What to do with your little windfall

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It’s hard to say exactly how the newly approved federal tax bill will impact you, but this much we know: There’s a strong likelihood that many Idahoans will have at least a little more disposable income soon.

If that proves true, it bodes well for our local, state and national economies. Consumer spending, after all, accounts for roughly 70 percent of all economic growth. So after we answer the question “How much more will you have to spend?” the next obvious query is, “Where will you spend it?”

Because our nation is mired in $20 trillion debt, constituting a massive threat to our national security, it would make sense for Americans to do all they can to become debt free. Sorry for this painful reminder, but that debt isn’t just going to go away; ultimately, taxpayers will foot the bill. That will be difficult to impossible if they’re already personally mired in debt.

You also can’t go wrong saving money. A little discipline can go a long way: Just decide right now that anything above what you expected to take home will automatically go into your savings account.

Yet even then, reality suggests that many people will use at least some of their extra income on purchases. And again, that helps feed the national economic engine, which was the rationale behind the tax bill in the first place.

So, where are you going to spend your money? For your community’s sake, we hope right here.

A newspaper article Dec. 22 cited a report that holiday season online spending increased 18 percent over 2016. The article also took that cyber data and translated it to on-the-ground sweat and statistics, noting a U.S. Postal Service report of 10 percent increase in shipments from 2016 and a powerful uptick for United Parcel Service, as well.

If you’re Amazon, eBay, Walmart or one of the other huge online retailers, these are tidings of great joy for 2018 and beyond. But if you’re one of the local brick-and-mortar stores that have for years, sometimes generations, served the people of Kootenai County, this news sounds more like the sad peal of a tolling bell.

A growing list of companies is giving employees bonuses because of the windfall the tax bill represents to them, including several in Idaho. Those bonuses can be added to whatever increase in take-home pay Idaho workers see in their paychecks soon, so there’s certain to be some extra cash floating around.

A humble request: Don’t just ship whatever share of a windfall you might receive out of state, bolstering someone else’s tax base, job growth and prospects for greater prosperity.

Please, give local businesses a chance before ordering anything online. The health of your community depends largely on that simple step.

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