What is it about the smell of gruel in the morning? Despite its nasty appearance, blunt odor and dull taste, we are desperate enough to ask for more.
Take heart good Americans, help is on its way. The checks, as they say, are in the mail. The great promise of prosperity – a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage – is closer than ever of being realized.
But here’s the thing: consumer confidence is lower than low right now, partly due to worries about jobs, the economy and the price of goods (gas in particular), and partly because there is no reason to have any confidence. And it makes me wonder, will a rebate of a few hundred dollars really make us feel better?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a true blue (and red and white) American who pays his taxes above and beyond anything that even resembles “reasonable.” But I absolutely have to state the obvious: the government is giving back money it took from me. In other words, it was my money, the government took a bunch of it and now the government is giving back a small portion f it. Not all of it, just some.
And by the way, it’s not like the money was being used wisely or anything. No health insurance for millions of Americans, an education system that ranks well below dozens of other countries, fewer and fewer jobs, a war that is costing billions and billions… the list goes on and on.
But what does all this have to do with markeTING? Glad you asked.
As you may have noticed, the economy is flagging. Uncle Sam noticed it too and set a marketing/business objective to stimulate the economy. His selected strategy? Dole out $110 billion to 130 million taxpayers with the hope that they will spend, spend, spend.
Now I am not a financial guy. In fact, you might fairly portray me as a financial incompetent (I am not proud of this, I am simply honest.). But I get the sense that most American who will qualify for their $300 or $600 or $1,200 check have already accumulated debt far beyond the value of the check. What is the equivalent? An overdue utility bill, a late car payment, a child’s unpaid tuition?
Somehow, I am not seeing a family of four jetting of to Disneyworld, or even taking the regional transit to the ballpark. Like I said, I am not a financial guy, but it seems like this plan can only work if those who get the money spend it in a way that it changes the mood of the nation. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “good luck with all that.”
According to Lynn Franco, director of consumer research at the Conference Board (these are the guys who establish the Consumer Confidence Index), “consumers’ outlook for the economy, the job market and their income prospects remains quite pessimistic. In other words, the glass remains half empty.”
Economies waiver, times change, things work out… even Herbert Hoover knew that. But maybe Uncle Sam (are the presidential candidates listening?) needs to rethink its markeTING approach. Consider the advice of Winston Churchill who once suggested that if the human race wants to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, “they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.”