Yet another election where "It's all about the economy, stupid" (and the price of gas) and guess what, kiddos, it's up to us to save the economy (and drive down the price of gas). And yes, we can.
With austerity madness sweeping Europe and a Republican Party in the USA hellbent on sabotaging the economy to defeat Obama (while ranting and raving about a deficit they, themselves, mostly ran up), we the peoples of the world, those of the 99%, have been abandoned by our governments and left to fend for ourselves as best we can in a world economy that's teetering on the brink of destruction.
And so now it's up to us to save ourselves. To save the world. And yes, we can.
The question is, how badly do you want to win in November?
Are you willing to fundamentally change the way you live your lives, at least temporarily? (Are you willing to start carpooling for instance?) Are you willing to take some risks? Are you willing to think out of the box? (Are you willing to be nice to your neighbors?)
Because fundamentally changing the way many of us are living our lives, at least temporarily, at least until November (though it would be nice if some of these changes stuck around for good), is what it will take to turn it all around.
It's All About the Benzene (And the Externalities): DIY Stimulus Step 1. Driving Down the Price of Gasoline
(Or as I like to call it, kicking the Koch Brothers where it hurts)
Did you ever notice, during the GW Bush years, how more than anything else, (more than tragic news from Iraq or bungled disaster recoveries) it was the price of gasoline at the pump that caused his approval ratings to fluctuate? Well, welcome to America, where car is king and cheap gas is a god-given right (and woe to any politician who forgets that).
Well, the same thing's happening to Obama, bigtime. (Though dismal employment reports are equally taking their toll--in fact it's these two factors that will more than anything else determine who wins in November--hence this 2 step program.)
Moreover, not only are high gas prices in and of themselves harmful to Obama's re-election prospects, they're also a huge drag on the economy, a bad economy being equally harmful to Obama's re-election prospects. (So in driving down the price of gasoline between now and November, we actually get a twofer.)
How do we, aggrieved and humble consumers accomplish this?
We Act As If It's 1973; We Act As If There's An Actual Energy Crisis: We Curtail Our Consumption (And every penny we save we're going to spend on Main Street.)
(And if you look at the externalities, like the fact that we're destroying the planet with our energy consumption, there really is an actual energy crisis. We need to curtail our consumption)
This means we do all the things people did in the early 70s and then some. We carpool. We cut out any unnecessary trips (for example we go to the store on our way home from work--yes with the whole carpool who are fellow good Democrats--or better yet we frequent the local market we can walk or bike to even if it's more expensive)
This year, for those of us who can afford a vacation, we see the USA (remember we're spending our money on Main Street, not the Champs Elysee) but not in a Chevrolet. (No Road Trips for us this summer.) Instead, we either have staycations or we visit places reachable by bus or plane or Amtrak that have great public transportation--haven't you been wanting to see Coit Tower or the Empire State Building or the Renoirs at the Chicago Art Institute? This is the year to do it. (You can commune with nature after the election.)
Instead of going out on a Saturday night, why not have a barbecue or potluck with the neighbors who live within walking distance (This is the part where being nice to your neighbors will help get Obama re-elected.)
If you can afford it now is the time to buy that hybrid or high mileage car (But do your due diligence and make sure it is made in the USA preferably by United Auto Workers--just as an example, the highly rated Ford Fusion Hybrid is made in Mexico--this is the year we boost the American economy.)
I'm sure you can come up with even better ideas to slash gasoline consumption, in order to drive prices down, in order to boost Obama's chances (And in order to save the environment) And yes, I realize that in the long run cheap gas prices are not a good thing--this is just an emergency measure to save us from the environmental catastrophe that a Republican victory in November would bring.
I also know what you're thinking (if you're a cynic like me), that the oil companies will just cut production, maybe shutdown a few refineries in order to keep prices up. Well, it could happen. (This is the part where we risk failure.) But every one of our dollars we keep out of the Koch Brothers pockets (and instead put into the hands of working American) is a victory and every hydrocarbon kept out of the atmosphere is good for the environment, so even if we fail to dramatically bring down gas prices we still benefit and we raise consciousness and build solidarity.
And we save money. Money we spend on Main Street. Money we spend on Main Street to get the economy booming by November.
