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Boost the economy, buy a light bulb

February 3, 2009

Rocky shares the following letter, which is partly based on Keynesian economic principles articulated in the Broken Window Parable of Frederic Bastiat from an 1850 essay:

Dear Fellow American:

Almost ten percent of us are unemployed, and the economy is a mess. The ninety percent of us that still have a job are scared, and we read about the government borrowing and spending trillions of dollars as a “stimulus” to the economy. That debt will either be a burden to our children, or it will be wiped out by an inflation that destroys the value of our savings even more.

We can do something that is good for us, good for the economy and good for our children. Buy a lightbulb! Buy a toothbrush! Buy some laundry detergent!

This is not a joke. Please allow me to explain.

We all use some of the following:
1. Lightbulbs
2. Toothpaste / toothbrush
3. Laundry detergent, soap, shampoo.
4. Razors, shaving cream
5. Plastic bags, aluminum foil
6. Kitchen glassware, forks, knives
7. Canned tuna, canned coffee
8. Batteries
9. Paperclips, staples, paper, pens
10. Blank computer CD’s

The money in our savings accounts are not earning any interest. So let’s spend some money on these things since we know that we will need them. Since they don’t ever spoil, let’s buy them NOW. Let’s buy enough so that we won’t need to buy more for the next year or two or three.

If every working American stocks up, there will be an immediate benefit to the economy. Factories that make them will stay open. Jobs will be saved. And if prices rise (which they probably will) over the next year or two, we will have saved money too. If you can find these items Made in America, even better. But it doesn’t really matter. We live in a global economy, and what’s good for the world is good for America.

March 1, 2009 is “Buy a light bulb day.” Please join us as we jump start the economy without the government’s involvement. Please share this message with your friends, family and co-workers.

Thank you for your time.

Brought to you by “BALBOA”
( Buy-A-Light-Bulb, Boost-America )

  1. Sam
    February 3, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I’ve instructed the wife to pull all cash from savings and head to CostCo. I guess it’s better than the $Trillion being proposed.

    Enjoy your blog immensely!

  2. February 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Rocky thanks you for stopping by, and is delighted that you enjoy the blog. He importantly notes, however, that he is long Walgreen’s stock, hence he implores you to call the wife and redirect her destination to Walgreens, rather than CostCo.

  3. February 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Rocky congratulations for a good idea but the savings accounts have disappeared. Does this make sense if people have to charge it on their credit cards and then pay interest? How about taking money out of retirement accounts to purchase these essentials? Does it not bring us back to the “broken window” fallacy?

  4. Sam
    February 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I will re-route her under one condition. Should your position be profitable you gift me some shares at the current price in an amount equal to what we are about to spend. I will forward the receipts over to you.

  5. February 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Rocky thanks Legacy Daily for his comments. He respectfully disagrees with the comment about savings accounts, however.
    “For more than 75 years, the FDIC has been protecting the money depositors put in banks. And in all that time, no one has every lost a penny of insured deposits.” See:

    As to the other questions, Rocky (with tongue in cheek) refers to the first sentence of:

  6. February 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    To Sam:
    Unlike the Sage of Omaha, Rocky does not immediately respond to investment proposals. Accordingly, he has retained a team of (otherwise unemployed) investment bankers to analyze your intriguing proposal. BALBOA (buy a lightbulb/boost america) is already having beneficent consequences for unemployment and the economy. ONE MAN REALLY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

  7. masteroftheuniverse
    February 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Time to go long light bulbs. Do they trade in quarters or eights or have they gone decimal?

    Have you found a good way to short light bulbs on March 1?


  8. February 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Jeff: It is precisely this sort of amoral wall street profiteering that created the current crisis.

    Rocky hears that a temporary ban on short-selling of light bulbs will be the likely policy response from the SEC.

  9. wiseguy
    February 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    This idea stinks. You should add underarm antiperspirant/deodorant to your list.

  10. masteroftheuniverse
    February 3, 2009 at 11:09 pm


    Exactly what kind of amoral wall street profiteering is acceptable?


  11. February 4, 2009 at 8:03 am


    Rocky, a deeply spiritual and moral person, does not fancy himself as an ethicist. Hence he looks to people such as Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton for guidance on ethics.

    From (censored) press reports:
    Clinton said that as many as 9 million children have inadequate lighting, and that good lighting is the RIGHT of every American. “Wall Street Fatcats who manipulate the price of lightbulbs, leaving innocent children in the dark, are a national disgrace,” Clinton said.

    She declined to comment on her speculative cattle trading, however.

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