JWR Schticks and groans

Jewish World Review July 17, 2001 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5761

It's In The Mail

By Jill R. Jacobs

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THEY said it was on its way, but I've already checked the mail for the second time today and it wasn't there. I've been spending so much time lurking around the mailboxes, that the mailman thinks I have a crush on him. But I don't. It's much bigger than that.

In an effort to boost a sluggish economy, that nice man, The President, is sending me a check for $300.00, my slice of the recent 1.35 trillion tax cut. It's like winning the lottery without even buying a ticket. And according to recent news reports, the check is in the mail.

Initially, I was slightly conflicted about accepting the windfall, because poor people, the ones who could benefit from the money the most, will not be joining in the tax rebate party. Almost 30 million lower income Americans will be receiving reduced checks or no money at all.

But come on, not accepting the check won't change anything because it already has my name on it. And in an Eastern yin-yang kind of way, I guess it all balances out, because tax payers who have died, though no longer required to pay income taxes, will also be receiving a refund check if they filed during the year 2000. Well, obviously, they won't actually be, but their loved ones will.

In an effort to help the public better prepare for the arrival of their rebate checks, the administration spent 34 million dollars sending out notices to Americans informing them of the amount awarded.

So what if mine and about a half million other tax refund notices were incorrect, and the administration spent an additional exorbitant amount of money sending out corrected information? Cynics have been quick to point out that the government could have skipped the fanfare and self-congratulatory announcements about the refund checks and used the money to offer even greater tax relief to the people.

But that's not the point.

Americans needed to know how much money they will be receiving, so they know how much money they can spend. A windfall of this enormity requires careful planning.

Originally, I decided to use my rebate to pay my increasingly unmanageable electric bill, which has become an ongoing challenge to keep up with, especially during the warm summer months.

Coincidentally, Vice President Cheney is experiencing a similar crisis, though of a different magnitude, and has requested that The Navy pay his $186,000 a year electric bill as he has exceeded his allotted budget. (And I thought I was bad about leaving the lights on.)

I also considered using the cash to help my mother pay for her diabetes medication. Like many older Americans, she has experienced increased health problems, often requiring expensive medicine. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn't cover the cost of medications, which often leaves our seniors struggling with tough choices, too often between food or medicine.

But if you stop and think about it, obesity is a really big health problem, so indirectly, The President is just doing his part to help some Americans cut back on some extra calories and in turn, improve their overall health.

In addition to the 300 clams, I'm also receiving free advice about how to spend it as retailers scramble to create enticing advertising campaigns in an effort to woo me and other consumers, while offering discounts, promotions and sweepstakes just in time for the arrival of the first round of rebate checks.

Pizza Hut is offering a tax rebate pizza special for only $9.99 that's hard to refuse. Not only can I buy a pizza a week for the next seven months, but the extra toppings are free. It's a sweet deal.

Walmart offers consumers a chance to skip the bank and head directly to their store by inviting consumers to cash their refund checks right at the register, no purchase necessary. Walmart shoppers will also receive cash back for any unused portion of their rebate checks. While Walmart doesn't offer my personal favorite, the blue light special, a person could make a killing shopping there with 300 bucks. Ames department store is offering a similar check cashing incentive program, but even better, shoppers will get an additional ten percent off.

So shoppers, take your mark, and get ready to spend, spend, and spend some more. Because the more you spend, the bigger the boost to the ailing economy, (not to mention The President's declining approval ratings.)

In other words, it's not the time to tighten your belt, (particularly if you're going for the pizza special), but time to get out there and shop 'til you drop, or until you run out of money, whichever comes first.

So if you're a postal worker whose feeling a little uneasy about an increase of people who are breathing down your neck while you're delivering the mail, cut them some slack.

And if you're my postal worker, please stop winking at me. It's nothing personal. I just want my money, which is due to arrive in the mail any day now.

Jill Rachel Jacobs is a Manhattan-based writer and singer. Send your comments by clicking here.


07/11/01 The Name Game
05/18/01 Hold the pickle
04/27/01: Forever a "Rules Girl"?

©2001, Jill Rachel Jacobs