Move Your Money

So, you may have heard of the new video and movement, Move Your Money, encouraging the patrons of big banks to move their accounts to small community banks. The video is quite compelling, featuring clips from It’s a Wonderful Life, along with damning clips of modern bank malfeasance. The video is worth viewing, even if the argument doesn’t sway you.

The premise is simple: hit them where it counts, in the pocketbook. It’s a grassroots attempt to undermine the “Too Big To Fail” institutions who continue to be found, time and time again to be complicit in or responsible for economic travesties, big and small.

Senator Bernie Sanders has his own idea: Break ‘Em Up.

Of course, small town banks can engage in their own shenanigans. They also may not have the capacity or breadth of services for all customers. But we should be good consumers and move our money where it serves us best.

If I ever have any money, I want some interest from that money, and it sure would be nice if some of the money was in turn invested in my community. I certainly don’t want a slice of my hard earned money to pay for six-figure financial services lobbyists who are tightening the screws on ethically challenged Members of Congress.

I think I just might move my money.

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Money Makes Money Better Than Work

Luke Laurie- Teacher Blog    https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com

Money Makes Money Better Than Work

I’ve always been a believer in hard work. Indeed, for most of my life I’ve worked hard, probably too hard sometimes, at my job, my hobbies, and my projects. Weekends, evenings, and vacations have all been sacrificed for my commitment to my career.

For the most part, I’ve been rewarded for my efforts. But I recently came to a conclusion that made me question almost everything I do, when I suddenly realized the cards are stacked against me. My bootstraps are tearing.

I realized- Money makes money better than work.

I’ve been going about this all wrong. My efforts at work barely matter in our economic structure, unless I do something differently, my family will be confined to our caste for my entire life.

No matter how much I devote myself to my work and extra projects, I will never be as well off as someone who started out rich, even if that person never worked a day in their life. In this blog entry, I’ll explore some of the financial differences between the rich and the working, and show a principal flaw in “trickle down” economics. This brief analysis will no doubt be simplified, but be no less true than a more complex analysis.

Work makes money, but not very well

Over the course of my career, I will make an estimated 2.5 million dollars total.

I’ve been a teacher for 12 years. For my first few years, I was paid at poverty level, my next decade at lower middle class, and for the rest of my career, I’ll be paid a middle class salary. If I had not quickly achieved my master’s degree, the poverty level wages would have continued for most of a decade. Most teachers don’t stay in the field that long. When my home is paid off, I should be comfortable, barring a medical catastrophe. I will never be rich. I will be able to retire if the system remains solvent.

How does my income and lifestyle compare to someone, who, instead of working, begins the game with the same amount I will make over the course of my life?

Let’s image that someone is fortunate enough to begin their adult life with 2.5 million dollars. They didn’t earn it. They just got it. Perhaps there was some “death tax” on it, perhaps not, but there are very easy ways around estate taxes, and when you’re rich, its easy to pay someone to figure them out.

In this comparison, I’ll refer to the person with income like mine as the worker, and person who begins with 2.5 million as the heir.

Income

Worker: Early in the worker’s career, she survives on about 20k annually. She drives a used car, rents an apartment, and bargain shops. Her income is entirely devoted to basic living expenses. Food, housing, medical expenses, and transportation. She likely is accruing debt during this time in her life, with the hope that future earnings will allow her to pay this debt off. She has no disposable income.

Heir: Without any work at all, and without any creative investing whatsoever, the heir can expect to make a minimum of 100,000 dollars on simple interest annually. Naturally, the heir would be tempted to make investments with higher potential return, but would be equally likely overspend. By spending a million dollars upfront on cars, real estate and other luxury items, we can chop the Heir’s savings down to only 1.5 million. With very safe investments, the Heir can still look at making an easy 7% return, which puts him back to generating $100,000 annually without work, with a million in swag. He eats well, he drinks well, his expenses are not confined to necessities. He has tens of thousands of dollars in disposable income.

