What You Personally Can Do About the Federal Deficit

THERE ARE ECONOMISTS who say, “Hey, don’t worry about it. It’s not, you know, money, as you know it.”

There are economists who say, “It will mean—unless real, drastic, structural steps are taken by next fiscal Thursday—that Arabs will own your grandchildren.”

All I know is, it is $200 billion. Or $175 billion. Around in there. And it is America’s. Which means it is mine.

And I am not going to just sit here.

I am going to think of something the individual American citizen can do to reduce it.

Here is what I have thought of:

Buy stamps and throw them away.

If you go to your local post office and try to give the person at the window $20 and ask him to forward it on up to the person in charge of balancing the federal books, he will be nonplussed. If, however, you buy a roll of twenty-cent stamps and throw them away, you will have pumped $20 into the federal government without requiring it to do anything except print those stamps and sell them to you. The federal government comes out, I don’t know, $19.40 ahead. And no one is hurt.

Another thing you might do is travel to Russia, find a Soviet citizen willing to pair off with you, and send to the Department of Defense an affidavit signed by you and that Soviet citizen (call her Olga Petrov) to the effect that the two of you have declared a mutual non-aggression pact and therefore you authorize the federal government to reduce military outlays by whatever it costs to defend you against Olga Petrov. But that would take something out of the pockets of people who happen to be employed by our military-industrial complex.

Throwing away stamps doesn’t hurt anyone. Mailmen are not deprived of any business, because you are still sending the same amount of mail. In point of fact, the stamp-production complex makes more money—so that all the people employed by it can better afford to buy stamps and throw them away. You see how this thing—anti-philately, we might call it—could gather momentum.

Okay. It bothers you to buy anything and throw it away. I can understand that. So here is a fallback position: Put twenty-cent stamps on postcards. An extra seven cents to the federal government on each postcard mailed. It adds up.

Or you can do this: You can leave a roll of twenty-cent stamps on your window - sill with the window open, allowing sudden rainfall to stick the whole roll together.

That is what I did recently. And I saw the downside of it. I tried to peel the roll apart. I produced stamp clumps, stamp ghosts, stamp shreds.

What a stupid, wasteful thing to do! Was I hacked off.

But then I looked at the upside. I had reduced the federal deficit.

You see how ideas like this are born?