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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So if I understand you correctly, it is better to (5+ / 0-)

    purchase services than goods, and better to buy goods crafted in America by locals and artisans instead of those made in other countries.  Let us not forget that what we donate to others in need will be spent right away, making the money stay in circulation.

    I don't remember the quote exactly, but A.Lincoln was once offered cheaper British steel for the railroads the union was building, but he declined to buy it, stating that if he bought American steel, the country would have the steel and the money too.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:06:39 PM PDT

  •  Everybody can do this, even if only a little (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Williston Barrett, G2geek

    Look around where you live. See any local businesses? Do they sell anything made locally? Even if you have to pay a premium (and it won't be a huge premium, or they wouldn't stay in business), you can feel better about your money not going to promote more cheap plastic crap from China.

    (BTW, I'll shop for Chinese goods in Chinatown--the difference is, I actually want something Chinese, not some plastic crap with an American label made by cheap Chinese/Vietnamese/Indonesian/Sri Lankan labor.)

    Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

    by Pale Jenova on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:20:02 PM PDT

  •  great idea! - but what about Nov 2012? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Williston Barrett, G2geek

    Definitely an idea that is good all around and could win elections, just not the one coming up. Nov 2020, if we start working now, maybe. Any sort of local candidates talking like this would be fantastic.

    (and I don't own a car so can't really help with the boycott side initially)

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:29:03 PM PDT

    •  I like the term "boycott." We need to boycott (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      big oil. Thanks for not owning a car. You are already part of the solution.

      You know it also wouldn't hurt to conserve all energy consumption (I have a feeling you're also doing that).

      I have drastically cut my heating bills lowering my thermostat to 48 degrees at night and no higher than 60 when I'm home during the day. This in chilly northern Illinois.

      I've also replaced all my bulbs with the cfls and have even replaced some of the light fixtures (good to stimulate the economy--the local electrician was sure happy to help out) that were not cfl friendly (they kept overheating and burning out the bulbs)

      •  put a ScanGauge in your car: MPG readout. (3+ / 0-)

        Scangauge costs less than $200 online and will pay for itself in gas savings.  It plugs into the "ODB" port below & to the left of the steering wheel in any car 1996 or newer.  Gives you instant and cumulative MPG readout.  Also has a clever setting for "TFC" or "total fuel cost," which if you set it to 1.00, actually gives you "total fuel consumption" per trip.

        The point of using ScanGauge is that you quickly learn all the clever driving tricks that increase your fuel efficiency, and yes this really does make a difference.  

        My micro-van is EPA rated at 25 MPG highway, but using ScanGauge I typically get 30 - 35 on combined highway/city trips.  

        And I also discovered that city driving conditions make a major difference in city mileage.  EPA rated 22 city, but stop-and-go traffic pulls it down to around 17, whereas good conditions enable me to get 25 city.  Sometimes a slightly longer route ends up with lower fuel consumption for a trip, because the roads are clear of traffic.  

        Once someone starts paying attention to their driving and getting real efficiency improvements, it becomes a kind of game to reduce overall monthly fuel consumption because the money savings are tangible.  So then other smart driving practices kick in, like linking trips or not taking needless trips, or using public transport instead of driving for certain trips.

        My overall gasoline consumption averages about 12 gallons per month, compared to the USA average of about 16 gallons a week.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:12:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ScanGauge sounds neat! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I remember that the 1983 Cadillac I drove a few years back had a display that did all that, installed from the factory evidently. It was a great help, and I am glad to know that I can get a hold of another one for any vehicle.  

      •  We're pretty low carbon (0+ / 0-)

        by first world standards. No car. No AC unit. And I'm the first to mention that "no car" is one of my favorite things about my hometown. I've lived around the country and I don't think it would be possible elsewhere. Even in most of the other big cities it would be from an effort to a real problem to exist without a car.

        The traffic state is a bad thing and I've known that since I was a kid. My guess is electric car will be sorted out in the next decade but my hope is culturally we move away from sprawl and towards urban density vs rural. This city boy really likes small towns out in the woods but drive through country is ugly and generic.

        And ... boycott. Vote with our money. Buy local if possible (try finding domestic kids toys ...). Find down ballot candidates who are willing to fight the dirty good fight over urban and suburban planning. And GOTV.

        If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

        by jgnyc on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 12:45:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about closing Andrews AFB except for those (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Williston Barrett

    flights directly related to nation defense?

  •  Great diary, lots of good suggestions, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova

    but I will confess that my first reaction was "where is Main Street?"

    The version closest to me is in a small town about 12 miles away.  The way this country was developed is really a mess.  I grew up in Philadelphia, and some of my favorite childhood memories involve being sent to the corner grocery or the butcher to pick up that night's dinner.  Now I live in what was once the country and has become the suburbs.  When my daughter moved to downtown Baltimore, I was so excited that she would have something like my childhood experience.

    No dice.  She could walk to buy milk or bread (only white) or junk, but in order to do any real grocery shopping, we had to get in her damn car and drive to the edge of the suburbs.  Made me nuts.  

    I'm luckier than most people- there is a small, family owned "supermarket" in one of those strip malls that has declined as newer strip malls came along.  This market has been the only stable business for 30 years. They don't have a huge selection, but they're good for probably 80% of what I need, including locally grown produce.  And the prices are downright cheap.  I don't know how they do it, suspect that  low rent plays a big part, but I often wonder if this is a model that would work in the other quasi-abandoned strip malls that are all over the place.

    •  A lot of areas suck without urban planning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In many suburbs, you can only tell you've entered a new "town" when the McDonald's, Subway, and 7-Eleven signs start to repeat.

      In Orange County from the air, it's clear they no longer grow oranges and instead put in a crop of houses. I asked my sister about those places without any houses. She said, "Those are rivers."

      I was happy to return home to a place where rivers have real water in them, lol!

      Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

      by Pale Jenova on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 07:03:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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