01/04/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bail Out The People: A Wild Idea Worth Taking Seriously

A recent article on reports that the bailout of the financial sector will be over 7.7 trillion dollars. That's $55,000 for every US taxpayer. Since, as conservatives like to remind us, the taxpayer knows better how to use money than the government, if we want a truly effective economic stimulus, let's give that money to the taxpayers.

This idea is not really so crazy -- it's just that it has never been tried. Let's try something new. How about a $55,000 loan, available to every taxpayer, amortized over thirty years? Charge one or two percent interest, so the government can make a profit over what it pays for Treasury bills. Consider it an investment in America. It's the people who are undercapitalized. Give the people a stake in America and see what they'll do. They'll build it, they'll educate it, they'll defend it and they'll make it safe.

Why throw good money after bad? Inventive and resourceful people, of which our country has plenty, can do a lot with $55,000. Some will save the money, which will solve the bank liquidity crisis. Some, of course will spend it or lose it at the racetrack. Either way, that's a great boon to business. But most will produce and invest, in themselves and in their friends. Companies will form, with the resources pooled into partnerships. Twenty people could found a bank, and if each of the founders brought in ten depositers of $10,000 each, the bank could easily loan out ten million dollars -- not bad for a neighborhood co-op just starting out.

The auto workers could tithe a tenth and buy the auto industry. Just firing the CEOs and selling their jets could fund 2000 new jobs immediately. The foremen could earn double the workers, the officers double the foremen -- it worked for Xenophon. And selecting the officers for a term of a year by lot from the pool of foremen could hardly be worse for the company, and probably much, much better.

Homeowners would stop losing their houses, and their creditors remain solvent. People could really start their own businesses. There would be jobs. It wouldn't matter what the stock market did, though there is nothing like optimism to turn bears into bulls.

What's really important when facing a depression? A job, a roof over your head, food on the table and some decent health care. Give the money to the people and they will make it happen. Do we believe in America or not? Or do we think that only bankers and mega-investors know what's good for us?

Stimulate the economy? Give the money to the people. Worried about deflation? Give money to the people. They will do amazing things. They will be inventive. They will be creative. They will produce durable goods of great beauty. They will create new and needed services (there is a lot of work that needs to be done).

Why do we want to save a system that has been squeezing and impoverishing the majority of Americans for thirty years? Let it fail. What are we trying to defend? A manic consumerism needing more and more landfills? Give the money to the people. They will work wonders. They know how. Give the money to the debtor -- then he can pay off his loan and you save both debtor and lender! Let the people solve America's problems. They'll do better than using the money to fly around in private jets to Caribbean retreats.

We could debate whether or not inventing ever more complex pyramid schemes to shave a new margin off of the future is even work. Why bail out such speculators? Give the money to the people who need it, to people who are ready to work. Let new companies form, new services, new ideas. Let there be more repair shops and fewer dumps. Let there be more quality and less schlock.

Dream on, you say. Yes, dream on, and here's a grubstake from your government, for which, for many ages, you and your ancestors have worked, fought, suffered, and died. Now the economy is in deep do-do. It needs help. Here's money. Be a responsible citizen. Do something. Make a dream come true.