If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. - George Bernard Shaw
You know the economy really sucks, and has been in the doldrums for a good little while now. And, no matter what anybody has said or done, it is not exactly all better yet, now is it? All the bail outs have come and gone, and I guess some of them may have helped, but I'm not sure who was helped, are you? I know that the reports are that Ford and GM are both doing better now, but I really don't know that. I know that there seem to be fewer banks, fewer big companies in general, fewer mom & pop establishments, and ever bigger conglomerates (as in, monopolies) than there used to be. I can't see that as a good sign, though, for the life of me. For there to be bigger companies with less competition does not fit my idea of good. Not for the consumer, anyway.
We moved here to Costa Rica because we became convinced that we could not afford to live in Texas on our little pensions. That has turned out to be a questionable decision, since we hit major inflation here, and the first year here, we saw the dollar lose a serious amount of value against the local currency. You see, the dollar was running as high as ¢590 (Colones) to the dollar just a couple of months after our arrival here last year, and now is averaging less than ¢500. That means that just for our mortgage payment alone we are paying $170 a month more than we were a year and a half ago. Add to that what we pay for everything else (gasoline somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.50 per gallon), and, you might get an idea of what we are facing.
Something else that is costly, and I don't know why, is tires for the car. I put a set of new tires on our 2005 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 in February of 2010. I already had to replace two of them late last year, when one had a blow out. The two that are left from that full set already show serious wear. We cannot have put that many miles on the tires, because nothing is really that far away from us! I have no choice but to conclude that this is a combination of poor quality tires (for way too much money) and really bad roads.
So, back to the economy: what is it going to take to fix it? I would certainly hope not another war. Not any kind of increase in foreign aid, surely. Not more expenditures for pork barrel programs, and stupid government programs. No more bailouts, please. No more subsidies for big oil, big energy, big coal, or any other big anything (all of which pretty much suggest to my mind nothing more than friends of the GOP, and/or huge lobbies).
And this brings us to one logical fix, suggested by a reader of the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, just over a year ago, in response to a request by the newspaper for ideas:
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance with no taxes due on it, for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They MUST buy a new AMERICAN Car. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.
It can't get any easier than that!!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of Congress pay their taxes.
There was a bit more to the idea, but that is the gist of it, and I – for one – think it would be a good place to start. I would, of course, like to see them extend this offer to some of us who were forced into early retirement through loss of our jobs, as far back as, say, 2008. Speaking only for myself, I'd say it was not at all pleasant to lose not only my job, but our home, and two cars, simply because we could not keep up with the payments on my very small (at that time) pension. And, I would be delighted to promise to go out and buy a house and a car. So, how about it? Any lobbyists out there interested in taking on a good cause for a change? How about just a PAC? Anybody?