Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your Right to Complain About The Economy

A rant about today's politics always includes some statement about the economy. Which got me thinking, how much literacy actually stands behind the average American's desperate cry, "And what about the situation of the economy?!"

There's a joke among economists, who are a generally humorous bunch, that if your neighbor loses his job that means there's a recession but if you lose your job, that means we're in a depression. While this joke is so steeped in hilarity that I'm struggling to control my bladder right now, it also illustrates an interesting truth regarding how most American voters approach the U.S. economy.

They approach it microscopically and very personally. And, of course, I understand that we all want to know whether all this stuff is going to make an actual difference in our day to day. I wonder, though, if people realize that often your day to day experiences with the economy are one teeny, tiny, miniscule part of a bigger picture. To make the right decisions for your lifetime and your posterity, you have to get to know that bigger picture.

Like, say taxes. Everybody hates taxes. Taxes are the devil. But, why? Because it feels bad to pay them? Because you know you will have less money to spend on useless crap you probably didn't need in the first place? (Yes, I'm aware that the more money you spend on useless crap, the better it is for the economy...but that is entirely beside my overall point.)

No, I don't love taxes, and I don't always support raising them. But, sometimes, the government has to raise taxes. Without an understanding of basic economics, casting my vote for someone who promises not to raise taxes is akin to my only eating things that I find absolutely and fantastically delicious. (Don't believe the hype, spinach leaves will never taste as good as french fries. Never.)

Let me beat you senseless with the point I'm trying to make for a minute.

Say you're a childless bachelor living it up in suburbia. You live in one of those swanky gated communities that has just been built and most of your neighbors have small kids. Because the community is new, let's say there are no speed limits set up, yet. The Stepford Wives that live on either side of you knock on your door one fine afternoon and inform you that they are putting together a proposal for the HOA that will ask them to post a speed limit of 30 MPH on the main road.

"Hmmm," you say, as you think to yourself, I don't have any kids and I like going 50 MPH in my community, but then again, I don't want to hit one of these women's kids, because that one in the DKNY jumpsuit looks like she could kick the crap out of me...

And, then, BLAM!! A spaceship lands on your front yard, and a little green space woman walks out. You and your neighbors stare in amazement as she rambles towards you on her slimy alien looking feet.

"Greetings, mildly affluent people of earth," she says, in heavily accented English, "I am Bunny from the Planet Moronia. I just moved here. I do not know what a car is, nor do I know what this thing 'street' might be or what a speed limit is and only have a vague conception of what a child might be. Still, I'm so worried, what are we going to do about the situation of the Main Road?!!"

I'll feel lucky if most of my voting compatriots are either the childless bachelor or one of the Stepford Wives in the above story. I have a sinking feeling, though, that more than a few of them are represented in the newly relocated resident of the Planet Moronia.

So, I would like to graciously ask those Americans who are not economically literate to stop stressing over the economy. Sure, you have a right to stress, I suppose, but why not focus your pessimism on matters on which you are more educated.

The problem, of course, is that everyone thinks they know something about the economy, or at least enough.

So, because you are super, duper special, I've formulated a quick five question quiz for you to help you find out whether or not you are qualified to comment on the state of the American economy.

Because I believe that the ninth circle of hell is reserved for Ann Coulter and the makers of pop quizzes, I'm going to give you twenty four hours of studying time. (Translate this to "I cannot spend the rest of the day on this blog post.")

If you pass, which I am sure you will, you can print it out. Then, whenever you get into an argument over economic policy with someone, you can just whip that paper out and scream,


That should humiliate your opponent to the point of envy-laden silence or, if you're really lucky, uncontrollable sobbing.

The quiz will cover GDP, fiscal policy making, trade deficit, tax credits and economic growth.

Try to contain your enthusiasm and see you tomorrow.


Blogger Avitable said...

You're going to give an economics test? Did you steal it from good ol' Walt?

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  
Anonymous Zia said...

Your three year old has homework, and now you assign your blog readers homework!?!

That's not very fun. I boycott the quiz in favor of "pick up pencil"

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  
Blogger Faiqa said...

Avitable: Hey. Weren't we in that class together? Now, I remember. I feel like you sat next to me or something. Anyway, no I did not steal it from "the Fonz" as I lovingly called him.

Zia: Whatever, Gunner, I know you're studying as I type these very words.

Avitable & Zia: I notice of all the people who claim to read this blog, you are the first two to comment on this post. And you were both in IB. Nerdiness is forever, isn't it?

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  
Blogger Avitable said...

You should know that better than any of us!

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  
Blogger Tariq said...

How soon will I receive my "DO YOU HAVE ONE OF THESE, PUNK?!!" card? If this catches on, I may just forego my Phd in Economics...after all flashing a badge at someone's face who is arguing with you, is a lot more appealing than a boring 'phd' next to your name.

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  
Blogger sybil law said...

I don't think I really need a test to know that taxes will or should be raised, but okay!
I really want one of those cards!

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008  

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