Property

Worker: If she’s fortunate and frugal, within a decade, she’ll be able to scrape together a down payment and buy a modest home. She will pay for this home for the next 30 years, and by the time she’s done paying for it, because of compound interest, she will have paid for the home two and a half times. She’ll pay nearly half a million dollars for a home that’s worth $200,000.

Heir: The fortunate son doesn’t need to worry about a loan and overpaying for real estate. He can pay cash for a home worth $500,000. He actually gets what he pays for. If he decides that he wants income properties, he can pay cash for property that will guarantee income. In most markets, he could leverage his cash, putting only half down for the property, borrow the balance, and STILL be guaranteed income. As a landlord, he can write off any improvements, repairs, or upgrades to these properties, unlike the Worker who’s stck with the bill for every broken thingamajig. His 500,000 dollars cash could easily turn into a million dollars in real estate, with the capacity for paying for itself. The Heir does not have a mansion in this scenario, but makes real estate decisions that will not necessitate having to work for a living.

Savings

Worker: Without significant sacrifice, amassing any sizable savings will not be possible in the worker’s first decade of her career. If she has children and a family to support, this will become increasingly difficult. Not until midway through her career will she start to get ahead. More likely than savings, the Worker will be amassing debt. The degree of this debt will affect her ability in the future to accrue savings.

Heir: The Heir starts with income generating savings. By keeping some of this income, the Heir has an income generating perpetual motion machine. Let’s say, for example, the Heir begins with the 1.5 million in savings as described above, and he makes 7% interest on the money from investments. He spends half of the interest income, and returns half to the pot. We’ll say he puts a paltry 3% interest back in to the savings. He’s blowing 60,000 dollars a year in disposable income. Result: In 10 years, the 1.5 million in savings is now 2 million. He does nothing, and his net worth grows.

Work

Worker: Of course, the worker works. She spends most of her days at work. She schedules appointments outside of her work day. She misses some important events because of her professional obligations. She works when she’s sick from time to time because of her limited leave days. She usually has weekends and evenings to herself. After all, she’s a college educated professional and deserves some leisure time.

Heir: The Heir doesn’t need to work. The interest his money makes provides him with more consumable income than the Worker could ever hope to have. Perhaps he’d be tempted to spend even more of that money, because he needs to do something with his time. He has 365 leave days each year. He stays home when he’s sick, and can devote his time to thinking about ways to have his money make even more money.

Investment

Worker: By and large, the worker will have few, if any investments. She might consider her home an investment, and in a good housing market, it might be. More likely, others will invest in her, requiring her to pay them interest. They’ll loan her money for cars, for real estate, for home improvements, and for month to month expenses. They’ll invest in her vacations and earn 10% or more on credit card interest. She’ll feel lucky about all the great things she’s gotten to have and do with the borrowed money, but all the while, she’ll be paying extra for almost everything.

Heir: The Heir’s money makes money. He doesn’t borrow, unless it’s for short term leveraging, or unless it’s like the real estate scenario above, where he can increase the long term earnings on his investments by accruing more appreciation by having a greater number of assets. He may own stocks, bonds, real estate, or other securities. Interest is good for the heir. He is paid interest. Rent is good for the Heir. He is paid rent. He’ll scrape a little off the top to pay a financial advisor who will constantly look for the best ways for his money to make money.

Taxes

Worker: Many might assume that this category is where the tables would be turned, where the worker, due to his deductions and so forth would have a distinct advantage over the Heir. They would be wrong.
The worker pays income tax, sales tax, property tax, and payroll taxes. Approximately 15-20% of her income will go to income tax and payroll taxes, about 5% will go to property tax, but only about 1-2% would go to sales tax. During her career, she will have about $600,000 of her income go to taxes. That’s more than she paid for her home. The taxes the worker pays directly reduce the worker’s quality of life, ability to save, and financial security. But she dutifully pays them out of respect for her country.

