Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, February 04, 2021

For all the debate over whether or not last year’s Federal Economic Stimulus Payment tax rebate worked — and it did, if you define “worked” as a one-time spike in spending by lower-income recipients — it might be a good idea to deliver the next rebate in a form that ensures it will actually be spent, instead of socked away in savings:

What if we attached a string to tax rebates such that they MUST be spent? For example, give everyone the equivalent of a government “gift card” that can be redeemed at any store, but cannot be deposited? You could even attach a “buy american” benefit to the card - ie it is worth 25% more if you use it to buy products made in the US…

It might smell a bit too much of social engineering, but at least it would ensure that the money goes where we want it to go — back into the economy…

This actually makes sense. Converting a refund into cash effectively ends the intended purpose of disbursing that money back into the mainstream, i.e. flowing it back into the consumer economy. Once that check is cashed, the government is merely playing the percentages on how many people will use it the way it’s meant to be spent — a decidedly imprecise way to play. Putting it on plastic that must be spent to be redeemed takes the guesswork out of the tactic (disregarding the limited shadow market that would emerge in dealing those cards for cash or other goods).

And this wouldn’t be such an outlandish way to dole out government monies. Federal aid packages for various programs, especially for foreign aid, consist largely of goods/services credits instead of funds, precisely so Uncle Sam can ensure the final dispensation of that aid. A card-based stimulus payment would work the same way, with the same intended and measurable impact.

So look for the next tax giveback econo-juicing to come via card-swiping. That’s assuming that re-stimulating a spending-spree based economy makes any sense

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/04/2021 03:08pm
Category: Business, Politics, Society
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Some people in bloggerland are devoting their downsized-delivered downtime toward increased time in the gym.

Funny, because that same thought had crossed my mind nearly a year ago, when I found myself with a significant chunk of extra time after wrapping things up with a major client. I had enough money to basically coast for a little while (this was before the recession hit the fan), and figured, since my chief excuse against regularly working out was lack of time, that this was an ideal window in which to do some personal body work.

I never did get around to it. I found out that my innate resistance to physical exercise was stronger than the pull of filling a time vacuum.

Maybe the notion will take hold when I’m truly unemployed, versus underemployed. Because that seems to be the crucial determinant for spurring people onto the healthclub treadmill:

…Ever noticed that your friend who is laid off seems to be using some of his downtime to grow abs of steel? Declining work hours, hypothesizes [University of North Carolina-Greensboro economics professor Christopher] Ruhm, may give us more time to get to the gym or to shop for food rather than ordering take-out or buying prepared meals. Even those of us who still have our jobs might not need to work as hard or as long when business is slower, giving us more time and energy to spend on healthier activities. “I’m not saying this is universally true,” Ruhm says. “It’s not to say some people aren’t incredibly despondent and can’t get out of bed.”

Economically-triggered despondency? That sounds like a solid start to a crash 51-pound-shedding Unemployment Diet. Combine that with the extra gym time, and your body-fat index will soon resemble the economy’s growth rate.

At least all this economic turbulence will result in an overdue wave of improved physical fitness. It’ll balance out the deteriorating mental health outlook, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/04/2021 11:18am
Category: Business, Science, Society
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