Once in a while, when people are in a panic and problems seem to have no solution, when well-meaning participants are suggesting all kinds of contradictory advice, a bolt of perception will strike somewhere, a lightning flash of illumination, and a simple answer appears.

Forgive my presumption, but I think I have a bold and simple solution to our economic meltdown. Please stay with me for just a few moments.

Congress and the president have approved a $700 billion bailout, with more than $200 billion already allotted to buy out housing corporations Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and to shore up insurance behemoth AIG and other banking and brokerage firms. And now, as unemployment spreads and smaller retail businesses shrink or file for bankruptcy, Congress has been hotly debating how many billions they can dole out to the big three automakers. And even while these pressured deliberations go on, financial experts are doubting whether any or all of this will solve the problems – or just delay an inevitable economic collapse, disastrously affecting other nations as well as our own.

Is there an answer, one that will really work and get America’s economy humming again?

Here it is, with details and particulars: Commit at least $100 billion to citizens and taxpayers, who have to foot the bill for all this anyway. If this were done, it would make much of the authorized bailout money unnecessary – because our economy can right itself. Stay with me.

Let the car companies and any other “indispensable” businesses claim Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they must, to gain time to restructure and clean house, fully expecting to come out leaner and more productive. Cancel and forever rule out obscene megamillion “bonuses” to CEOs who are largely responsible for their companies’ problems.

What about all the employees who lose their jobs? Bankrupt company employees who lose their jobs receive at least $100,000 each, tax-free. I’m assuming there will be at least a million jobs lost in this proposal. But a hundred thousand dollars can see the employee through a year or two till his employer recovers, when rehiring those laid-off should be required.

Through this plan, I believe the corporations will profit and recover much more quickly than through any we’ve seen put forward. Why? Because laid-off employees will put their money back into the economy in retail purchases, mortgage payments – and into banks, for safekeeping and interest.

And I love what Joseph Farah has just proposed, that every current buyer of an American car be given a $5,000 tax credit on his purchase – which might well clean out the big unsold inventories and greatly aid the beleaguered auto companies. Again, the taxpayer to the rescue!

Commit another $100 billion to help homeowners make their payments. This will rescue most, if not all, of the troubled loans. This money is not trusted to the mortgage companies that shouldn’t have made the loans in the first place – it goes to borrowers who will fight to keep their homes. But the benefit works for both the borrower and the lender.

Instead of funneling billions more to the big bankers and insurance companies and automakers, as the current plans call for – make taxpayer billions available to taxpayers themselves! The troubled companies will benefit, but at the hands of the citizens, instead of the other way around. Let’s see the bankers and lenders and manufacturers looking for salvation from customers rather than from Big Brother.

A caveat, though: As most of the citizens who’ve been hurt are being handed a $100,000 check, they must sign a commitment to buy American. American cars, American brand appliances, American insurance and American goods and services. Their saving and money market accounts must be in American banks.

There would be many more details and considerations, but get this picture: As at least $200 billion is put in working Americans’ hands, sidestepping the CEOs, there will be an almost instantaneous rebound in the economy. American companies will look like better risks for foreign investors and lenders, because there will be more people who can buy what America produces!

And another important feature of this plan: USA Today reported that the proposed and likely plans of the current Congress and incoming President Obama will “push the federal share of the nation’s $14.4 trillion economy to 25 percent or more – past the post-World War II record of 23.5 percent set in 1983, at the end of what was then the worst recession since the Depression.” This plan can put screeching brakes on that abomination. Do we want the government that ushered us into this mess to own 25 percent of our business?

If we have to take drastic measures, if we have to print up and distribute as much as $700 billion, let’s distribute it to responsible, hardworking, taxpaying American citizens. I trust what they’ll do with those dollars, reinvigorating our businesses and banks and companies, much more than I trust what the politicians and bankers want to do.

Budget analyst Brian Reidl of the venerable Heritage Foundation points out, “Excess government spending has been shown to reduce economic growth. The more money spent by politicians in government, the less spending is available for the private sector, which is the sector that usually creates more productivity.

That being incontestably true, let’s demand that our government put those billions where they belong – in the hands and pocketbooks they came from. They made the cars; let them buy ’em. They built the banks and borrowed to buy homes, and with dollars in their hands they’re the best customers.

Let’s bail out American citizens; they’ll bail out the rest of the economy. And a lot faster and cleaner than politicians and overpaid CEOs.

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