Gloom be gone


Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 5:13 p.m.

Heavy sigh! Great discontent! There's the smell of an election in the air and we're all gloomy.

How gloomy? Really gloomy.

The New York Times says we're in a "darker mood" now than we were when George W. Bush yanked the Oval Office chair right out from under Al Gore's descending rump. Reports the Times - aka The Great Gray Lady - there's been "a darkening of the country's mood and, in the eyes of many, a fraying of America's very sense of itself."

Bummer. Personally, I blame reality TV. Not to mention a writer's strike that literally took the words out of Leno's mouth.

It gets worse. A CBS News/New York Times poll says 75 percent of us think the country has "pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track." Back in 2000, just 44 percent of us thought such gloomy thoughts.

Ah, 2000. I recall it now as being such an innocent year. If only we knew now what we knew then.

But now we're gloomy. Really gloomy. Maybe as gloomy as we've been since Jimmy Carter told us that a "malaise" had gripped the American psyche.

Say, whatever happened to Jimmy anyway? That guy had a grin the size of Texas. Nobody grins like that anymore. We're all too gloomy.

Well I don't know about the rest of you, but I think we just have to shake it off. We've got to wash that gloom right out of our hair. We need to keep our sunny side up. We must remember what it was that made America great.

We all need to suck it up and go shopping.

And here's the really good news. The silver lining peeking out behind that great sopping cloud of American gloom.

Hey, it's an election year. And our collective mope is freaking out all the politicians. All of a sudden, malaise control has turned into a bipartisan imperative.

Listen, the lion may not be ready to lay down with the lamb, but W. and Nancy climbed into bed together on a national economic stimulus plan. And you know what that means.

Ka-ching! It's rebate time in America. Uncle Sam is going to put 116 million checks in the mail. Paper or plastic, pal?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm thinking new HDTV. Of the wafer-thin, hang-it-on-the-wall-and-pretend-it's-art variety.

No, please, don't thank me. Anything to get America moving again. Like when they rationed gas and had meatless Tuesdays during the dark gloomy days of World War II. A shared sacrifice for the greater good.

Now, I'm no economist. I don't even play one on TV. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once, so I can speak with some authority on this issue.

Rebates are the 21st century solution to a 21st century problem.

Oh sure, there was a time when government stimulated the economy by building infrastructure. By putting our tax dollars into new roads, new schools, ports and airports and pipelines and power lines and bridges and dams and overpasses.

By paying us to build stuff instead of telling us to buy stuff.

Or maybe we did it by sending America back to school. By building up our intellectual infrastructure. The G.I. Bill. Pell Grants. Land grants. Job retraining. Constructing new entrance ramps to the information highway.

But, really, that sort of thing is sooo 20th century.

This is the credit century. The shopping century.

We figured out when we invaded Iraq that we could fight the war with $10 billion a month of borrowed money.

And we discovered that we could cut our taxes and borrow even more money so we wouldn't actually have to cut any of our benefits.

And best of all, we borrowed from foreign banks and foreign governments.

That's what's so perfect about these election year rebates. Forget that it's going to push our deficit from $163 billion to $250 billion.

It's not important.

After all, it's not like we're talking about real money. Foreign money even looks like play money. What's the big deal?

It's perfect, really. We're all tapped out from buying pricey gasoline and cheap Chinese manufactured goods.

So our politicians will borrow more money from the Mideast and China and send us rebate checks.

So we can keep on buying pricey gasoline and cheap Chinese goods.

And the really swell part is that the Saudis and the Chinese have nothing to do with all that extra dough but turn around and buy up American companies and American real estate.

Not to mention the occasional American politician.

Thereby stimulating America's economy.

Gloom be gone. Thank goodness for election years. Happy days are here again.

Ron Cunningham is The Sun's editorial page editor. Write him at cunninr@gvillesun.com.

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