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Trillions of dollars from nowhere

In the United States, the biggest scam is not the one that comes in the mail


I have learned to be wary and sometimes even rude in my response to the special offers that flood my mailbox, the internet, and the phone line. But when a purportedly personalized letter from President Joe Biden arrived, it didn’t even cross my mind that there might be something nefarious and slippery going on.

“I am pleased to inform you,” the letter (dated April 23) said, “that because of the American Rescue Plan a direct payment of $2,800 was issued to you by direct deposit.”

This is legitimate, I thought. After all, the news media had been full for several days about the administration’s zeal to fill the checkbooks of millions of Americans with hundreds of billions of dollars in government support. I didn’t like the program—not at all. Nor were Carol and I in what might be called a “needy” category. But if my rejecting the payment meant that the next family down the street would get our $2,800 and be free to spend it on whatever they wanted, well, that didn’t seem right either.

The real crime or ethical breach may be the one that’s taken place right out in the open.

There was at least one other issue. The letter from the White House said plainly: “If you haven’t received your payment within 7 days of receiving this letter, please check the status of the payment by visiting the IRS website or calling the IRS phone number listed at the bottom of this letter.” It had already been 11 days—and no money had found its way to my account.

Then an already complex scenario turned a bit knotty. I was talking with one of my married daughters. “Dad,” she said, “this sounds like a scam to me. Didn’t you say they asked you to call an 800 number? I hope you didn’t give them any bank account numbers!”

I hadn’t. But Alice is a savvy observer in such matters, so I dropped what I was doing and retrieved the White House “letter” to double check my first impressions. This time through, every word and phrase carried a slightly different nuance. What if, I wondered, this was a subtle trap?

In the end, however—at least as of this writing in mid-May—the Biden letter seems to be genuine in its intent. Its senders meant to send me $2,800. Their system just wasn’t quite up to their promise. But there was apparently no crime involved.

Meanwhile, the real crime or ethical breach may be the one that’s taken place right out in the open. The scam we may live with the longest is the anything-but-quiet transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars from a virtually unknown source into the bank accounts of accepting citizens like ourselves. With our massive level of national debt, where do those dollars come from?

This started sometime last year when former President Donald Trump authorized the first two “stimulus” packages to counter the sobering economic effects of COVID-19—the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and then its $900 billion December follow-up. The effort accelerated when new president Joseph Biden, trying to make good on his campaign promises, added his support to the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”

When it comes to this kind of spending, the political label doesn’t seem to matter. Republican or Democrat—who’s going to say, “Stop! You can’t put that money in my account! It’s phony money!”


Joel Belz Joel is WORLD's founder. He contributes regular commentary for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Radio. Joel has served as editor, publisher, and CEO over three decades at WORLD and is the author of Consider These Things. Joel resides with his wife, Carol, near Asheville, N.C.

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OldMike

We got ours too, with no inquiry at all as to whether we are in “need.” But we ARE all paying it back! Every trip to the grocery store, the gas pump, the home improvement store, we pay back some of that free money for stuff that has increased in price in the past 14 months. And the price increases will remain after the “free” money has long been spent.

And CROB3561, praying for you and your family in your employment situation!

mrbobmac

I chuckled when I got the letter from Mr. Biden, as I did when I got a very similar letter from Mr. Trump. The humorous aspect of Mr. Biden's letter is that it came at least six weeks *after* the money had been deposited into our account. Like Joel and others who have written here, we felt no need for the money. So we put it into our retirement fund because I have a sneaking suspicion I will need to give it back someday... not directly (like a retraction), but indirectly through increased taxes or the like.

FIMIKI

It's terrifying how modern monetary theory is beginning to be taken seriously by many on the left. Of course, who wouldn't like an idea that gives you permission to print as much cash to fund whatever program you like? MMT is to economics as the latest perpetual motion machine is to physics; plausible enough to deceive but fundamentally flawed.

CROB3561

I wondered about the "free" money promised in the letter myself. I tried contacting the IRS but got pushed into a situation where I would have to reveal information that I did not feel comfortable giving out.
Today I was fired and I am supporting a wife and two handicapped adults, so I can use the money. I just wondered what other people thought about the promise of money and then the failure to deliver it. I also am painfully reminded of the stagflation of the Ford- Carter era and do not want a repeat of it.

My Two Cents

Every pandemic program designed to help those who were hurting economically, required an application: unemployment, PPP, loans and grants to small businesses, etc. But the stimulus money just keeps coming. Why not require those who think they need it, apply for it? Heaven knows there is so much additional bureaucracy created already, that what's a bit more? We paid back our stimulus money in the form of "tax owed." Our new college graduate, who was still our dependent in 2020, didn't qualify for diddly squat. He supported himself by driving for a food delivery company, and working as an independent contractor. He owed a HUGE amount of self-employment tax, because he didn't qualify for the enhanced tax-free unemployment. So, we have an economy that says here's a bunch of free money for nothing. And, if you work and earn money the old fashioned way, send it in. All of it.