The times, they have a-chang-ed.
The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the largest peaceful power grab by any government in human history) is a clear sign to anyone who hasn't been paying attention that the future is not what it once seemed. Changing times call for new, flexible survival plans. Today: surviving the ARRA (or, in shorthand, the stimulus act). How do you survive - no, thrive - in the changing economic climate of the ARRA?
Unfortunately, Congress was unable to read the bill before it was passed. This is understandable as legislators are very busy people with a lot on their plate. The economy is hurting and can't reasonably be expected to survive unless the smart folks in Washington give it a bunch of our children's money. Thank goodness the bill passed so expeditiously!
First, let's clear up some confusion about the size of the bill.
MYTH: The ARRA costs about $789,000,000,000.00 over 10 years.
That's absolutely true if you count all the government grants and nothing else. But the grants account for only a small portion of the bill - the bulk of it lies in "temporary" spending increases to critical government functions, mostly in health care. Temporary? What does that mean? Don't panic, these wonderful spending raises will never leave us. Temporary is just a word politicians use to say they'll hammer out the details later. Add the grants, temporary spending, and debt fees together, and you get:
FACT: The true cost of the ARRA is $3,270,000,000,000.00 over 10 years.
$2.527 trillion in spending + $744 billion in debt servicing = $3.27 trillion, or about $18,165 per taxpayer. That's a pretty hefty financial payload coming your way, but keep your shirt on. Follow our advice below and the ARRA will be the best thing that happened to your wallet since ... well, ever. You'll be eating caviar in your penthouse looking down at all the starving little people who didn't have ARRASPs.
MYTH: Bailout money is being given to people who will lose their jobs without it.
One of the most tragic misconceptions about the ARRA is that money is given out based on need/potential contribution to the economy. On the contrary! The ARRA is just like everything else in America - a payback. For every action, there is a reaction. For every contribution to the political power of the Democratic party, there is a line in the stimulus bill.
Consider the $950,000 being given to the militant Hispanic-rights group National Council of La Raza. Consider the $6.6 million being invested in researching a rare insect (the Formosan Subterranean Termite). Consider the $855,000 funding a new parking garage in Massachusetts. Consider the $1.9 million spent on a water taxi in Connecticut. Or the $2.9 million to build a bike trail in Illinois.
FACT: Bailout money is given to change the balance of power in Washington.
It's not about need, it's about political favors. Some people are getting all bent out of shape about that because they have unrealistic notions about how government works. It's time for them to wake up and look around. In the post-Obama world, the government is just another branch of the economy. In a few years, the economy will be just another branch of the government. Economic laws absolutely apply to government action. Political campaigns cost a lot of money, and campaign contributors need to be paid back! It's only fair. Not passing this bill would be highway robbery.
But we're not here to defend the impeccable ethics of the stimulus act. We're here to show you how to leverage it to your advantage. The renewable energy industry sank millions of dollars into the democratic party, and has been rewarded with more than four billion dollars in return. Now that's results!
And how do you do that? By becoming important to the balance of power in Washington. There are many ways of doing this. The simplest way is by becoming involved in the campaigns of liberal politicians in your area. Give them money, work "as a campaign volunteer" full-time, recruit everyone you know to help out and post campaign paraphernalia on every piece of real and personal property you own. Make sure the politician realizes how much he owes you big. Then when he gets elected, remind him about how your business could sure use help to survive in these harsh economic times (be sure to use that phrase: harsh economic times). If you don't have a business, start one. It doesn't have to be serious. Learn from the termite researchers and bike trail pavers of the past. Then skip and clap in glee when you get a check in the mail for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Worth it? You better believe it.
If you're rich enough (for example, if you've already done the above method), you can start buying campaign victories by founding a Political Action Committee (PAC) that isn't affiliated with a candidate. Give it a nice independent-sounding name like "American Taxpayer Coalition" (that name hasn't been taken yet - you don't have to thank us). Run saturation attack ads on the fiscal conservative(s) in the race and be sure to mention constantly that you are an independent watchdog organization that is in no way related to any of the candidates. The liberals who benefit won't forget your generous efforts.
As you climb the political pyramid, you'll start finding that people start coming to you for favors. Be sure to reward them generously to keep them coming back for more. Loyalty is everything. When you think you've amassed enough power, call in all your favors and run for office. Everyone who owes you (both up and down the pyramid) will come in and help you as you helped them.
From there, you can broker power directly by passing bills to help your supporters. Don't be shy about this: there are lots of other people bidding for power. You've got to be absolutely ruthless about handing out those taxpayer dollars if you want your people to stay loyal. Conservatives will whine about how corrupt you are because they're too naive to understand how government works. But fortunately, conservatives aren't in power anymore. You can see why. Make the powerful people happy and all of a sudden that eighteen grand (and the general well-being of the nation) will be peanuts.
As you can see, surviving in the ARRA isn't about running away from your troubles. You've got to work hard, be patient, and pay everyone for an honest day's work with taxpayer dollars. In short, you've got to live the New American Dream. The journey will not be easy, and there will be days you feel like just quitting and getting a normal job. Don't relent.
The political industry is the only one with a bright future in America. With a lot of effort and a little unyielding hope, that shining star of financial bounty can be reached by anyone.
Now isn't that inspiring?