* Prefatory Note: This post is intended to be satirical.*
As an American citizen who loves his country and is concerned about its future, I’m proud to admit that I also love money. So much so that I spend hours a day pouring over financial news and sage commentary from our nation’s army of astute economists. Through my constant attention to this barrage of knowledge and, if I may say so myself, my own rather sagacious wealth management, I’ve come to see myself as somewhat of a financial guru. Not formally or professionally, of course, but what I’d humbly refer to as the armchair variety.
Acting in this capacity and spurred on by my love of country (as well as money), I’ve formulated–or, shall we say, distilled–from the global conversation about how to deal with our present economic woes a solution to the problem of poverty. My plan calls for cutting taxes, lowering wages, and slashing government spending.
The first thing to realize is that our real problems are structural in nature. In this regard, we in the developed world must learn from our prosperous friends in China. Even the communists have come to understand that you must pay your workers less than your competitors if you want to be competitive. What could be more fundamental to a healthy capitalist system than that?
This is why the advice from institutions like the U.S. Congress, the World Bank, and my good friends at PIMCO (rhetorically speaking, of course) are exactly right when they recommend that prosperity challenged regions in the developed world should cut their labor costs. If, to return to health and wealth, our citizens must tighten their belts and go to Walmart a little more often, then good medicine.
But I’ve taken the prescription even further. You see, in our post-modern era where we’re up against the likes of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the developed world has got to understand that poverty is a resource and not a detriment. Poverty isn’t something to be overcome or eliminated but rather used and embraced. What is the miracle of China if not wealth created out of poverty? Gold from lead as it were?
For Europe and America to return to competitiveness, they must, as our experts constantly recommend, find ways to cut labor costs and curtail government spending. The trick, of course, is to do it in a way that doesn’t derail the economy and reduce business’ profitability. Like the Chinese, we need access to a large pool of impoverished people who, despite this fact, can still pull their weight and support the economy.
We also need to drastically reduce government spending. The biggest areas, as we all know, are defense, Social Security, and health care. Yet defense must remain sacrosanct. Today more than ever, we still need protection, as we always have, from the hordes of people beyond our borders who hate and envy us. Who want to destroy our way of life. We must protect our people from those people. Our people must be able to work for the lowest possible pay in conditions of maximum safety.
It’s therefore logical to slash Social Security spending and government financed health care costs, like Medicaid and Medicare. So, in addition to cutting wages to the bone, I’d like to introduce you to my secret weapon in the war for prosperity: the cigarette. Yes, that’s right, the cigarette.
Cigarette smoking is a time-honored tradition rooted in our American heritage and handed down by our forebears. The way it was lambasted by liberals, like the Clintons, in the 1990’s was extremely unfortunate. The way it’s being taxed by our spendthrift government is downright un-American. I submit to you here and now that cigarettes are as American as guns and apple pie. They’re also, as I stated above, the solution to our economic problems.
We all know how much poor people love to smoke. For many, it’s a brief escape from the monotony of their jobs. A way to deal with stress and fatigue. You can probably even recall scenes of them clustered in groups during break times. Think how much better it was for everyone when poor people could smoke without being bothered with high taxes. Without being told it’s bad for their health.
Why not bring back the good old days? I say let the poor man spoke as much as he likes. Instead of taxing him to death, we could put a lot of extra money back in his pocket by eliminating cigarette taxes. President Obama’s so pleased about his payroll tax deduction, which only offers a measly grand or so. Think how much a three pack a day smoker would save if we cut cigarette taxes by 90%? Instead of paying $20 per day, he might only pay $3! That adds up to savings of $17 per day 365 days per year. Over $6,200 per year!
Now that’s what I call a stimulus plan. But wouldn’t higher cancer rates increase health care spending? Not necessarily. My plan would require that Medicare and/or Medicaid list smoking as a pre-existing condition for cancer. Let them smoke as much as they want. In the unfortunate event cancer develops, then no coverage. It’s as simple as that.
I can hear the bleeding hearts already complaining that it would be inhumane to let them die of cancer without treatment. Well, who said anything about no treatment? The pre-existing clause would allow those who fall under it to be treated with the latest in-home hospice care. That way, the dying would be able to spend their last days in the comfort of their own homes, blissfully sedated, and in the company of their loved ones.
Another brilliant feature of the plan involves the fact that many smokers will die prematurely. But just wait until you hear this. I think you’ll agree that this is efficient market-minded thinking at its best. If we increase the retirement age from 65 to 67 or even 70, statistics indicate that most smokers will hardly even need to receive Social Security payments. The benefits are obvious: more money going into Social Security and less going out. The same is true for Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, not only do we cut government spending, but we shore up America’s sinking entitlement programs for years to come.
Looking at my plan objectively, anyone but a fool or a liberal, can easily see how much sense it makes. In fact, I would even go so far to say that it’s an actuary’s wet dream. Cigarettes, a product so necessary to the lives of poor people, ensures that they work, reproduce, and terminate in ways that fully support prosperity. Now we can predict with greater certainty how much and for how long an entire population of people will tax government benefits. That is, how much they’ll draw from Social Security and Medicare over their lives.
Who would ever have thought that the solution to poverty and government spending could be so cleanly and efficiently solved? Through the salvation of cigarettes, the poor man can once again stand proud in the knowledge that he’s no longer a burden to his country but a contributor. A veritable resource if ever there was one.
There is just one final point I’d like to make. Call it the icing on the cake. In return for their patriotic contribution, I think it’s only fitting that we show our gratitude to poor people by rewarding them in some way. As long as an individual agrees to purchase an affordable life insurance policy that requires a minimum daily smoking regimen, then his estate would receive a portion of the amount spent on cigarettes over his life plus the prevailing rate of interest during the contract period. This represents the raw beauty and power of a truly market-based approach to solving society’s most pressing problems. Under my plan, everyone, even the poor man, benefits.