Country could use stimulation — or new TV

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be stimulated.

Back in December the living room television began experiencing problems — a little wavy band at the top of the screen. Soon it got worse and eventually the band thickened to take up nearly the top fourth of the screen. The only huge inconvenience was the scoreboard and clock that runs at the top of the screen during football games.

We hated to replace the TV, especially since it was only about three years old, so we toughed it out and figured we’d replace it sometime in 2008.

When President Bush announced the economy had him worried last month and he intended to ask for an economic stimulus package, visions of a new high definition LCD television began to dance in our heads. We began looking over the deals and researching the brands.

When the Democrats tried adding a little extra into the bill and the Republicans blocked it we suddenly felt very unstimulated.

Now that we have a bill and a promise from the president to sign it, we’re starting to shop again.

It seems a little silly that we hand our money over to the government then feel like they’ve blessed us with a wonderful gift when they give a little bit of it back. Sure I know the economists have all been telling us we’re headed into a recession, but it smells a lot more to me like we’re headed into an election year.

Assuming you paid income tax last year, and didn’t make over $75,0000 individually or $150,000 as a couple, you can expect $600 or $1,200 for a couple.

My shopping research reveals that amount should buy a 42-inch LCD HDTV set with 1080i resolution, whatever all that code means.

My dilemma here is this — apparently most, if not all, televisions these days are built outside the country, so I’m worried that I might not be applying full stimulation to the economy.

Maybe I should just eat steak at a nice restaurant twice a day until the money’s gone. Beef is mostly domestic and a good tip to the waitstaff would certainly be a stimulus.

I could put it into a project around the house, but I’m too busy to do the work myself and there’s not enough there to hire it done.

I could take a trip, but that would require taking time off from the job and buying gasoline that is imported.

No, what I really need is a television. I just won’t tell the president that I probably would have been forced to purchase one anyway and would have had to take it out of savings.

It would be nice to give the government a little bit less and all of us to learn to save until we have enough for a new television or a new car. Instead, too many people have fallen prey to the easy availability of credit.

Credit cards are maxed out in households across the country. People have used home equity to take vacations or to pay those high interest credit cards off just to survive. Mortgage companies got sloppy looking for higher and higher numbers and we have something called a sub-prime lending crisis escorting us into this possible recession.

We’ve gotten ourselves into a real mess and finally the politicians have recognized that if they don’t show the proper concern for the struggling middle class the whole lot of Congress could be out on their backsides.

I say while we’ve got their attention, let’s not stop with stimulating the economy. Let’s use this heated political season as an opportunity to draw attention to our real plight — it’s darn tough to afford a television as big as you would like.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: