On the morning of February 9th while running stationary on my treadmill, I watched President Obama speak live from Elkhart Indiana where the unemployment rate is now over 15%. That evening I again saw the President live. This time he was addressing the nation about the need for his stimulus package. Later, propped up in my bed, this news junkie watched a show that compared the Great Depression to what is happening in our economy today.
The one thing that struck me, the one continually trumpeted common thread running through it all, was the urgent need to restore consumer confidence. In the great depression, people lost confidence in the banks and began to stuff their mattresses with any remaining cash and hoard it. With everyone hanging on to their money, businesses began to suffer and had to lay people off. As the unemployment rate increased more and more, people sat more firmly on their cash-stuffed mattresses and the vicious cycle continued. In the end, thirteen million people ended up unemployed. According to Wikipedia, that meant that 34 million people were members of families with no wage earner. Even though today’s unemployment figures do not compare with the greater than 25% unemployment rate of the Great Depression, where will we end up if consumer confidence is not restored?
President Obama said that a further erosion of confidence could lead us into deeper economic trouble and the stats testify to this truth. With every passing month, the number of people spending decreases and the amount of layoffs announced increases. Everyone knows that this stimulus package must restore consumer confidence because there just isn’t enough money to turn the economy around without it.
Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States in the midst of the Great Depression and expressed the same thoughts in his famous inaugural speech, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear… is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
I fell asleep with my mind awash with news flashes and facts but three hours later I was staring at the ceiling with my mind more focused on what was bothering me; the math! There’s almost 400 million people living in the United States and Canada. If 700 billion is injected into the US economy, that represents about $1,750.00 per person. If the government wrote checks to every man, woman and child for that amount, would it turn the economy around? More than likely not. Why? Because we’d put it in our proverbial mattresses until our confidence returned.
As I lay wide awake thinking, in the wee hours of the morning, another famous line from an inaugural speech pulled my thoughts in another direction. Nearing the end of his short, but legendary inaugural address, John F. Kennedy said, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
President Obama said that the only organization with enough resources to avert financial disaster is the government of the United States and that brought to my mind even more weighty and historic words, “We the people…” Less than $2,000.00 a person will not guarantee recovery but we the people can if we’re willing to pull together and ask what we can do for our economy and our children’s future.
Laying there, restless and wishing I could sleep, the words ‘Five Dollar Fridays’ repeated themselves over and over until they were etched in my brain and I quietly got up to write this post. What I’m about to propose is simple logic and even simpler math. However, I’m convinced that if enough people catch the vision, we the people, truly the only organization with enough resources, can avert disaster.
Why $5 bills? Because of several amazing coincidences that tie the $5 dollar bill to what we’re talking about.
In 1933, as an emergency response to the Great Depression, tons of money was printed and pumped into the American economy. A special $5 bill was introduced for the task.
The most recent version of the $5 bill began circulating on March 13, 2008 right around the time that this current recession reportedly started.
The President who appears stoic and unmoved on both of these versions of the $5 bill is Abraham Lincoln. A president who some would say led the people of the United States through the greatest internal struggle of it’s history, and most would say played a huge part in preparing the way for Barak Obama to be able to become President of the United States.
February 12th 2009, is the commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.
For all of the reasons stated above, I believe that we the people should step up, not relying on what the government can do for us, but what we can do for the country and flood the economy ourselves with this new $5 bill in celebration of President Lincoln’s birthday and use his bill to again fight the internal crisis we face.
If on this Friday and every successive Friday, every individual and family (in the US and Canada) heads out to the market place and spends just $5 (a symbol of the movement) per person, more than what they would have otherwise spent, 2 billion dollars will be injected into the economy in one day. We must not go into debt to do this, that’s a big part of how we got into this mess. Some won’t be able to afford even this, but in the spirit of community, those of us who can afford to spend more, could give more and also give to those around us who can’t so they can get involved.
If those who can afford to spend many $5 bills do spend more, we’ll easily quadruple our one day goal and 8 billion dollars will be injected directly into the blood stream of our economy.
What if businesses small and large were to get involved and help motivate everyone with $5 specials on ‘Five Dollar Fridays?’ We could inject even more cash and more consumer confidence. As an added bonus, Fridays would become a community day-out with everyone having fun while we’re all solving our crisis together.
No one knows how long it will take the economy to turn around and many doubt that trickling down $2,000 per person will help speed recovery in a huge way. However, everyone agrees that restored consumer confidence is what we need. If we celebrate a year of ‘Five Dollar Fridays’, as the excitement and ripple effect spreads, over 500 billion dollars will have been shot right into our local and national economies with probably a far greater economic impact than the 700 billion provided from the government, and all without incurring any further debt.
In President Barak Obama’s inaugural address he said, “For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.”
In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address he said this, “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”
This Friday, after a good night’s sleep, I’m going out with my family and a bunch of $5 bills and I’m going to do my part. Will you join me for the recovery party?
Yes WE can do this!
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out Teaching Your Child to Pray.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)