As the U.S. Debt Clock reveals, our national debt will soon reach an astounding $23 trillion.
We show little inclination to rein in spending, cut programs, investigate cost overruns, or reduce the number of federal workers. No, we keep spending money like it will vanish from our wallets regardless, so much so that we are blasé about our ocean of debt. A billion here, ten billion there: who really cares?
A trillion dollars? How would that look? Suppose I owned a medium-sized home. Could I fit a trillion dollars in the basement of the house? How about if in addition, I filled up the den and the dining room as well? To accommodate 1,000 billion dollars, I’d be more than willing to clear out the attic, sell off all the furniture, and empty the refrigerator.
Some commentators I’ve read contend we can’t even imagine a trillion dollars. It’s simply too great a sum to take hold in our imaginations.
In “What does one TRILLON dollars look like?” some genius came up with a vivid picture of that mountain of moolah. Keep in mind that the basic monetary unit in this illustration is a $100 bill and that the last picture shows double rather than single pallets of bills.
Once you’ve put your jaw back in place, wiped up your spilled coffee, and caught your breath, take a look at this similar illustration from 2009 to see what $11 trillion in debt looks like.
Less than half of our current level of debt.
We’re apparently content to let this Himalaya of greenbacks grow, leaving the consequences to our young people.
Our politicians do little or nothing. For decades, we have witnessed an expansion of government in our country: programs, benefits, services, grants, with Congress and federal agencies all the while throwing out bucks – our bucks – like candy at a Christmas parade. In 2018-2019, some newly elected members of Congress, along with some other older socialists, began pushing for the Green New Deal, which would add tens of trillions of dollars to our current staggering debt.
So I wonder: Do any of these people in our government – members of Congress, the president, department heads, high ranking bureaucrats – get headaches?
Let me explain.
For almost 26 years, my wife and I operated a bed-and-breakfast, a bookstore, and a mail order book company for homeschoolers, all while raising four children. To help make ends meet, Kris worked part-time as an instructor in nursing through Western Carolina University, and I did some part-time teaching.
We were frantically busy, but those ends never did meet. We could never get ahead. In fact, we kept falling deeper into debt. Twice we refinanced the house. Once we borrowed money from an individual, which we managed to repay.
For many years, debt was the ghost haunting our dreams at night and our thoughts in the day.
We had no one to blame but ourselves.
For twenty of those years, I endured frequent headaches. Only a few were severe enough to drive me to bed, but once a week or so, I would either begin or end the day with my head aching.
Two years after Kris’ death, I sold the bed-and-breakfast, closed the bookstore, and began teaching homeschoolers. The money I made from the sale of the B&B left me with little cash, but it paid off the mortgage and all my debts. For the first time in two decades, I owed no money to credit card companies. My subsequent years of teaching provided adequate income, and with the exception of payments on an automobile, I have remained out of debt.
The result: My headaches vanished. In the last 15 years, I can count on one hand the number of headaches I’ve suffered. When the stress of debt disappeared, my headaches did the same.
So here’s what I’d like to know. Is there anyone in our government sweating bullets over our national debt? Is there anyone who wakes at three o’clock in the morning, dry-mouthed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering where the money will come from to pay our debt – or even to finance the interest on that debt? Is there anyone at all in our Congress scrambling to come up with a budget, reduce expenses, and pay down the debt? This is what most ordinary people do when we can’t match our income to our spending. Why have we allowed almost 20 years to pass without at least seeing a balanced federal budget?
Do any of these people get headaches?
[Image Credit: Pixabay]
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.