America’s real crisis

by Robert Maynard

Politicians and media outlets are busy once again distracting  Americans from the real crisis we face.  The so-called “government shutdown” has left roughly 83% – 85% of the government’s budget untouched, yet the painting of this as a crisis of major proportions goes mostly unchallenged.  We are told that, if we don’t raise our debt ceiling so that we can go even further in debt, all kinds of financial calamities will befall us.  In the midst of all this nonsense, little mention is made of our real economic crisis.  That would be our national debt.  The Independent Institute puts this crisis into focus in this article.  Here is an excerpt:

With U.S. Treasury officials predicting that the federal government will reach its $16.7 trillion borrowing limit around mid-October, Washington is girding for another battle over taxes and spending between Congress and the White House.

Regardless of the exact details, recent history should teach us that the biggest loser likely will be the taxpayer.

After World War II, America’s main concern for many decades was the so-called “red menace”: Communism and the Soviet Union. Now we’re discovering that the real red menace is the sea of red ink that Washington has been piling up: the debt.

The problem is mainly political: Washington’s practice of providing benefits today, while postponing payment until tomorrow.

To some degree we all know the story.

During the 70-year period, 1940 to 2010, gross federal debt increased from $43 billion (the equivalent of $670 billion in 2010 dollars) to more than $13.5 trillion: a 24-fold increase. Since then, it has increased at an even-faster rate, hitting $16.2 trillion in November 2012—and more than $16.5 trillion today.

President Obama has spoken passionately about the oppressive debt that students incur in pursing their college degrees. On average, students graduating in 2013 were saddled with about $35,000 in debt. President Obama should be more concerned about their share of the national debt, which now stands at more than $145,000 per taxpayer.