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Brother Can You Spare a Dime

John Casebolt

Today at CSIS, the Scholl Chair in International Business hosted a roundtable discussion on the 838 billion dollar economic package approved by the Senate this afternoon. You can listen to highlights from the “Smart Stimulus” event here. I went to listen and left after a few minutes. Not because I was bored or uninterested. I left as a symbol of what is going on with many people in our nation today. We hear about the economic crisis and the stimulus plan, but we tune it out after a little introduction and without getting all the details.

After leaving, I went back to my desk and tuned into YouTube to listen to Bing Crosby sing Brother Can You Spare a Dime. I remember listening to this song on an old 78 rpm record at my grandmother’s as a boy. Today we face the worst global economic conditions since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The US national debt is at an all time high of over $10 trillion dollars. Since this morning’s discussion, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the Treasury’s financial recovery plan for the banking industry. This caused oil prices as well as the Dow Jones to fall.  The situation looks grim.

Meanwhile, I went to my local bank and bought a US savings bond. I didn’t buy it for the greatest return on my investment (I actually get 3 times as much interest with my savings account). I bought it for the nostalgia of owning part of the national debt.  If the government is going to borrow a few trillion dollars, I would like to see the American people give them a low interest loan. Let’s face it. It’s going to come from us, the tax payers, one way or the other. We either buy the government-backed securities and draw interest or pay the taxes and pay the interest to foreign investors. Our grandparents made it through the 1930s and we will make it through this recession if we all just pull together.

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