Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't ape the Fed

My friends over at the Technology Liberation Front have an excellent list of local projects that mayors are putting on their wishlists (from the WSJ) under the serious-sounding "infrastructure" spending that Obama is promising.

You and I may think of nuclear energy plants and an updated energy grid when we hear "infrastructure" - things we desperately need for national security and resources for the future. Some of our nation's mayors apparently hear "fat federal checks for that new tennis center I've been wanting!"

So while Americans spend less and save more in response to economic changes, our government opens the spending spigot to full blast.

Our paternalist federal legislators should simply and firmly say "no" to these silly Santa letters asking for ponies. They probably won't. But we can take a personal lesson from it and consider alternatives to our own sugarplum fairy dreams - or our high-spending habits - and put the savings difference into our money market accounts:

1. Don't buy the new car- go to CarMax and get one that's 4 years old.

2. Brew it yourself - get up 20 minutes earlier and feed your addiction in a real mug for about $.30 (if you bought a pound of beans) instead of paying $3 for the same amount at the store served in landfill material. Those coffeehouse stops add up shockingly high.

3. Become a saavier shopper - spend your monthly clothing allowance at places like and SmartBargains and save a boatload - or get twice as much for the same amount you'd spend in most stores.

4. Drink at home - stock up on beer from the grocery store and invite people over to enjoy your company in the comfort of your home. It's less loud and crowded and you'll spend as much on an entire six pack as you would have on your first beer at the bar.

Our own fiscal discipline can do more for an economic recovery than any silly public project.

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