Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Spend it Right

By Dennis Hinkamp

We cannot be trusted with our own money. Someone should give us an allowance and ask for a receipt.

by Dennis Hinkamp. We cannot be trusted with our own money. Someone should give us an allowance and ask for receipts. Not the government but rather someone who is used to living on a budget-perhaps a single mother. Maybe in a few decades, if we prove we can act responsibly, we can go back to the free market system.

Giving us responsibility for our own money was like giving teenagers cell phones with unlimited minutes, photos and texting; we were so, so surprised that they used their new devices to text, flirt and distribute naked photos rather than using the phones for nature photography and sharing algorithms.

According to our Republican brethren, the bailout package is full of pork-on stuff like education, energy and health care. If that’s what passes for pork these days, I say, “Show me the porkers. Let the pigs run down main street and tip over all the trash cans looking for snacks. I’ll even let the oinkers sleep on my couch.”

Why can’t we just cut taxes in half and let people spend their own money? Because the economy is based on gross spending-and, frankly, we have been very gross. Shouldn’t there be at least a little difference if you spend your stimulus package on going back to school instead of on corn dogs and another TV?

Maybe we could buy a tool, go back to school, buy or grow vegetables, exercise, read something, fix something, create something – these are all ways to spend and consume but under the current system they hold the same economic value as eating Twinkies, downloading ring tones and paying people gargantuan sums to entertain us away from looking inward at our empty lives.

So, clearly we cannot be allowed to spend our own money the way we want to. Decades of decadence led to big houses, big box stores and big butts. It’s going to be painful but maybe people will have to stop making big ugly cars and vacuuming robots and direct their creative energy and money toward some things we really can use.

Maybe the American dream should be to have an advanced degree, be debt free and be able to fix stuff.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to remind consumers that we wouldn’t have to stimulate the economy now if we hadn’t gotten it drunk in the first place. He can be reached at


This article was originally published on March 30, 2009.