I’m not allowed to fix our economy.
And, frankly, that’s probably a good idea.
I have a pretty good understanding of macroeconomics and history; but once we get into the more finite details of capitalism, I admit to being a shoe that could use a little more polish. Call me naïve, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around things like derivatives, and companies that make billions of dollars but that don’t actually produce anything (like Bain Capital).
I prefer simple solutions: people and businesses working hard to create goods and offer services that benefit members of the public who want or need them. If I were allowed a voice in how to fix the economy, I would put my eggs in that basket rather than in the baskets of corporate bankers, insurance companies and venture capitalists who don’t actually produce anything tangible.
Still, the economy is where it is, and what it is. I have my ideas as to how to make it better, and you may have yours.
Nobel Prize-winning Economist and Professor Paul Krugman has his as well. He thinks we should gather together a community of scientists to sell the American public on the fake notion that an alien invasion is coming, and we need to spend money on infrastructure and civil defense—thus creating employment and more taxes to pull the government out of recession.
Obviously, Krugman’s idea crosses over into the realm of satire; but like all good satire, it’s not without its truths. The government did spend money creating jobs to ward off the Axis in WWII, resulting in an economic juggernaut. And, more recently, we had a tech boom in this country, partially spawned by the fears of the Y2K bug.
Remember the Y2K bug? Boy, that thing never quite made sense. People would try to explain it to me, but I could never quite wrap my head around why people thought a bank computer, or an electric grid, had the capacity to care what century it was; As if US Bank’s software was named Hal, and was at risk of donning a bowler hat and an “I HEART McKinley for President” button when its internal clock struck “1900.”
But that didn’t stop the tech boom. No sir-ee, Bob. How do I know? I worked for a “blossoming” website called Participate.com in mid-2000 (a company which, for reasons you will soon understand, no longer seems to exist). I was in the Sales and Marketing Division, and my job was to cold-call potential clients. The problem? I couldn’t really explain to them what it is we did there. I know we had clients like AT+T and IBM, but no one could ever really actually explain to me what we did past: “We set up online communities.”
But I didn’t really see a whole lot of that going on at that office. What I did see were a bunch of “every man for himself” Nerf-gun wars amongst the cubicles.
Like: I was given a Nerf pistol and had a hit-list of people who were unaware that I was even playing.
And whenever people give me the snarky “Must Be Nice” Speech about how teachers get summers off, I think of my time “working” 9-to-5 as a Nerf Hitman.
Still, there was something to be learned by Y2K, WWII, and from Krugman’s satircal idea about defending ourselves from an alien hoarde: America works well when our backs are against the wall. Our economy thrives under pressure. And, like a college student whose malaise and boredom threaten to plunge him into a lifestyle of laziness and obesity, we really need a panic-driven deadline to get things moving.
In 2008, I wrote a blog to friends and family about making the environment our national boogeyman. Back then, I thought, “This is our chance. We can come together over the environment. Even if you disagree that global warming exists—like Y2K, you can’t deny the boom in manufacturing and growth that it would spawn.”
Well, I didn’t know then that the GOP would go on a national crusade against fact and reality. Those were the Pre-Tea Party days, when the government was allowed to put their hands on our Medicare without Glenn Beck crying about it. Now it certainly seems unlikely that we’ll coalesce around green jobs and the environment as the birthplace of a new economic boom.
But I do have an idea that the GOP will get behind. It’s one they cannot deny, lest their evangelical base leave them quicker than you can say “Kardashian wedding”:
We tell them a flood is coming.
A big, super-duper, BIBLICAL flood.
And we need a boat.
In fact, we need lots of boats. Giant, massive, boats; Boats to hold everyone in the country, with extra room to put our pets on the roof. And we need to build these boats and hire people to navigate them in the coming flood.
We need carpenters, and engineers, and zoologists and marine biologists.
We need welders and crew members and horse whisperers and James Cameron.
We need to build ships to right the ship.
And we need to do it now. Now. NOW!
And once the boats are built, and the job boom fades, and there’s nothing left to do but wait for the end of the world, we’ll once again fade into a period of depression and recession, needing a new enemy to combat.
And that is when my army of Nerf Assassins will attack.