Heir: The Heir pays income taxes on the interest income on his investments, and capital gains taxes on the sale of investments. He, of course, will pay significant sales taxes on all of his spending. With the 100,000 annual income described above, he could expect to pay 30,000-40,000 in taxes, considering his properties, transactions, and investments. These taxes aren’t preventing him from getting ahead, they just slow down his disposable income a bit. His investments, holdings, and net worth continue to grow regardless. The high tax rates imposed on the wealthy only slow the rate of the growth of their wealth, they don’t make them poorer, as some may try to make you believe. Income tax on investments and capital gains slice into his profit, not his wealth.

But many wealthy Americans don’t feel obligated to even pay the taxes they are legally obligated to pay. After pressure from the US, Swiss Banks recently agreed to turn over the names of American account holders who were using Swiss accounts to avoid taxes. They all thought they were in a James Bond film. The IRS, in an effort to increase Federal revenues, thought it would be a good idea to pardon some of these felons. They offered an amnesty program in which millionaire crooks would avoid prosecution in exchange for PAYING THEIR TAXES. How many rich American crooks came forward when they knew the game was up? 15,000. Billions in taxes. Thousands of unethical wealthy people. Read this article for more on the amnesty for rich tax cheaters.

Conclusion

The Worker, if she’s fortunate will be able to live a modest, stable life, and be able to retire with some degree of security. The Heir will watch his holdings balloon over time, and could easily have many times the amount he started within a couple of decades. The cards are clearly stacked in the Heir’s favor. The Heir has no grounds to complain about tax policy, estate taxes, etc. His gravy train is firmly ensconced in the tax codes and our economic structure. The Worker, in this case, a public school teacher, must be content in knowing that her life of work is doing good, that the Heir’s tax deductible donations will never do. The rich will get richer, and the workers will keep on working.

Or, one can get cynical, realizing that working is futile, and find a way to get a hunk of cash and sit on it. It’s clearly the American way.

A Tax Cut for Every Problem

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(This post is a repost from before the election, but it warrants repeating due to the current debate about spending versus tax cuts for economic stimulus.)

John McCain used to be more honest about tax policy. He voted against the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. He knew at the time, as most people would agree, you can’t reduce taxes on those most able to pay while dramatically increasing federal spending on a war, during a time in which real incomes of the non-rich (almost all) Americans) are falling. He knew that trickle-down economics was no more valid than any other plumbing analogy is to economics (the feces-rolls-downhill theory of capital gains tax, and the don’t flush a tampoon (Zappa) theory of finance regulation come to mind.)

I respect the conservative aims of efficiency in Federal government. No one wants a wasteful bureaucracy, or a disfunctional policy apparatus that encourages favoritism over rationalism. I also respect the tax ideal that people should not be overburdened by taxation, and that taxation should not discourage ambition or innovation. But when these ambitions are placed above national security, economic security, and the PROGRESS of our nation, I have to object.

There is a degree of intellectual laziness, or, at times, outright intellectual dishonesty, when tax cuts are proposed as the blanket solution to all problems; social, economic, or otherwise (other than military or law enforcement).

Let’s carry this philosophy to its logical conclusion: (Note, for those who don’t know me, this is serious sarcasm)

Education: Forget class size, funding shortages, funding inequities, lack of competitive salaries, lack of counselors, flawed evaluation systems, and poor working conditions in inner city schools. The problem with education is the tax burden on teachers. If we lower their taxes, say, with a $500 tax credit for the $2000 materials they buy out of pocket, our education woes will be solved. (Believe it or not, there are dozens of bills in congress proposed by Republicans that promise so much.)

Energy and Climate Change: The reason why we’re so dependent on foreign oil is because of taxes on oil companies. These companies, which have done everything they can to fight the emergence of alternative domestic energy sources could really use a tax cut. If only their tax burden was lower, they would shift massive dollars from R&D and oil exploration to building a new clean, green domestic energy supply, based on wind, solar, and geothermal energy! Less taxes and no global warming!

