In this blog a few days ago, we described the economic impact of a modest getaway for a family of four. The example shows how a thriving travel industry can offer a big boost to the nation's sputtering economy and the boost can be immediate. It can create jobs in every community and for people at every educational and skill level — from top executives to entry level dishwashers. One thing is certain, these jobs can never be outsourced to a foreign country. So, today I present a proposal for stimulating the American economy. I offer it free of charge as a patriotic service. I don't even expect the legislation to be named after me. So, send a link to this blog to your legislators and demand action. It's brief enough that they can actually read it before passing it.
A Proposal for Congress to Debate:
There are approximately 130,000,000 households in the United States. Providing each household with a stimulus check of $100 costs $13,000,000,000. Supplement the stimulus with an additional $50 for each person in addition to the head of the household. That would add approximately $8,900,000,000 making the program total $21,900,000,000. That looks like a huge number (and it is), but the American Recovery and Re-investment Act (the first stimulus) cost $727,000,000,000. The total annual budget is $3,500,000,000,000 so $21.9B is barely a rounding error. Here's the important part of this proposal: require that the funds be used within 6 months to travel on an overnight trip somewhere in the United States and include a stay in a hotel, motel, B&B, resort, rental unit or campground. Staying in the home of family or friends partially defeats the purpose. Whatever else you do is completely up to you. Do something expensive or do something free. Eat at fancy restaurants or get a $5 footlong at Subway. Stay on the go from morning till late at night or lounge around the pool all day. It's your choice. After all, this is still the land of the free.
The results will be numerous:
• The impact to the economy will be felt immediately since some of the kinds of services consumed during travel — lodging, dining, shopping, etc. — are cash businesses. Waiters, tour guides, cab drivers and others will go home with cash from their hard-earned tips in their pockets and believe me, they will spend it with enthusiasm further multiplying the impact.
• Knowing that an increase in visitation is likely, free market competition for the business will kick in. Hotels, restaurants and shops will be fixing up their properties and re-stocking their pantries and shelves with food and souvenirs. That will be welcome news to contractors and farmers.
• Destinations, resorts and attractions will all ramp up their advertising and communications to convince the traveling public to visit their little piece of paradise. They, in turn, will hire talented and proven firms (like ours!) to make sure the message is creative and compelling.
• The infusion of desperately needed state and local tax revenue will be practically immediate. When travelers stay in a hotel, dine in a restaurant or buy a souvenir they leave the tax money behind when they leave.
What's that? You naysayers think my plan doesn't stand a chance of ever being enacted. Too fraught with complications? Like the plan I describe in 150 words will be over 2000 pages long and filled with requirements of what is and is not an acceptable use of the money by the time Congress gets their hands on it. Maybe that's true. Here's a novel idea: Don't wait for government action or ask their permission. Just go on vacation. Consider it your duty. That's my real proposal.