By Ben Kleppinger

Americans don’t really shop enough. If there is one thing we should do more of, it is shopping. In fact, shopping times are so tough, the U.S. government is putting together a massive tax package, worth $150 billion in all, trying to stop a potential economic recession.Everyone who gets a paycheck is probably going to get a $300, or maybe even a $600, rebate. If you have children, you are going to receive even more. The hope is everyone will go out and spend their rebate on stuff they don’t really need, and thus stimulate the economy.

Forget about the recent record number of house foreclosures and nauseating amounts of uncontrolled personal and national debt; it’s shopping time!

Maybe we should be less concerned with avoiding a mildly tight financial year and just be happy we have a financial year at all – a luxury some Palestinians in Gaza only recently regained.

Due to an Israeli economic blockade, Palestinians had gone without easy access to food, fuel and other goods for seven months. It was like Richmond without Wal-Mart, E.W. James, Kroger, Hastings, the mall or roads to Lexington.

But on Jan. 23, Hamas used welding torches and explosives to tear down a wall between Gaza and Egypt. Egypt was instantly inundated with thousands and thousands of Palestinians and their pockets were stuffed with money they had not been able to spend for seven months.

Egypt allowed the Palestinians to cross the border unimpeded, and consequently, Egyptian marketplaces turned a nice profit off the necessity-starved masses. News outlets around the world reported on the surreal shopping spree.

If we really want to stimulate our economy, maybe we should quit sending so much of our money to Israel, a country willing to starve thousands of fellow human beings because of their religious affiliation.

Or maybe we could provide more tax cuts by not spending all our money perpetuating the war in Iraq. If the U.S. government cut the cord on Iraq, there would be enough money to stimulate our economy and feed the Palestinians.

I think the U.S. could learn some lessons from the recent events in Gaza and Egypt. For example, it’s possible to live through a recession. It’s even possible to live through an all-out siege.

The U.S. should be creating better economic situations around the world, not focusing our efforts solely on ourselves. And the government should be trying to teach better economic habits, not encouraging rampant irresponsible spending sprees that will only increase our already horrendous debt problems.

But instead, the U.S. is more worried about the stigma of recession than about actually creating a healthy economy. Maybe if the U.S. became less concerned with avoiding a statistical recession, it wouldn’t be so statistically in debt.