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Birthday cards and the recession

It’s official. Germany’s economy has emerged from the recession. This development is especially remarkable considering Germany’s economy shrunk by a whopping 8 percent in the global recession. By comparison, America’s shrunk only 4 percent.

While our wise and esteemed leaders in Washington, D.C. saw the recession as a perfect opportunity to borrow trillions and spend it (a sound financial move if ever there was one), Angela Merkel, German’s Chancellor, resisted stimulus tenaciously. She put her faith in the free market believing that Germany’s private sector would right itself without the government’s help.

In the end (specifically, in January of this year), Merkel compromised with political opponents to her Left, but only a very little bit. She agreed to a $66 billion spending plan. By Washington, D.C.’s standards, $66 billion is bus change. Bureaucrats walk out of Congressional stimulus hearings with $66 billion stuck to the bottom of their shoes. Congressmen’s grandchildren get birthday cards with $66 billion enclosed.

Anyway, $66 billion works out to about $805 per German citizen. So Germany has extricated itself from the world recession for $805 per person. And this assumes that the German stimulus spending caused Germany to come out of the recession. And this causal nexus is doubtful. Unlike our American leaders, Chancellor Merkel insisted that essentially all of the $66 billion be spent on infrastructure improvements, and so most of the stimulus money, appropriated earlier this year, has not been spent yet. It’s hard to see how stimulus spending, which has not been spent yet, has caused anything.

The stimulus and TARP will cost American taxpayers about $1.7 trillion. (This figure, of course, does not include national debt incurred for other purposes. If it did, the figure would be $2.75 trillion). A $1.7 trillion bill works out to $5,500 per person. (And this assumes everyone will pay his or her fair and equal share. Of course, if you work, you will be required to also pay the shares of those who don’t).

And so it is that Americans are paying seven times more in stimulus taxes than their German brethren. And we’re getting less, for we are still mired in a recession. Or, has our national leadership would say, “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.” (Whenever you hear someone from government use the word “crisis,” beware. It’s the government person’s way of saying he’s going to take more of your money). There was a time when great leaders presided in Washington and worthless scamps ruled in Berlin. No more.

But don’t despair. If you are young enough, maybe a member of Congress will adopt one of your parents and send you birthday cards.

The Settlement Observer is a resident of Farmington.

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