“And the survey says …”

According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, which polled 8,347 customers from April 29th to May 7th, consumers have changed their minds about how they’ll be spending their tax rebate checks. A poll was taken soon after H.R. 5140 was enacted in February, and the responses to the later poll differ from the responses given earlier. H.R. 5140, of course, is the bone known (and thrown) as the Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008.

H.R. 5140 is the generous-sounding $ 152 billion measure aimed at providing tax rebate checks of up to $ 600 per working individual and $ 1,200 per married couple, plus $ 300 per child for families with children and (get this) new tax incentives for job-creating business investments.

The latest survey by the NRF, however, found that 17.2 million people plan to use some of their tax rebate money to pay for gasoline, up from the 12.1 million who planned to do so in February. The survey also showed that 21.2 million people will use part of the rebate check to purchase food, up from 20.4 million in February’s survey.

The recent survey also showed that fewer people plan to spend rebate checks to buy furniture (2.7 million versus 4 million in February), purchase a vehicle (2.4 million versus 3.2 million in February) or use it for personal items and discretionary spending (2.9 million versus 3.5 million in February).
This amounts to solid evidence that U.S. consumers are losing more and more purchasing power and that officials in major U.S. container ports are hallucinating.

“The rising cost of groceries and gasoline means that discretionary spending is taking a back seat to necessities,” said NRF Chief Executive Officer Tracy Mullin. “For many consumers, struggling with rising bills and lowering home values, economic stimulus checks could not come at a better time.”

$ 152 billion sounds like a lot of money, right? Well, it’s peanuts compared to what’s being diverted to “defense-related” projects and programs. In spite of the fact that the officially published defense budget totals “just” a few hundred billion dollars, it’s no longer a secret that $ 1.1 trillion is being spent annually on our overseas military adventures. Nor is it a secret any longer that because the U.S. military has established more than 750 bases in more than 130 foreign countries, most of this $ 1.1 trillion is an “economic stimulus” for the citizens of foreign countries. [And didn’t we shut down dozens of our military bases in this country last year? And eliminate thousands and thousands of jobs as a result?]

Ever see dominos collapsing? That’s what we’re seeing now. By shuttering our shipyards and factories, we’ve sent all our jobs overseas. Foreign-made vessels are now delivering foreign-made goods to us, and because our unemployment rate has steadily increased (we shut down our factories and shipyards, remember) the nation’s consumers have lost their buying power along with their jobs.

Think about it. We need an economic miracle like the one we pulled off during WW II … when we had shipyards and manufacturing facilities to fall back on. It’s the only way out of this mess.