Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cash for Calypso: The Next and Ultimate Economic Stimulus?

Over the past 18 months, the U.S. federal government, in an effort to stimulate the economy, has given us, “Cash for Clunkers,” followed by “Cash for Appliances” and finally (?) “Cash for Caulking.” Why not create the ultimate in stimulus programs and match the European Union’s (EU) Calypso program. This ambitious program was intended to promote social tourism throughout the Continent. The Calypso program specifically targets the disabled, poor families, senior citizens and "youth," defined as people up to 30 years of age, to go on financially assisted holidays.

Armed with revenues from the Value Added Tax (VAT), devotees claim this Social Tourism program represents “An Opportunity to Overcome the Crisis?" The nearly bankrupt Spanish government has already assisted more than 1,000,000 senior citizens don Speedos and bikinis, or better yet, lose their tan lines on a “nude” beach in equally financially strapped Greece. Using specious economic models, the Spanish claim they get back €1.70 for every Euro spent. With such extravagant returns, the Spanish should send some of their travel vouchers to sun deprived Mid-Westerners. We would certainly benefit from the vitamin D and think of the injections to the Spanish Treasury.

In addition to creating a dubious economic program, the Europeans were ill-served by their marketing gurus. As you remember from your Edith Hamilton mythology primers, Calypso was a Greek sea goddess who was confined to the island of Ogygia by her Mother for supporting her father during the War of the Titans. Europe’s economic ideas should likewise be border bound. Borrowing Yuan from China makes a lot more sense than borrowing economic ideas from Europe. Wine YES—VAT--NO. Ernie Goss.

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