Economic Action Plan
Filthylucre, Shalampax’s Minister of Finance, has developed an economic action plan that is a stroke of pure genius. No, let me stop myself right there. “Genius” doesn’t begin to describe its sagacity. Even “super-awesomely brilliant” would be damning it with faint praise.
What is truly amazing is that, despite the phenomenal value that it will generate, not just for Shalampax, but for the whole world, the entire plan consists of only the following five simple steps:
- Design, engineer and build two pairs of undersea railway tubes. One pair will allow for bi-directional railway traffic between Shalampax and the United States. The other pair will allow for bi-directional railway traffic between Shalampax and China.??
Due to ventilation issues in such a long undersea tube, the trains will have to use electric propulsion rather than diesel engines. The trains will also have to be fitted with air scrubbers for any human-inhabited cars.
??The optimal technology for this project would be magnetic levitation but, due to the high cost of maglev, we’ll use more conventional electric locomotives because we recognize need to make sacrifices in pursuit of fiscal restraint.
- Thanks to our religion and spam industries, Shalampax is the richest country in the world, both on an absolute and a per-capita basis. However, all of the country’s capital—both government and private—is tied up in overseas investments. Besides, as astronomical as our wealth is, it would still not be enough to finance this gargantuan project.
??Therefore, the Government of Shalampax will borrow all of the necessary funds from the world’s largest banks, the world’s medium sized banks, and the world’s small banks—i.e., all banks—as well as from other countries’ sovereign wealth funds. The government will use its worldwide holdings of wholly owned companies as collateral for these loans.
- Normal revenues will continue to flow into the government’s treasury while this program is ongoing. The government will use these funds to finance a guaranteed minimum annual income for all Shalampaxians.??
This plan will top-up the salary and wages of everyone who is not working for government employees earning less than $5-million per year. Those who make no income will receive the full $5-million.??
Government employees will have their salaries topped up to $10-million to ensure that the government will continue to have its pick of the most ingenious and productive employees, ingeniousness and productivity being rare commodities in Shalampax. This will also ensure that government employees will be able to continue to pay the healthy bribes required to get and keep their jobs.??
The payment of the guaranteed minimum annual income will not leave any residual government funds to finance the railway-tube project, but the social benefits for Shalampaxians will be well worth it.
- The government will quietly transfer all of its assets out of the companies used as collateral for its loans and into new, untouchable shell companies.
- The Government of Shalampax will then declare bankruptcy. The banks that are “too big to fail” will receive bailouts from other governments and, therefore, will not suffer greatly. The other banks will go out of business.
The tremendous value of this remarkable plan is obvious. Consider just the following small sampling of the benefits that will be achieved:
- In these perilous economic times, when troubles are lapping at all of our nations’ shores, this construction project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the fabrication of the tube components and railway infrastructure and in the on-site assembly of those components.
- Almost all of these jobs will be given to people from countries other than Shalampax. We shun all manual labor except that which is made necessary by our xenophobia-induced prohibition of any immigration into Shalampax.
??We let outsiders into our country for only short stays required to do on-island construction and window washing jobs. With the exception of the Shalampax landing points, the tube construction will clearly not meet that stipulation for temporary entry permits.??
To alleviate suffering in the world, we will give these jobs to people from the poorest of poor countries. This is a win-win scheme. The workers will gain much needed income. And, because they will be willing to work for near slave wages, Shalampax will be able to do much more work at a much lower cost, thereby allowing us to create yet more jobs.
- The section of the tubes will be closed at each end, making them water tight. As the sections are joined and the joints are made waterproof, the walls between the sections will be removed so that, when the tunnel is completed, trains will be able to pass through.??
The benefit of having the tubes empty of water throughout its construction is that workers will be allowed to bring their own bedding and camp-out in the unfinished tunnel. This will provide them with shelter that they might not have had before taking these jobs, while also helping to alleviate housing shortages in their home countries.
- The provision of food will be a problem, but workers will be encouraged to bring their own lunches to conserve their wages. Considering the extreme poverty they will have come from, one meal a day will be a luxury for many of them. In addition to the problems of food supply, the threat of water leaking into the unfinished tubes while the workers are sleeping in them is a danger, but these are risks that workers should be willing to take to reap the rewards.
- New technologies will have to be developed for these extraordinarily long, watertight, corrosion-proof railway tubes. (Due to the depth of the ocean in many segments of the route, tunneling will be economically, and possibly physically, unfeasible. Instead, we will have to use tubes that are suspended in the water somehow.) The Government of Shalampax will own this new intellectual property and charge huge royalties for its use, but the people of the whole world will benefit from the value provided by the new technologies.
- Guaranteed annual incomes will be paid to all Shalampaxians, right from birth. In the past, Shalampaxians have been chosen at random to be forced to try to have babies whenever necessary to maintain Shalampax’s ideal population size. Thanks to the guaranteed income, babies, which have until now been an anathema to all Shalampaxians, will become very popular due to their revenue potential. Space limitations force Shalampax to impose strict population limits, thus the government will be able to hold auctions for the limited number of baby licenses.
- The Shalampax government will be able to reduce taxes—or at least what passes for taxes here—probably to zero and, thereby, improve productivity. This tax slashing will be made possible in part due to the royalties the government will receive for other people’s use of our new technologies and the child-licensing auction revenue, but mostly due to the kickbacks that the government will receive under the table when it awards construction contracts.
- In the unlikely event that the tube-pairs and the associated railway infrastructure in one direction or the other or, better yet, in both directions are completed before bankruptcy shuts down the work, Shalampax will gain a much more reliable means to transport goods to the island than the current sea routes, which are rendered exceptionally hazardous by our perpetual mercilessly inclement weather.
??Because shipping will be more reliable, we will import more goods from the rest of the world, much of which we will actually pay for. This will serve to improve other countries’ economies. Furthermore, because we don’t manufacture anything here, the improved transportation links will not pose any threat to other countries from competition from our non-existent industries.
- It will be much easier for our spam and religion industries to launder hard currencies than is the case now. Enough said.
- Bailouts of the world’s “too big to fail” banks and bankruptcies of other banks will serve as a powerful, object lesson to governments around the world and to the entire financial community on the importance of prudent risk management. As current financial crises prove, this is a lesson that desperately needs to be learned. We are pleased to play our part in teaching it.
Just as an aside, I should mention that Filthylucre had considered touting the benefits of this economic action plan by buying expensive radio and television advertising and forcing all suppliers and contractors to post prominent signs at their manufacturing and construction sites. Filthylucre thought that this would boost Shalampax’s standing in the world, thereby lessening the tensions between Shalampax and other countries. He abandoned this idea when he realized that it would be a hopelessly frivolous waste of money.
Considering the enormous benefits, I’m confident that the whole world will get behind this important economic action plan.?