There's just something about that word -- stimulus. It sounds like the name of the Roman guy who forced the Christians out into the center of the Coliseum with a trident. "They don't seem to want to meet the lions. They need Stimulus!"
And, frankly, that's about what it amounts to in the current mess. The definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same dumb things, expecting different results. If government takes a trillion bucks out of the taxpayers' hands and gives it (minus their commission) to the same people who lost a trillion bucks, what do we expect them to do with the money? Use it smartly? Prudently? All of a sudden? Why start now?
Or -- here's a good one -- politicians giving it back to the taxpayers as a rebate. Can government save someone with blood transfusions (minus their commission) from himself? Why not just reduce taxes? Well, there's no government overhead charge in having people keep their own money. "Here's the IV hose, boys, just stick this end in his neck and the other end in his arm, and don't forget to siphon some of that off for tonight's party, Vlad." (The difference between a vampire and a Congressman is that while one's a fearsome, blood-sucking, undead parasite, the other one turns into a bat.)
I spoke not long ago, before the Obama inauguration, with the proprietor of a florist's shop (getting flowers for my wife, naturally), and she mentioned that it had been a good day for her, sales-wise, but a rough month. Then she brightly announced, "But I think things will improve when Obama takes over!"
Sometimes, I have enough self-discipline to avoid politics when talking with strangers. But this time she brought it up. I responded, "I don't think socialism is the right direction for our country."
It was clear from her facial expression that she didn't think running-dog capitalistic nay-saying was the right direction, either. But I was a paying customer, so instead of reporting me to the PC police, she said cheerfully, "Well, he's going to have some very smart people helping him make those important decisions!"
I hate to kill enthusiasm, but sometimes I feel it's my duty: "So did the Soviet Union. The greatest mathematicians and physicists in the world are Russian. Chess is their national sport. The problem with the Soviet Union wasn't that they didn't have enough smart people."
Her expression went from hopeful to grim. Mission accomplished. It's what I do. My card says, "Database Administrator -- Trombonist -- Professional Killjoy."
It's not the people, it's the system. Socialism rewards failure. Actually, it subsidizes cronies and political allies, and good performance does not need a subsidy.
On the other hand, capitalism rewards success, but, even more importantly, it punishes failure -- which is about the best we can hope for in this sinful, fallen society. In a free-market system, you can't just keep losing billions of dollars, whether on sub-prime loans, or half-baked e-businesses, or tulip farms -- sooner or later, someone stops you from losing even more money (usually your creditors and the sheriff). But as we are sucked more and more into the socialist vortex, what will be rewarded more and more is failure: failure to make solvent loans, failure to invest money wisely, failure to make cars that Americans want to buy. Highly politicized failure. Politicians make economic decisions not for economic but for political reasons. Always. And always for a fee.
It's like P.J. O'Rourke said: "Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." Whee. If you don't like their driving, stay off the sidewalk.
So here comes that Roman guy with his trident, and you know what it's aimed at. And now you know his name.