Yes, I think it’s fair to say that our government has a problem with money. It either loathes money and sets out to dispose of it as quickly as possible or loves money so much that it can’t get enough of it– or both. How is it that the most prosperous nation in the world can be approaching $16 trillion of debt? And the number rapidly increases as you read this. Nearly every country has debt– it seems to be a problem for everyone, not just the United States– but some have handled it more responsibly than others. In 2008, instead of electing a money-savvy President, it appears that we elected the opposite and we are now paying the price for it.
The debt of the United States did not amount to $1 trillion until 1980. The Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, threat of a nuclear war, wars in Korea and Vietnam– all of these major events in U.S. history still did not add up to $1 trillion of debt. We reached that horrendous milestone in 1980 and since then have added almost $15 trillion to our debt. The number is mind-boggling: Since our declaration of freedom from England in 1776 until two-hundred-four years later in 1980, we collected $1 trillion in debt. From 1980 to thirty-two years later, we have collected nearly $15 trillion more. How is this massive turn-around even possible?
Somehow we’ve developed a problem with money. It can’t be blamed on the changing times; if ever there was an “excuse” for spending additional money it would have been in times when we had a divided nation in the Civil War or during the Great Depression when a quarter of the country was out of work. It can’t even be blamed on the fact that federal revenue has increased so much that the government simply doesn’t know what to do with all the extra spending money it has, because the revenue hasn’t increased that much. The reality that the current adminstration seems to be ignoring is that our revenue has not increased enough to recklessly spend money; however, they’re certainly doing it: From building soccer fields for terrorists at Gitmo, to studying whether politicians “gain or lose support by taking ambiguous positions”, to giving $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to research video games such as World of Warcraft, to funding attempts to solve the problem of five year-olds who “can’t sit still” in kindergarten: Our government is definitely funding plenty of unnecessary programs, but somehow we’re $16 trillion in debt. I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
The United States has always been the “shining city on a hill” that the entire world looks to for inspiration, solace, and opportunity. How is it that a nation this great is being so burdened down with such a large debt?
“Don’t spend more than you earn.” It’s such a simple phrase, yet somehow our government is having trouble comprehending it. That’s not our only problem though– before we handle the phrase above, we’re going to have to handle this one: “Get your priorities in order.” In my opinion, that’s the root of our money troubles here in the United States. Our government has reverted to reckless spending on unnecessary programs rather than use the “extra” money to lower taxes or even– novel thought– start paying off our debt. Our money problem has sprouted roots that seem strong but in reality are only threads that will be pulled up as soon as we get our financial house back in order.
We have to stop this problem with money. America is on a fast-track to becoming just like Greece; it’s very possible, but also very preventable if we act now. The first step is to stop building soccer fields for terrorists; the next step is to start paying off the enormous debt we have accumulated while freeing up the markets and letting them create jobs, taking government’s hand out of the economy; and the last is to maintain the first two steps. Like I said, it really isn’t that difficult; it just takes willingness– willingness to stop earning favor with big campaign donors and start earning favor with citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.