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Stimulate me 

I’m completely unstimulated. Limp as Bob Dole’s pen. I can’t get cash for my clunker; my TARP is torn, and when it comes to first-time homebuyer credit, I can’t even cop a grope at first base.


So I have a question for President Obama: Does your stimulus plan include me at all?


I feel like the kid watching a parade who keeps waving for candy from the Shriner in the convertible, only to see the Jolly Ranchers and saltwater taffys ricochet and bounce into all the other kids’ hands, as if I’m sitting behind a force field. I’m that person in the crowd at the ball game, acting as falsely cheery and ridiculous as possible, dancing idiotically for the mascot in hopes of a free T-shirt launched from a crowd-control gun, but the fucker never even looks my way.


I believe I speak for everyone in the country when I say: Quit giving other people money if you’re not going to give me some!


The bank bailout outraged me because most of the money went to the pinstripers who got us in this mess. There were Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AIG. Still, as unfair as it was, I understood the basic argument that you can’t let the banks fail or the whole deal goes down the shitter.


I didn’t understand the argument when it came to General Motors and Chrysler. General Motors made bad cars and even worse decisions. It has been in steady decline since the 1950s, when it sold half the cars in America. How could you even look at an H2 and feel an instinct to reward its pushers? Yet the U.S. government plowed more than $50 billion into a company that was worth, at its 2008 peak, about $58 billion. And this was sold to the American people with a sticker that promised it was necessary because a GM bankruptcy would devastate the economy.


And then the government went ahead and led GM into bankruptcy. And the economy only seems to be getting better. Sure, $50 billion would save jobs, but that’s a nonsense argument. You could put $50 billion anywhere and it would buy exactly $50 billion worth of whatever. What if we’d used that money to stave the bankruptcies of real people, or small businesses they used to work for?

   Even worse, now the government is in a position of pretending to regulate a massive business it owns. If you don’t think this is a problem, consider the EPA’s response when GM announced—without any apparent basis to support the claim—that it expected its planned mostly electric car, the Volt, to get more than 230 miles to the gallon.


The EPA responded with a statement saying it hadn’t tested the car and thus couldn’t support that figure. It would have been fine if the statement had stopped there, but here’s what the EPA went on to say:


“EPA does applaud GM’s commitment to designing and building the car of the future—an American-made car that will save families money, significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good-paying American jobs. We’re proud to see American companies and American workers leading the world in the clean energy innovations that will shape the 21st century economy.”


Cue the inspirational music and put your hotdog in the apple pie, because that statement is absolute, unmitigated, flag-waving, pap. It sounds like it was ripped straight from GM’s annual report to stockholders, and it might as well be since the EPA, a would-be regulator, is in effect a major shareholder in GM.


The country also seems to be watching out for its investment in the cash-for-clunkers program. Although I grudgingly applaud the idea that at least this program actually gives money to people I might pass on the street, the net effect is it has the government rewarding people who didn’t care about good gas mileage before, at the expense of those who did.


If you’ve got an old Ford Focus, you can forget about any government help, but if you had a GM beast that got 12 miles per gallon, you’re rewarded with free cash. Again, even if I could afford to buy a new car, I’d miss out.


Contrast the winners and losers in this Great Recession to those of the Great Depression, where they were giving out money to muralists and photographers and writers—all sorts of flakes like me. Real people. In this recession, if you can’t get mortgage, buy a new car, and don’t own a failing bank, you’re shit out of luck, sending your kids to schools without teachers as you try to stave off foreclosure.


One more time, President Obama: Does your stimulus plan include me at all?


Keep ’em coming! (So to speak)


Thanks to all of you loyal readers who, having gotten all jazzed up by the titillations in the Gail Wilcox-Tony Perry report, have been sending in your many, many tips, rumors, and dirty jokes about the sexual habits of certain county employees and would-be sheriffs. I’ll find a way to air as much of this dirty laundry as possible, but a modicum of proof would help. Anybody got any tapes? E-mails? Court records? Given some of the names involved, I’m not promising to watch, but it would be nice to tell the editors that, when it comes to a particular sex rumor, there’s something behind it. So to speak.


Shredder can be reached at [email protected].

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