It’s Not ‘Stimulus.’ It’s Life Support.

Hello fellow Omphaloskeptics,

Since we’re just talking among friends—by which I mean Dispatch Members in Full, and the several imaginary friends in the car with me as I smoke a cigar and bang out a Wodin’s Day correspondence—I’m gonna try to do this notebook style. I don’t mean The Notebook style, with James Garner reading it to you, with flashbacks to rain-soaked Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams rejecting social distancing in the 1940s. I mean I’m going to drop a few observations with only stylistic sinew connecting them.

Today’s Morning Dispatch began, “Wake up and smell the stimulus: Trump, Schumer, McConnell, and Joe Manchin all finally have a $2 trillion deal they can all live with…”

I grimaced at this when I read it. Not because I’m against the legislation, though I have my concerns. I grimaced because I meant to say something to my colleagues about the word “stimulus.” This isn’t a stimulus bill, it’s a life-support bill. It’s the difference between cocaine and oxygen, or between a shot of adrenaline and a blood transfusion. I think it was Larry Summers who first compared what we’re doing to putting the economy in a medically induced coma. Induced comas—if I know my medical TV-drama lingo—are sometimes necessary to protect the brain from certain threats. But there’s no point in inducing a coma if you don’t keep the person on life support in some way. 

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