A few friends of mine works on commission in jewelry store. The other night, one of them apparently had a bad shift, selling below what he normally does. This was no fault of his; few customers came by. What should be done to improve traffic is not clear, but anyone can tell you that paying my friend a higher base salary will change nothing. His payment is the reward for helping the business do well, not the source of it.
Why then does Paul Krugman continue to insist that low consumer spending is the chief problem with our economy? Like commission, consumer spending is a reward for growth, not its source. Like commission, its fall can be a sign of poor growth. And like anything else, you can't treat the problem by treating the symptoms. Any money sent to the American people is money either taken away from them as taxes, taken from investment as debt, or taken from everyone as inflation. To prescribe a stimulus plan is to prescribe magic, gambling our economy on ignoring the all-too-true adage, "There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."