the bush money

That’s what we call it in my house. As in, “When the Bush money gets here, we can do (fill in the blank).” When I first heard that Congress passed legislation authorizing the rebate checks, I was ecstatic. Dreams of a sunny beach vacation for my family or a few new shirts from the Patagonia outlet danced in my head. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this money would be spent almost before it made it into my bank account. Unless I can somehow convert my ancient Accord’s engine to burn old socks for propulsion, I’ll be spending it on $4-a-gallon gas, and all the other bills that stem from this fact (food, electricity, water, heating oil, etc) The President has said that he’s simply giving Americans back “their own money,” but how can that be, when we are borrowing the money, probably from China, in the first place? There are some Buddhist organizations that I am fond of, and I would love to give a chunk of that money to them to help them build a stupa or make an addition to their meditation hall. I may still give $50 or $100 of “my own money” to these worthy causes. But the truth is that even though this is borrowed money, my family needs it too desperately to be able to give much of it away. We’ll use some of it to pay for our rather modest weekly vacation rental cottage on an island off the coast of Maine this summer, but other than that, we’ll pay bills, which is probably what most Americans will end up doing. Sorry, Ocean Palm Motel and Patagonia; I need to eat.

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