Economy needs common cents

Published 11:47 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boiled peanuts taste good. Yep, that’s what I thought sitting on my deck Sunday afternoon with a colander of salty delight in my lap.

I opened one, popped it in my mouth and it surely tasted good. I was fighting lovebugs as I enjoyed the goobers, but that comes with the territory this time of year.

The sky was blue; a breeze brought relief from the midday heat and my mind wandered with the wind all the way to Washington D.C., then to New York City and back to Alabama.

Along the way, I considered what’s going on in both places because of the “financial crisis” we hear so much about these days. The words “bailout” and “rescue,” “credit freeze” and “economic crash” bounce around every newscast.

Of course, this involves numbers and that makes my head hurt. But since the Wall Street/financial institution problem sounds like something important, I’m trying to pay attention.

The more I hear about the issue the more confused I am about what and how this all happened. Then the reporters started talking about the cost to fix the mess and I heard $700 billion. That’s a lot of money.

My first thought was well let’s just give everyone in the world a billion dollars and solve the financial slowdown in a flash. Then with the help of a family member who is better at numbers than I am, I figured realized that would take far too much money — but it was fun to contemplate the idea.

That set me thinking about an alternate idea and I arrived at what I’m calling my “trickle up” plan. To understand how it works, first I needed to get a grasp of exactly how many dollars there are in one billion and the answer is $1,000 million equals $1 billion.

As I’ve said before, math is not my strong suit, but even with my limited ability I understand that if I have $1 billion I can give $1 million to 1,000 people.

So here is my plan. Instead of bailing out the guys at the top who made this mess, let’s start at the bottom and find a bunch of Americans who are responsible with their spending. Folks who work hard for the money they bring home, live within their means, pay their bills on time, and think sharing what they have with others is important.

Under my plan they must fall into the middle class and that means they make much less than $5 million a year, which is one definition I heard of middle class. Let’s say they make less than six figures a year.

I think we can find at least a couple hundred thousand of these people in this great country. Once we identify them, we divide the $700 billion amongst them and turn them loose to do with it whatever they like. Then we wait patiently for their good fortune to trickle up to the rest of us.

I know the success of this plan isn’t guaranteed, but from what I read neither are any of the others floating around Capital Hill. At least my “trickle up” is something different and probably has as much chance as the old “trickle down” theory — we’ve seen how well that works.

Sunday, when I was daydreaming about solving the economic woes of the world, I was not paying attention to what I was doing and I accidentally ate a lovebug, which brought me back to reality in a hurry.

Perhaps we need to feed a few lovebugs to politicians and see if they can find their way back to reality before buying a bunch of good old boiled peanuts is too expensive for us average Americans. And that would really be a sad thing because boy they surely taste good.