Consumers, arise -- and spend
There are only three things that can move us out of this recession. One is for industry to begin to make new capital investments, hire back people, and pick up production. This is obviously not going to happen with plants running at less than 70 percent of capacity.
Second is a massive government spending program. But the last Congress rejected a $5 billion program, so this is not likely to happen.
The third way is for consumers to increase their spending. This was obviously the intent of the tax-cut program and the effort to accelerate it to January 1983. It has not worked, however, because the extra money that was supposed to be in our paychecks due to the tax cut has been gobbled up by increases in social security taxes.
Since the third way is the only viable one, it is time for us the consumers to take charge and make it work. We must quit waiting for a spending incentive to come out of Washington. We must move forward on our own initiatives. We can't wait for the economy to improve. We are the economy.
Let me give you an example of what we can do. Consumer spending is currently at the rate of $2 trillion annually. Our work force is some 110 million. Now suppose we the people set ourselves to buy $50 billion more of goods and services in 1983 than we are currently planning. Dividing this number by 110 million, we come up with an average figure of $454 extra purchases or a 2.5 percent increase in our current spending rate. It will take 1 to 2 million more people employed to produce this $50 billion worth of goods and services. We will be putting our friends and neighbors back to work.
I term this sacrificial spending. About 90 percent of us are working. We have an obligation to the 10 percent who are not working. We must dig into our paychecks, our interest income, our piggy banks, and our savings. If we continue to sit on our hands and say, ''Well, maybe prices will go down and I'll wait awhile to buy,'' you can be sure they will go down. But by that time the economy may be so bad we may not have a job, there may not be any 90 percent of us that can pull the other 10 percent out of the mire. At such a critical time as this, we are being selfish to put off those purchases.
Instead, we should rise above this selfishness, to put the economic future of our country first, to put our shoulders to the wheel to get our country on the move again, to be the gasoline that will fuel the engine of progress. If we do this, then our friends who have been reemployed will be able to buy more and the snowball will begin to roll.
So, let's go out and buy those things that we have been waiting to buy. Let's spend with abandon. We're not throwing our money away, we're getting materials and services in return and we are also contributing to our future and our children's future.
We Americans understand that we produce our country's economic activity. If we believe things are going to get worse and act accordingly, they will get worse. If we believe things are going to get better and act accordingly, they will get better. The future is in our hands.