Don’t worry, I won’t bum y’all out with this…

So, we are coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the Stimulus bill. To me, understanding the stimulus requires looking back even further, and it is a story of addiction.

It’s been nearly two decades or so since the major tobacco companies lost a huge class action suit. The money was to be administered by the various states that had been the complainants in the suit. And the ruling said that the money had to be used to fund medical costs related to smoking. It started with Public Service Announcements. Then elevating to health care costs related to smoking.

Well, the states felt they’d never properly use the hundreds of billions of dollars on that, but at the same time many states were drowning in red ink elsewhere in their books.

It didn’t take them long to get the slush fund working. Decrease state payments to medical, increase tobacco money to offset, then shift that state money to somewhere else.

Excellent! They get to use all that tobacco money and don’t have to reign in their spending anywhere else. But damn, the tobacco money didn’t last forever. And suddenly states were needing to re-fund medical while wanting to continue to grow (indulge) spending elsewhere.

A new fix was needed. And along came the Stimulus. So much money was allocated at the federal level to create jobs. And the feds allowed the states to administer their shares because ‘they knew best what they needed.’ Unfortunately, what they needed was a new way to feed their addiction, so the stimulus became the new slush fund. And when each year’s allotment of money was gone, unemployment was, shockingly, no better than it had been before.

Well, clearly, the panderists screamed, we just didn’t devote enough money to solve the problem. Hand out more money! And more. And more. And still no real long-term jobs are created. But we’re not supposed to notice that.

So let’s celebrate the anniversary of the Stimulus.

Let’s celebrate by remembering just how successful it wasn’t.

Let’s celebrate with the sort of attention addiction needs: tough love.

Let’s celebrate by going to a meeting, standing up and saying, ‘My name is America. And I’m a spending addict. It’s been 1 day since I last increased spending on a program that wasn’t working.’

Let’s do it. One day at a time.

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