Spoofs & Satire



The government says your stimulus check will soon be in the mail, but when you finally receive it, should you invest it—or instead blow it on something the economy won’t ever forget?

This spring, many American taxpayers will likely be getting $600 checks from the U.S. government, part of an effort to stimulate the economy and stave off a downturn. A wise man would save or invest it. But that would nix the point of the whole affair, which is to get you to inject that money into the economy. In other words, you could invest it, but that would make you an America-hating communist. And they still keep a list of those, I hear.

So you better get injecting, and fast. But as fans of Brewster’s Millions know, it’s harder than it looks to spend spend spend such a windfall. Of course, you could spend it on things you’re supposed to need, like baby food, especially if you have a baby. But come on, that’s still pretty lame. Forty years from now, when your children ask you what you did with your cut of the Great American Cash Give-Away-Apalooza of 2008, do you want to have to tell them, “I spent it buying food for you?” How are you ever going to convince them of your non-square-itude?

Fortunately, there are ways you can blow your wad in a way only true-blue Americans know how. For example, you could:


Buy an oversized check made out to you, from Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson. Put it on your mantle and pour yourself some champagne. Sit back and bask in the fact that, as an average worker, you have momentarily closed the income gap between you and the top quartile by 0.0002 percent. Take that, fat cats. (N.B.: If you can’t afford actual champagne, mixing apple juice and seltzer water will do.)


At an estimated $120,000 an hour, hire Alan Greenspan to speak for approximately 22 seconds. This is just long enough to ask, “Mr. Greenspan, you held interest rates low for years, ignoring skyrocketing home prices and the increasingly shaky means, such as special investment vehicles, by which home mortgage risk was being managed. I mean, really, what the fuck?”


Buy a 600-thread-count, Egyptian-cotton T-shirt; emboss it in gold leaf with the words “THE ECONOMY WENT DOWN THE TOILET AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT.”


Buy a month’s supply of Viagra. The economy needs stimulation, so you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.


Go to the bank, exchange your check for 60,000 pennies. Fill your bathtub with the pennies, strip down, and swim around in it. If your wife/roommate/child catches you, crack wise about “keeping your assets liquid.” (And, by the way, some people do this with every check they get). (Also note: Wash pennies beforehand.)


Buy a $200 boombox and a $10 “Best of Johnny Paycheck” CD. Carry both into the boss’s office, play “Take This Job and Shove It.” When it hits you that the rebate is only $600, start whimpering.


Buy a plane ticket to Omaha; get the rest in cash. Wait for Warren Buffett to come out of his house. Grab him and rub your remaining bills on his forehead. Something good is bound to happen—the guy is made of money.


Splurge on plastic surgery. For $600, you could get a decent Botox injection. But why spend it all on one part of your face? With $200, you could get 1/20 of an eyebrow lift. I recommend nailing that spot right above your left eye, to give you that scheming look you’ve always wanted. For $300, you could get a pretty decent tuck on one of your eyelids. If they can tuck it under, so much the better. Blow the rest on collagen injections—and just for fun, let the nurse pick where!


Found a charitable organization. It doesn’t actually have to do anything. And with a $600 endowment, it probably won’t. But it will make you feel pretty righteous next to all those selfish pricks blowing their rebates on plastic surgery.


Pay off some of your bills. Just kidding! That would be lame. And totally un-American. Now get back to spending.


TMN Contributing Writer Clay Risen’s first attempt to build a website fell apart after he learned that risen.com had been bought by a hardcore Christian rock band. Clay is a senior staff editor at the New York Times and the author, most recently, of The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act. He lives in Brooklyn. More by Clay Risen