Yes, we go shopping. (And yes, I realize the irony--that this is what Bush urged after 911.)
But we do a special kind of shopping. We shop on Main Street (no ipods please). We shop local. We shop green. We shop the farmer's market. We spend in a way that creates jobs (it's time for that massage, that mani-pedi, that haircut you've been putting off), that puts money in the hands of working Americans. (It's time to start hanging out at the local diner, even if the coffee sucks.)
We create what economists call a "virtuous cycle." I put money in your pocket, you put money in mine. (And we keep it out of the hands of the Koch Brothers and the Waltons)
Which brings us to part 2 of the DIY Stimulus Plan, the one that's necessary because our governments have abandoned us, the 99% of the world.
Start Spending (On Main Street): The DIY Stimulus Plan Part 2--Without An Increase in Demand, There Will Be No Recovery
(And because our governments have abandoned us, because they scorn Keynesian economics, it's left to us to create that demand as best we can)
First and foremost, I understand that there are many people out there who are hurting and simply can't afford to spend, who simply can't risk their precarious finances. Don't. And I also realize that many of you have already slashed your energy usage. This is not aimed at you, but instead at two other groups: 1) The "worried well" and 2) The enlightened members of the one percent who are good Democrats (And like Stephen King, one of the premier members of this group, say "raise my #*&# taxes")
"The Worried Well"
Most people, even now, are employed. Some have secure jobs. Some are doing quite well. (You know who you are and there are more than a few of you on DailyKos) But they see the economic carnage all around them and (rightfully) worry about the future. They may also feel guilty spending money when so many are suffering. So, for various reasons, they cut back on spending. These are the "worried well." (Some of the worst damage done in a recession/depression caused by the spending cuts done by the "worried well.")
It's time for the "worried well" to step up to the plate and start spending (wisely, locally, greenly.) It's time to take a risk (because the risk of not acting, the risk of Republican austerity is even greater). The best, most wise spending might be on "infrastructure" on things that will have a long-term pay-off (rather than on a trip to Vegas).
It's time to consider those solar panels, or that super-efficient furnace or water heater that will cost so much to install. You'll be boosting the environment and the economy (But you need to do it right now to get the economy booming by November). Perhaps you've been putting off replacing those windows (Do it now.) Or maybe you need a new roof (Do it now before November to boost the economy.
Spend money on things you're going to eventually have to spend money on but do it now, before November, to get the economy moving, to help get Obama re-elected (Because it still "all about the economy, stupid")
In a perfect world, we would have a Democratically controlled Congress and the nation as a whole would be instituting a second stimulus program as the first one was inadequate, and it would be aimed at infrastructure.
But given that we've been abandoned by our governments, it's up to us to institute a stimulus plan that at least aims at our own personal infrastructures.
I'm sure you can come up with other ways to spend money to stimulate the economy and even if you can't afford big ticket items, maybe you can afford a cup of coffee at the local roaster's coffee house or maybe some pie and coffee at the local diner (and tip well) Anything to get money into the hands of working people who can then turn around and spend it creating that virtuous cycle (as opposed to the deadly downward cycle austerity is wreaking on all of us.)
As for you, Stephen King, and the rest of the thriving .1%(you know who you are--maybe you owned a chunk of Facebook or you have a spectaculary successful political website), spend, spend, spend. If your house is all tricked out in the best of solar panels, adopt some local schools to retrofit (it's tax deductible).
But you must do it now, before November.
I realize this two part DIY Stimulus Plan is just an emergency measure; that there are deep-rooted structural problems that must be addressed; that we need to reign in Wall Street.
But we need to buy time. And we must at all costs avoid a Republican victory in November.
To do this we must do what our governments are failing to do: We must stimulate the economy. We must create demand. So we need you and a few million of your best friends to participate in The DIY Stimulus Plan
What are you willing to do to get Obama re-elected, retain the Senate and win back the House? Are you willing to fundamentally change the way you live at least until November? Are you willing to take a risk? Are you willing to risk looking foolish? Are you willing to risk failure?
It's yet another election year and it's yet again "all about the economy, stupid" (as well as the price of gas).
We are not powerless to do something about that.