Manufacturing: Forget that American manufacturers abandoned their commitment to innovation in products and replaced it with innovation in finance, let’s give American based corporations a tax cut (those few that actually haven’t offshored their base of operations due to loopholes, and pay no taxes already). After all, if GM wasn’t paying so much in corporate taxes, they might have put some money into R&D to make cars that could actually compete in a market in which values fuel efficient vehicles. Ok, so they did pour billions of dollars into trying to change the market through advertising, legal action, and lobbying to ensure that their environmental destruction machines could remain on the market long enough to drive them into bankruptcy. But heck, let’s cut their taxes anyway.

Housing and Jobs: Let’s cut capital gains tax. That way, when your house forecloses, you won’t have to pay, umm. wait. uh. OK, but rich people will benefit from a capital gains tax cut. Let’s also cut income tax on the wealthy, so they don’t have to foreclose on their dozens of investment properties that they’re renting to you. They might need a haircut or a shoeshine, so you’re in luck, you’ll get a trickle down job. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get a job unplugging their clogged plumbing (who flushed that?).

We’ll also benefit from the hope that we’ll gain, that someday, we just might be rich enough to not have to pay our fair share anymore!

My point is, instead of studying the real causes and potential solutions to complex issues, we find too often that conservatives are willing to let the markets solve problems, while simultaneously crafting market conditions that are beneficial for corporate profits, but not, necessarily the greater good.

Let’s Run Schools Like Businesses

 

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Imagine, for a moment, if we could go back to 2000, during the lead-up to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, when many conservative lawmakers, intellectuals, and others who have no ‘business’ meddling in public education, were calling for reforms to model America’s education system after private industry. No Child Left Behind, did, in fact, include some of this business-like mentality with its emphasis on ‘products’, ‘quantifiable results’, and ‘accountability’, as well as a degree of privatization. But it could have been worse.

Senate Approves Massive Bailout for Education
Fake News 10-7-08
by Luke Laurie

The U.S. Senate today approved a $700 billion bailout of America’s education system, following seven years of corruption, mismanagement, and lack of regulation of the nation’s principle means of transmitting culture. Congressional investigators have attributed the collapse to the wholesale privatization of public schools and education services, and the increased use of a business model for school management.

Teachers Have Lost Their Voice
While teachers and liberal lawmakers have, for years, called for a return to public education, the powerful Education Reform Lobby has held a tight grip on Congressional appropriators and thwarted any intrusion by government regulators. Secretary of Education Bill Gates blamed the fallout on the handful of schools who refused to purchase Microsoft software, and suggested that schools sticking with Apple or Linux were the cause of the recent collapse. SInce the “Silence the Special Interests Act of 2002,” teachers’ unions and other advocacy groups have been unable to influence public policy. This measure limited lobbying access by establishing a rigid ‘pay to play’ principle that has limited congressional access to only the largest private conglomerations. In addition, the number of unionized teachers has greatly dwindled due to union-busting measures at the local, state and federal level.

Reform for Profit
In the early years of the “Bottom-Line for Schools Act of 2001”, the so called BS Act, everyone was a genius. Schools were encouraged to pursue a growth model akin to the tech startups of the 1990’s. Using leveraged capital provided by school vouchers, private companies created schools and networks of schools with lofty names that promised impossible services for little or no cost, and watched their stock prices skyrocket on speculation. These schools took many forms, and often resembled private religious schools, alternative charter schools, and academies of various kinds. They often touted emphasis in a particular industry or technical field, or sought to reinforce certain ideological or religious perspectives. The movement saw the creation of the Advanced Circuitry Kinder Lab, The Huffington School of Right is Wrong, Young Earth Youth Academy, and the A is A Ayn Rand School of Engineering and Architecture.

A Shining School on a Hill
Capitalized by inflated stock prices, fueled by speculation and day-traders, these new schools saw incredible growth, and were praised for success. States received massive bonuses and an influx of cash from the federal government for large-scale educational overhauls that were outsourced, often to fly-by-night contractors and textbook publishers, who took over all aspects of education, including everything from developing standardized tests to operating school buses. Glassy skyscrapers popped up in suburbs across America, the “District Offices” of the new education economy. Even Halliburton, a long-time military and energy services contractor, stepped in with their new Freedom Schools division. It was not unheard of to find the new school CEO’s showing up at D.C. cocktail parties.

