Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Checks Are Here!

by Rod Shealy, Sr.

This is the week that our economy is supposed to start turning around.

Just in the nick of time, because I’m pretty sure I’m getting ready to start paying $4.00 a gallon for gas in the not-too-distant future, since I have to pump Premium when I fill up the Bat-Mobile. And, of course, when the price of gas goes sky-high, so does the price of everything else.

But this week, things will start getting better, because the first of the Federal Government’s Economic Stimulus checks will be arriving, with more coming every week for the next few months.

Lots of extra dough will be available for the spending. So… I want to take this opportunity to remind you again to help stimulate our LOCAL economy. (Consider this column a Public Service Announcement. I’m admitting my bias here, because I’m openly pulling for our local economy!)

A couple of months ago after we got the news about the economic stimulus package, I first suggested using your check to boost our own backyard by remembering the hundreds of smaller, local retailers and service-providers who are the backbone of our community. Actually, I found myself “sermonizing” a bit.

Well, this week, it’s time to re-hash that sermon, because the checks are here!

As I now understand it, many families will receive $600 or more, depending on the number of kids and other factors. It’s designed to pull America out of the “slow-down” which our economy has suffered. The government is giving you back your own money so you can spend it, and by spending it on your choice of goods or services, you are providing jobs and income for other Americans. That’s the way the economy works, except the part about the government giving you back your own money, which I won’t get into right now.

“Support those local businesses that support our community” is a theme I’ve harped on for years, and now, with the extra cash coming soon, I’m at it again.

When I pulled out my calculator to try to figure how much money would be coming back, I estimated that approximately $50 million of this money will be coming back to taxpayers in our small community… right here, our own community, where we live and work and read this weekly newspaper!!!

That amount of money -- $50 million -- if even partially spent with local merchants, professionals and other service-providers, will have an enormous impact on our community which will be felt for many years to come. For some small businesses, it could mean the difference between surviving and closing… which means, for many small business employees, it’s the difference between having a job and not having a job.

The giant multi-national chains have launched massive marketing plans to capture as much of that money as possible.

One large grocery chain, I’m informed, is offering a special gift card: If you use your check to buy a $300 card now, they’ll let you buy $310 or so worth of groceries with it later.

Other big corporations have their own schemes to get as much of your money as possible. I don’t fault them for it. I’m sure that their investors will profit handsomely, before sending on a share of our economic stimulus funds to the manufacturers of their products in China and beyond.

There is little question that Wall Street and China will benefit nicely from this infusion of our cash. So be it. The world IS flat, I guess.

But… I want to do my part to make sure that OUR little corner of the world also does okay. I want our community’s economy to be stimulated along with Wall Street and China! And I am especially interested in rewarding those struggling, smaller businesses who, despite their own challenges, always help support our community.

Before you spend your new money, ask yourself these questions about the business you’re spending it with:

Do they help support our community by sponsoring youth sports teams, band-boosters, and cheerleader camps? Do they participate in the local chamber of commerce or other civic organizations? Do they help underwrite the high school year books and sports program books with their advertising dollars?

Or do they simply take from the consumers in this community, without giving anything back? Are they really a part of our local economy, with local owners and well-paid employees, or do they just make all the profit they can, and then wire our money off each week to a home office a thousand miles away?

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a boundless, unrelenting optimist, full of patriotic fervor. As always, I’m pulling for America, and I’m confident that better days are ahead!

And while we’re saving the nation, I’m also unabashedly encouraging you to “Shop Local” in your own backyard community. Whether you’re using your extra check for a new car, new furniture, as part of a down-payment for a new house, to fix up your old house, or just pampering yourself with lots of smaller items or services, you should pay attention to make sure the company you’re spending with is a good-neighbor to our community.

And let’em know you’re pulling for them!

1 comment:

Amy said...

Ha Ha! Spend right...I put our $1200 in savings.

-THE Money Nazi