Spend, spend, spend, spend

I’m going to keep this simple.

I’m no economist. If you wanted to know with dead certainty what stocks to pick, or not to pick, all you needed to do to become an instant success — except for a few lucky guesses on early Internet stocks — was to do exactly the opposite of me.

That disclosure made, all Americans know we’re in hard economic times. It’s easy to articulate the symptoms, but hard to know the cure. The smartest thing I’ve heard anyone say about it came last fall when Sen. Harry Reid criticized President Bush’s emergency “bailout” plan, saying: “No one knows what to do.”

Since then, of course, Harry and virtually all Democrats inside the Beltway miraculously experienced a post-election epiphany. Now they know exactly and with certainty what to do to fix the economy — spend, spend, spend and spend.

They may be right. Perhaps we must spend like a drunken Democrat to blunt this recession and, as is evident from the pork-a-thon “stimulus” bill, it matters not how we spend it. Saving endangered mice, battling sexually transmitted diseases, remodeling unneeded schools, or building bullet trains no one knew they wanted, the point is to spend like Chicagoans vote — early and often.

My worry is that this unprecedented deficit spending is the bad-judgment equivalent to that 70-year-old woman in Connecticut who kept a 200-pound chimpanzee as a house pet.

You know the story, I am sure. Sandra Herold raised Travis the chimp from a baby. Kept him for 14 years. Travis slept in Sandra’s bed, combed her hair and performed household chores.

Travis loved to watch the Yankees baseball team on television and, according to reports, Sandra fed Travis lobster, steak and Xanax-laced hot tea.

Then last week, Travis snapped. The once cute and useful chimp burst into a crazed rage. No one knows why. It might have been the Xanax, or lack thereof. Or, maybe he freaked out when Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez copped to steroid use. Who knows?

What we do know is that what happened next was nothing but pain and misery for all.

Travis terrorized the owner and then attacked a neighbor, biting off her hands and mauling her face. Sandra hit the chimp with a shovel and stabbed him with a kitchen knife, to no avail.

Finally, police arrived. Travis attacked them, too, pinning them inside a squad car before they shot and killed chimpzilla.

President Obama, his tax-cheatin’ financial guru and congressional acolytes such as Sen. Reid who only 90 days ago didn’t know what the hell to do, now claim they can tame the recession by spending the United States into a deep budget deficit, then pay for it by — drum roll, please — printing more money.

I may not be the smartest financial guy on the planet, but I feel like that’s a plan not too far off from sleeping with a 200-pound chimp. Economists smarter than me say the consequence of spend-n-print-o-nomics may keep the realities of the recession at bay for a while, but at the risk of fooling around with the long-term value of the dollar.

Controlled, the debt can be managed and then billed to the grandkids. It’s risky, but it can be done. But the slightest change or sudden move can cause the value of a dollar to go berserk.

And the next thing you know, just like the Travis incident, everybody’s in danger of getting his or her economic faces ripped off.

That’s as simple as I can make it.

Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@reviewjournal.com) is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media.

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