A Break with Tradition
Perhaps the most damaging aspects of the movement were the wholesale abandonment of public facilities, practices, and personnel. In 2002, James D. Oldenfeller, Assistant Secretary of Education said, “States just don’t have the capacity to run schools the way that private industry does.” Oldenfeller left the administration that same year to oversee Halliburton’s Freedom Schools division. State and local governments relieved themselves of debt and balanced their budgets by selling school infrastructure to private contractors at discounted prices, receiving incentives from the Fed to do so. Some districts literally auctioned off desks, chairs, and even entire schools on Ebay.

Change for Change’s Sake
New startup schools were so heavily pressured to be different, that many school leaders professed that no long-standing educational practice could be continued. Schools abandoned antiquated methods of teaching reading, spelling, mathematics, history, and science. They scoffed at traditions like recess, summer vacation, and tenure for teachers. They embraced controversial new approaches like the “copy from Wikipedia” essay strategy, the “Yes you can use a calculator” computation method, and “Metaphysical Education- developing the mind and body without leaving your seat.”

“We need results, and we need them now,” Said President Bush in his State of the Union Address of 2002. “Like CEO’s on Wallstreet, schools need to be accountable. America can’t wait around for all this touchy-feely stuff to soak in. We need math and history, and math history. If our teachers can’t show results, then they’re not with us. If they’re not with us, they’re against us. If they’re against us, they’re with them. Who are them anyway?”

Goodbye Mr. Chips
The mass exodus of public school teachers, both forced and voluntary, is widely seen the most harmful result of the reform. Once considered the ‘core’ of education, the role of teacher was relegated to that of support personnel, number crunchers, script readers, and assembly workers on the educational factory floor. Disgusted, underpaid, and just plain fired for being too smarty-pants, career teachers were cast aside in favor of short-term ‘corps’-style teachers, who spent a few years in classrooms to erase college debts from overpriced universities.

Monetary rewards and penalties were applied to schools and teachers based on standardized test scores in Mathematics and Language Arts. Teacher pay was integrally tied to abstract quantitative data. Veteran teachers learned that their years of experience weren’t worth anything if they didn’t show up in the annual results. A massive redistribution of educational funding resulted, bringing even more State and Federal funds to the haves, and even less to the have-nots. Consequently, advanced placement classes and schools serving high income students became prized places of employment, and only people desperately needing work would take classes in low-income neighborhoods, or serving English Language Learners. In many-low income schools, undocumented immigrants were the only people willing to take the low paying, menial jobs as teachers.

To Good to be True
It wasn’t until the civil suit Rodriguez vs. LearnFunCorp.com (2007) was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, that many of the problems of privatized education received national attention. The suit, brought by Jose Rodriguez, a 3rd grade student from Costa Verde, California, revealed that many students across the Country were no longer even going to school, and yet the companies that were responsible for educating them still had them on the books, and still cashed their vouchers.

LearnFunCorp.com calls itself a ‘virtual school,’ with no real classrooms or schools, no teachers, and no desks. Students enrolled in its programs must log on to their website, where they engage in “interactive educational video games” pioneered by Senator Joe Lieberman. Student questions submitted online or over the phone, are routed to a call center in Bengal, India. With it’s headquarters listed as a P.O. Box in Bermuda, and only a smattering of employees in the U.S., LearnFunCorp.com has paid no Federal taxes since it was established in 2002, though it has had more than $300 million in profits. In fact, according to investigative journalism by this publication, LearnFunCorp.com is virtually non-existent.

