Paul Krugman, an op-ed columnist, like many other journalists and financial analysts and average Americans, fears the second Great Depression is on its way. Our new president, as a sign of his devotion to fixing the great social and economic problems in this country, raised over $27 million for his Jan. 20 inaugural celebration. Wait, that doesn’t help us, does it?
No, this money will not help us. In fact, some people might look at this news as a kick to America’s stomach. The United States is facing possibly the worst economic downturn since the stock market crash of 1929, but what’s another 27 million dollars down the drain. When you think about it, $27 million isn’t really that much, considering we owe China more than half a trillion dollars. $27 million? Pah! A pittance. What could we do with $27 million? The money wouldn’t touch most Americans’ problems, but it could help some. Or the money could be put towards government works projects like FDR did in the thirties. Fix some roads, build some bridges, clear some space for community gardens.
In fact, isn’t this a kick in America’s face? People are losing their jobs, struggling like they haven’t struggled since Black Friday in 1929 when the stock market went into the ground sending America into it’s first and, so far, only Great Depression. But what’s $27 million? That kind of money could only be used for tiny things, like helping a few thousand children receive a better education, or provide the means for a few hundred small businesses get back on their feet. The giants of the auto industry just received a loan of $25 billion.
Maybe we’re too spoiled to even appreciate this kind of money. Go to Central America and you find people living on $3,000 a year. That $27 million could pay the annual salaries of 9,000 Hondurans or Guatemalans. But we’re talking about America here, and Americans need more. We need a solid health care system and a greater focus on local goods. I mean, the United States is said to have the greatest supply of natural resources in the world. Maybe a turn inward would help us out, a break from the global economy. But, like the result in Terminator 3, when Skynet worked it’s way into laptops and home computers around the world, the current global economy may be irrevocably intertwined with the U.S. economy. Detroit is failing. Countries like China and Japan and India are stepping up to the plate. The military continues to spend like a 5-year-old in a toystore with a blank check. Next year’s military budget, when everything’s factored in, is a tad more than $650 billion dollars. In 2007 only 17 countries in the world had a larger overall economy than what the U.S. is spending on its military. But this data only goes to show that $27 million is really nothing to fret over.
Big deal, a few million on balloons, a few million on guest performers and a few million on the police to keep the happy-go-lucky drunken masses in line, because you can bet, with the shape the economy’s in these days, quite a few people will be going heavy on the sauce. Obama and his party might argue that America needs this celebration to lift morale. But what if Obama went on national television and said, “my fellow Americans, this year, in these trying times, we’ve raised over $27 million for my upcoming inaugural celebration. But as a gesture to start this new year, this new administration on the right foot, I’m canceling the celebration, and we’re going to give that money to 10 different school systems throughout the country because it all starts with education, and it’s time to start making a change. Thank you.” Ahhh. To dream.