Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nesting.... How do we turn our lives from being head centered to hand centered? The details of the Bush tax rebate suggest that the average American couple may get up to $1600.00 to throw away on consumer spending to enliven the American economy. As Mario suggests in the comment below, putting it in the bank or paying down debt is another idea... not what the government has in mind. In fact, it is exactly what they hope doesn't happen. The idea is that the economy is just one big idea, a bubble sustained by people putting all their hopes in it. Like a real bubble, it takes blowing and blowing (spending and spending) to keep it full. When Bush did this before, passing out hundreds of dollars to individuals and married couples before plunging our nation deeply into dept and throwing us into war with Iraq (the other way to falsely stimulate the economy), my wife and I invested a portion of our rebate in the Democratic Party. At the time, that was another big waste.

So, here is how to put the money to work in your own life. First, don't spend it dining out. The average American family spent nearly half its food budget on meals eaten away from home. Less than one-third of families prepare meals from scratch. This means that between the meals eaten away from home and the health-impairing fat-filled prepared foods, Americans are making themselves sick and over-weight and pushing health care costs through the roof.

Use your government promised nest egg to do a little nesting. It may not be the best way to stimulate the economy but it will stimulate and sustain the culture and the soul. Here are a few specifics:

Invest your windfall in kitchen improvements, energy saving appliances, cookbooks, and things that make your cooked-from-scratch mealtimes an absolute delight. And don't forget to add a few candles. The unintended consequence of dinners made at home might be conversation and romance.

If you are part of that one-third of American families already cooking from scratch at home, do more of it, and add another layer of hands-on activity to your busy life. There's knitting to do, stitching of buttons. If objects of clothing were repaired to last just 10 percent longer, that represents a 10 percent reduction in the energy and material required over the long term. After a bit of stitching, you might find it to be fun. Spend your rebate on a very good sewing machine. By making the clothes for yourself and your family, you can save thousands and reduce the overall energy required.

Make up a good fix-it kit. Pliers, wrenches and assorted screwdrivers to fit a variety of weird screws will do. By fixing things you can extend their lives to more than double and gain a sense of mastery over the technological world. I am reminded of an experience when I was a teen. My sister was throwing away her two year old clock radio because it had stopped and she couldn't get it to start again. I took it apart, rotated a few parts, just turning them to see if I could see what was wrong and not finding anything obvious that I could fix, I put it back together. For reasons I will never completely understand, when I plugged it in, it worked, and lasted another 10 years before it died for good and went to the landfill. Fixing things yourself won't stimulate the economy, but it is the best way to live with technology, reaping a sense of power from our relationship with it rather than dependency.

Make things for your home. Invest in tools. Make your yard beautiful. If you have done those things, weatherize your home. Invest in deeper attic insulation. Replace all your light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Buy a good bicycle and use it. You will cut your transportation costs and regain physical fitness, while reducing your health care costs as well. And if you have done all those things, pay down debt. You will be expected to use your windfall to jack up oil company profits. But with some care and planning you can crank your own life up to a higher level of comfort, security, and personal satisfaction. The consequence whether intended or not will be that you will live in greater harmony with family, community and the environment. If you listen to the Bush line and Bush fears, you might feel guilty about failing to sustain the growth of our Gross National Product. That might make sense if our GNP weren't so gross in the first place. Our transition from helpless consumers to hands-on revolutionaries is not what the Bush administration wants, but it is what the times require. If the money does come, please remember that it is borrowed from the future. Don't just spend it as Bush invites, invest it wisely in things that help to assure that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will live meaningful lives. And please don't worry that you aren't doing enough to boost the economy. There will be plenty of fools who will take their checks and waste them on stimulating the economics of wasteful consumerism.

If you happen to be one of the many readers from other countries. First, I congratulate you for having smarter government leaders than we do in the US. And I thank you for being friends of the American people despite the foolishness and stupidity of our President.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:31 AM

    the malicious foolishness and stuididity of your President Is matched only by that of our ex - Prime Minister. It puts us all in the same boat.