The Supreme Court case revealed that Jose Rodriguez had been a student enrolled in a virtual class with LearnFunCorp.com since he was five years old, and yet, had never received any educational services. His parents had signed forms to enroll Jose in virtual school, unaware of the significance of the decision, but they had no internet access, and had been unable to connect to the virtual environment. Calls to the Bengal call center to un-enroll Jose had proved useless. Local schools would not accept Jose into their classes, because his vouchers were already being received by LearnFunCorp.com. The case also revealed how ineffective the virtual learning environments were for young learners, with hundreds of young students still unable to read. While the case drew attention to these issues, it was tossed out by the highly conservative court.

A Problem Becomes a Crisis
In 2007, 4 out of 5 Americans believed that the education system had reached its lowest point in history, yet only 4 out of 10 thought something should be done about it. Conservatives praised the innovations of the education industry, and insisted the fundamentals of the education sector were strong. Liberals complained that public education should be restored in full, but couldn’t garner enough support to back a major initiative.

“We cannot, should not, play the market with the future of America,” said liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich. “Privatization and outsourcing of America’s most treasured institution is simply unacceptable. In business, there are no profits without risk. Risk should play no part in an institution that we need to be consistently strong to maintain our national security, our culture, and our economy. We are violating the Constitutional rights of citizens when we deny anyone the full opportunity to be an active participant in our Democracy. ”

In 2004, the Federal government raised the stakes on test scores created pressure for schools to exceed their previous performance. Said one Freedom Schools official, “At first, we couldn’t go wrong. Our growth targets were so low, you could phone it in and still meet your goals. We lobbied the state to mandate only 1st grade mathematics and reading for high school graduation proficiency. But with the mandated goal of reaching 100% proficiency by 2013, those standards were too high.”

As a result, many schools began to use unconventional methods for gaming the system and cooking the books, so as not to lose their all-important vouchers and subsidies. Some schools encouraged students to be absent on testing days. Others transferred students from one school to another, to minimize the impact of ‘damaging’ demographic subgroups such as children from low-income families, English language learners, and special needs students. Racial tensions escalated in one Alabama town when all African American students were expelled on the same day, right before testing. Virtual schools simply did not report on the progress of low-performing students.

Luke Laurie is a teacher in Santa Maria, CA. “Sure test scores were rising. We were only teaching two subjects- Math and Language Arts. The school was transformed from a place of developing life-long learners into a corral for rote math and reading. All resources were diverted to target the kids on the cusp. Art, science, music, many of the things that matter most to people, were cut back or outright eliminated. Even with gaming the system, we reached our limits.”

Communities in Illinois became suspect when dozens of youth were loitering around the local 7-11 and the shopping malls during school hours, in a community that was reporting a 100% graduation rate. Freedom Schools, which ran the local school system, had been purging ‘low margin’ students from the rolls, by listing the students as ‘transfer: destination unknown.’

Even schools serving wealthy communities felt the effects of fraud and mismanagement. One Beverly Hills school, which always had outstanding test scores, paid 450 dollars each year for each student, for a consumable workbook on environmental education. The publisher had attained exclusive rights for environmental education, so the school claimed they had no other choice but to buy the book. The FBI determined that one school official had received a yacht and a remodel on his home in exchange for adopting the controversial text.

These tactics were concealed from investors, who had sunk billions into the fledgling industry. Education futures commodities had become highly leveraged, and repackaged into secondary and tertiary instruments, which were subsequently traded. The true value of these commodities is unknown. When the test scores were rising on a logarithmic scale, so were profits. The market was in denial that this growth would ever stop, and few realized how illusory the growth was to begin with. Now that the game is up, panic over the uncertain value of the packaged education futures has led to a selloff in markets worldwide.

A Bailout is Necessary
With the assets of dozens of education providers being seized by government regulators this week, and schools being shuttered across America, it is clear that the privatization movement has come to an end. Local communities are struggling with how to educate youth, when they no longer have public school facilities and teachers. Virtual school websites are now showing 404 errors ‘server not found.’ In a desperate move, Congress acted to bailout the private education providers with a $700 billion package, designed to recapitalize the struggling education companies, like Freedom Schools. “They’re just too big to fail,” said House Democrat Barney Frank.

