’t no fool, oh no.

That tax deduction would only be good for the first three months after the proposal became law. The amount would drop to $5,000 in the second three-month period and then to $2,500 for the last three months.

It kind of sounds like the mail-in rebate that so many companies offer. First off, they know consumers will procrastinate. We’ll sit the box for our new, shiny toy on the refrigerator or in the closet beside things too hideous and to dusty to see daylight.

After four months or so, we’ll realize, “Hey, I should go ahead and mail in the coupon on this box so this $200 purchase will only end up costing me $150.” It’s a shame the coupon had a 90-day shelf life.

Either that, or there will be a list of instructions to redeem the rebate as long as Mike Tyson’s rap sheet. By the time we read about all the work involved, we’ve pretty much convinced ourselves we can eat that extra $50 and take it out of our budget somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an opponent of free money. I’m more what you would call a hesitant recipient.

Has anyone stopped and asked why the government is willing to give out all this dough in the first place?

It’s simple really: the government knows it can copy the exact same marketing strategy as big capitalistic companies.

The government knows we’re not a society that saves money. Everything is immediate. Everything is for show. The only thing we’re really good at accumulating is girth around our midsection.

At this point in the history of mankind, it’s pretty much pointless to say things like “future” or “patience” or “interest rate” and be taken seriously.

We spend. And then we overspend. And then we borrow to make up for our fiscal gluttony. And then we try to wiggle out of our responsibility.

While companies are waiting on their money, a backlog of national debt is piling up, and guys in suits that cost more than my first car are scratching their heads and trying to figure out what to do.

So we get stimulus checks, and “same as cash” rebates.

What’s that, you ask? If the money’s not there, where does it come from?

What does it matter to you? The point is we trust government and big companies now. They are our new best buddies.

The $50 or $600 of theirs will turn into $100 or $1,000 or our own dime the next time around. We have that kind of cash lying around, and if we don’t have it, it’s cool. When we get in trouble, someone will always be there to bail us out.

Big companies and the government – friends to you and me.