Stein: We Should Be Buying Stuff Like Mad

Contributer Ben Stein on "Sunday Morning"
The economy is not good; we all know that. But there is something we can do about it this holiday season, and it's not just to hunker down and wring our hands. So says our Contributor Ben Stein:

Okay. It's Christmas time.

We are in a recession. People are being laid off right and left. Homes are being foreclosed in huge numbers. Detroit is teetering on the brink of disaster. There is a wild, palpable fear running amok in the nation.

One of my best friends, a very successful engineer, told me her plan for the Christmas season was to spend as little money as possible. A number of my pals have said the same thing and retail sales bear it out.

People are planning not to spend. They're not spending.

This is not a good idea.

For those of us who still have our jobs, who still have a few nickels to rub together, we should be buying like mad.

Look, we're faced with John Maynard Keynes called "the paradox of thrift." If everyone is cheap and thrifty and doesn't spend, the economy slumps and everyone is poorer, not richer.

This really isn't rocket science. It's part of what caused the Great Depression.

So, for those of us who can still pay our mortgages, let's tip the doorman double, get cashmere sweaters and flat screen TV's for our kids, and trips to Palm Springs for our wives.

If we as a group (those of us who are still employed and have some money put aside) buy a lot this season, we could just kick-start this economy into a higher gear.

That would be a lot faster than the public works projects that Mr. Obama is talking about. We, our own little selves, could keep big retail chains in business and provide a lot of employment for sales clerks, just for starters.

Most of all, we can share with people and animals in need. When times get tough, donations to homeless shelters and animal shelters collapse. Those of us still able should really dig deep this Christmas and give all we can. That money doesn't get hoarded on Wall Street. It gets spent right now, helps the economy, and helps us feel as if we were slightly better people.

If we can afford it, now is not the time to zip up the wallet. Now is the time to get out there and buy something and keep our fellow Americans employed and our beloved animals fed. If we wait for the bureaucrats to do it, it will take too darned long. If we do it ourselves, it will get done.