The House Republican Study Committee issued the following statement yesterday: “It is the opinion of House Republicans that education is the cornerstone of American culture, and that only the free market can truly deliver the high quality education that Americans deserve. A few bad apples in the education sector have led us to this necessary and prudent bailout. Though we believe the cost of the bailout is an unfair burden for taxpayers, we reluctantly support the measure and encourage its passage.”

It is unclear if the bailout will work.

Economic Stimulus-Creative Solutions

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Over the holiday, I’ve done my part to stimulate the economy. I’ve been keeping the paint people at the hardware store employed. I’ve been spending money on gifts and things I’ve procrastinated on buying for some time, and have frequented many restaurants. I feel better about buying stuff, because: A) Everything is cheaper. B) Every dollar I spend is a dollar put into the economy, and C) The more moving dollars, the more employed people.

It’s a little strange, but irresponsible spending is almost, and I must say almost, the responsible thing to do. Now of course, I’m not spending beyond my means, but I am spending. But I can’t do it alone. My income isn’t enough to keep all the wheels of industry going. So here I’ll propose some unconventional approaches to economic stimulus, some serious, and others not. What the heck, when we’re in such a downward spiral, shouldn’t all ideas be on the table?
The Problem: The economy is based on the exchange of goods and services, it’s not just about money. Think of money as water, and the economy as the waves, turbulence, and currents. Without the movement and energy, water just sits there, just like money in the bank. Now there’s also all that complexity of markets, securities, and finance, but let’s just ignore those ivy-league concepts, and look at what ordinary people can do, right now to stimulate the economy, to make waves, so to speak. Feel free to post your own ideas below.
10 pounds for America: People sell weight loss drugs, diet programs, and surgeries to make money. It is a multimillion dollar industry. But the industry that makes tater-tots, donuts, and ice cream, the agricutural-food industry, is even bigger. Why don’t we help agribusiness and America by making the commitment to eat more.

If everyone in America made the commitment to gain 10 pounds in 2009, it would increase GDP by an estimated 900 billion dollars! Think of it, more pizza, more burgers, dessert every day. By eating more, and buying more food, we’ll be supporting the grocers, eateries, shippers, truckers, food producers, and farmers- tons of domestic industry. Sure we import pineapples and bananas, but a heck of a whole lot of food is made right here in the good old USA.
Eat out, Every Day: Every time you make your own food, you’re taking away income from wait-staff, bussers, dish washers, management, and restaurant corporations. When you eat at home, you’re also likely creating less waste, and smaller portions than if you were to eat out. It’s less efficient to eat out, and therefore better for the economy. So visit your favorite diner often, and ensure that they’ll be around for the far-distant boom times.
Sell random stuff: So, if you don’t need something, don’t throw it away, don’t give it away, sell it, or let somebody else sell it. Remember: Moving dollars means economic activity. If you can’t think of anything to get rid off, sell something anyway. So grab that lamp shaped like a woman’s leg, or that clarinet you can’t play anymore, or your snowmobile, and put it up on Craig’s List or ebay. Even if you sell it for cheap, you’ve added to the economy, and increased the likelihood that we’ll all be employed.
Decrease efficiency: Work slower so that your employer will need more employees. Suggest the removal of some time-saving technology to be replaced by unskilled laborers. Replace cell phones with messengers. Buy things and use them once before replacing them. Talk slower. If your job pays by the hour, pace yourself, and save some work for someone else. Remember- do as little as possible without risking getting fired. America will thank you.
Hire Someone: If every working American hired just one person, we would have 200% employment! It’s important that their pay is less than yours, but these are details. Pay someone to do something (legal) for you.
Offset Imports: Buying American is a difficult thing to do. It’s nearly impossible to buy electronics or household goods that are made domestically. So, instead of stopping all purchases, find a way to offset these purchases with domestic investment. So go to Walmart and spend to your heart’s content, but then turn around and spend equal dollars in some fundamentally American industry- like at a Christmas tree farm, or at the movies.