Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Great Rebate Debate Conundrum

I received the joke email posted below from a friend, and promptly passed it around to some of my friends, initially thinking it was pretty funny:

Dear friends and family,

The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate.
If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money will go to China .
If we spend it on gasoline it will go to the Arabs. If we purchase a computer it will go to India. If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico , Honduras , and Guatemala. If we purchase a good car it will go to Japan. If we purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy.

The only way to keep that money here at home is to buy prostitutes, beer and cigarettes, since these are the only products still produced in the US . Or you can send it all to me and I will be sure to put it back into our economy.

Thank you for your help.

But the more I thought about it, the more seriously I began taking it. It represents so much that is wrong with the U.S. today.

One of the first things I thought of is the Chinese proverb, "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day...teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." That this is "feeding" those of us who will receive rebate checks for a day, surely cannot be disputed. Worse, it's buying us off. it's a short-term feel-good sugar placebo that does nothing for us in the the long run, except put us further in debt.

Oh, you thought it really is a rebate, that we're being refunded money we sent in to the IRS? Silly you! Every cent we pay in taxes goes toward interest on the federal debt! We're making minimum payments on a maxed out credit card.That bring us to the next problem with the rebate.

If it's not a refund of tax dollars, then where's the money coming from? remember that Chinese proverb above? Well, proverbs aren't the only thing we're borrowing from the Chinese....Our government is taking us further into debt. Worse, as the email points out, most of us will probably spend it on electronics, or clothing, made in guessed it: China.

But, you're gonna get it, whether you agree with it philosophically, or not.

So.....what's a good way to spend the mastur.....oops, rebate that you're going to get, that doesn't include prostitutes, beer, and cigarettes? I'm glad you asked....

  • Buy local produce and food stuffs from a farmer's market in your area. After all, all economies will soon be local (what's left?), might as well support them now so they'll be there when your really need them;

  • Better still, rip up that worthless water guzzling lawn abomination and invest in a garden and start growing your own organic fruits and vegetables;

  • Put a down payment on a tankless on-demand hot water heater, so that when energy prices climb out of your reach, you'll still have hot water;]

  • If you don't already own one, buy a bike...maybe an American made motorized bike (okay, the engines aren't homegrown).....but how can you argue with 250 miles to the gallon?

  • Consciously choose to spend your dollars locally and in the US. Search out and find websites like - "There are 293 million people living in the United States. If each one would shift $20 a month in spending from foreign made products to American made products, that would create 5 million new jobs."

  • Want to save your rebate? Stashing your cash in a locally owned bank is one more great way to keep money circulating in your local economy and to support your local businesses and community endeavors.

  • In the new home Anyaa and I are building, we're going to put in greywater systems and composting toilets that turn human waste into an organic compost and usable soil,. Yeah, I know, but read about 'em,'s a crime to use drinking water to flush waste when people are dying because they don't have clean water.

My list took less than half an hour to develop. Perhaps you can turn me on to some of your ideas. Phew! I feel so much better!

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