So after a great deal of debate and name calling and posturing, it appears that the Senate is finally going to pass their version of the economic stimulus bill
, which means a great deal of money is going to start pouring into socialist bullshit like children's hospitals in the near future. As the only Cracked writer who knows what it feels like rubbing two twenty-dollar bills together, I've been designated as the resident financial expert
of the site. Consequently, I thought I'd walk you through some of the intricacies of this stimulus brou-ha-ha, and also see how many times I can unnecessarily cram penis jokes into economic discourse.
Penis Joke #1: Cram? Stimulus? Package? You know what I'm talking about, right ladies? You don't? Gents?
The first thing I should probably do is point out a common misunderstanding that people who don't read economics blogs all day have: The stimulus is completely different from the bailout.
The bank bailouts were meant to pour money into banks that lost everything they had in some sort of madcap Three Stooges
style mishap. A bailout of the banks has happened already - in fact, it went so swimmingly well that there'll probably be another one in the not too distant future. Contrast this with an economic stimulus package, which is the government effectively getting out their checkbook and buying shit for everybody (Xboxes if we're lucky). Critically, the stimulus package hasn't happened yet, as you can probably tell by your lack of Xboxes.
Another way to tell the difference between the two is that everyone hates the bailout, because it involves giving money to those Wall Street banker types - a job description that is now customarily said with the same intonation as multiple rapist. As I pointed out a few months ago,
there are good reasons for supporting a bailout, notably to prevent banks from failing, and thus throwing us into an economic stone age, where we'll all have dinosaur-related employment and push cars around with our fucking feet. But the bailout remains wildly unpopular because it effectively rewards a bunch of assholes who already make too much money, whine about making too much money and managed to drive the entirety of capitalism off a cliff. Any bailout that doesn't involve bankers being pelted with vegetables is going to be a really tough sell.
Penis Joke #2: Q: How do you hurt a banker? A: Shoot him in the penis.
The stimulus package, on the other hand, should be quite popular, in that it will probably end up creating a few million jobs, and create a whole bunch of useful infrastructures like bridges and prostitution districts. The obvious downside to the stimulus package is its size (800 billion dollars or so) and the fact that there's no actual way of paying for it, other than sending a big I.O.U. to the future, with a note saying "Thanks dude. I'm totally good for it." Of course when the alternative is 25 percent unemployment and bowling with rocks, a bit of debt doesn't look so bad.
But despite its potential for popularity, the stimulus package has had a rough ride as of late, it being subject to a lot of debate in the Senate and all the assorted shrill name-calling that goes on with that. Most of the debate has fallen along the usual party lines, with the Republicans lobbying for more tax cuts in the package, and the Democrats pushing for publicly funded gay marijuana abortion centers, presumably.
One thing you've probably read is how much of the stimulus package will focus on 'shovel ready' projects, those being projects that can get started more or less immediately. The main reason these are given such priority is so the stimulus has an immediate effect. Building a bridge without at least a rough sketch of some sort is apparently considered dangerous by those cry-baby civil engineering types, and if it takes three years to get all your plans and permits in order, your bridge construction will be stimulating the economy three years from now, when things have already hopefully recovered. The downside to shovel ready projects is simple: If a project is just sitting around with plans but no funding, chances are it isn't that useful. If your town's got plans in place to build a Museum of Sexual Deviancy, then your mayor is probably right now trying to get some stimulus money. A fact which chafes some people - prudes, I guess.