Alright, it’s time for the tough conversation. Taxes, Expenditures, and the Federal Debt (don’t worry Texas, I’m not dyslexic – I did mean ‘taxes,’ not you guys).
We are currently $20 Trillion in debt, as a nation. That number is so big, it’s legitimately difficult to truly wrap your mind around. For comparison, the average person can count from 1 to 310,000,000 over the course of their entire life (assuming you were able to speak and count fluently from the moment of birth, and died at the age of 75). So, in order to count as high as the current National Debt, you would need 64,516 lifetimes to do it. Or 1,492 times the number of years that the universe has been in existence.
That’s … a really big number. And it’s growing. At a current rate of $440 Billion per year. Now, don’t have a heart attack – yearly deficits for a country of the size and wealth as ours will typically range in the Billions. And that would normally be ok – IF we weren’t already in debt waaay above our ability to pay it off within a few years.
Here’s the very sobering, very ugly truth: at $20 Trillion in debt, we are already having to borrow money every year, just to pay the interest – JUST the interest – on the money we’ve already borrowed. Let that sink in for a second. We’re having to borrow money just to keep from defaulting on the loans of the money we’ve already borrowed (and spent). None of that is actually going to paying off the principle on the actual debt itself. That’s like opening a new credit card, just to pay the minimum payments on the nine credit cards you’ve already maxed out. And the entire amount of debt you owe is still sitting there, untouched, building up more debt.
This has gone FAR beyond the point were we can just say – “ok, time to stop spending money we don’t have, and tighten up the belt, so we can pay it off.” ..It’s damn-near too late for that. 15 years ago, we would have been ok, within 5-6 years. But now… No sir. We’ve got serious problems.
Let me tell you what happens in our not-so-distant future, if we FAIL to start paying down our National Debt and get it to a more manageable level. One of three things will happen.
1.) The U.S. cannot keep up with the interest that is owed on the money we’ve already borrowed, and the U.S. Treasury will default on it’s loans, and then the credit rating of the sovereign U.S. Government will tank. When that happens, our entire economy will disintegrate (and likely the world’s economy will fall apart too, since the world currently runs on $USD). Which means we’re all screwed. This is the least-likely scenario, because it can be delayed by options 2 and 3, as listed below.
2.) The U.S. cannot keep up with the interest on our debt, and – rather than letting the economy immediately fall apart, as in Example 1 – we choose instead to print more money, so we can use it to pay the interest on our debt.. This leads quickly to hyper-inflation, and everyone’s money becomes worthless. Which means we have to print even MORE money to keep pace with the plummeting value of the U.S. Dollar, so that we can continue to pay the interest on our debt. Which means our money becomes even MORE worthless. Inevitably, our economy will still disintegrate anyway. This scenario will just buy us a few extra years of time, before that happens. And the recovery will take longer (several decades).
3.) The final scenario (which is the most likely of the three) is: the U.S. cannot keep up with the interest on our debt, and – rather than printing more money, as in example 2 – the rest of the world simply cuts us off from borrowing any additional money from them, because at that point it’s become obvious that we cannot pay our bills. In this scenario, our economy experiences an extended period of dramatic deflation, everyone loses their jobs because nobody can afford to hire anyone, and the U.S. Dollar ceases (probably forever) to be the standard currency of trade around the world, and is most likely replaced by the Chinese Yuan. At which point, we’ll be at the mercy of their economy (or that of whoever’s currency happens to take over), rather than the other way around. This will figuratively enslave us, economically.
Now, let me put that further into perspective: our current government, being already $20 Trillion in debt, has just added $1.4 Trillion to our deficit, just by passing the “tax cuts” last December. Just two months ago. Make no mistake – those tax cuts benefited ONLY the super-rich and mega-corporations. If you’re middle-class, you will see an average savings of ~$50 per year for the next couple of years. “whoopeeeie…” And then your taxes are going to jump up higher than they already are now, and you’ll have no more line-item deductions to help lower your tax burden.
Yes, that’s correct. You’re going to get REAMED by the Tax-man, in a few years. Don’t believe me? Wait a year, or maybe three at most. At your peril. Or, do the math now, and realize you need to do something before it’s too late. Your choice.
Either way, you’re still screwed. Because our sorely in-debt government hasn’t JUST borrowed another $1.4 Trillion to literally hand it over to the super-wealthy in tax-cuts – they’ve also passed a spending bill yesterday that adds another $500 Billion to the National Debt, on top of that (having to borrow more money to pay the interest on the money we’ve already borrowed). AND the President has called for a massive spending increase on “national defense,” all while cutting numerous government agencies (which protect the public, and our foreign interests) and also our social programs – to the bone.
And – laughably – the President wants to hold a military parade, on top of all that… A MILITARY PARADE..!! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because that’s about $20 Million wasted on … what?? What do we really gain from a friggin parade!? We’re already in debt over our eyeballs, with no plan to pull ourselves out of this mess, and only a plan to spend yet more money that we don’t have, and … a parade!? Somebody in Washington has a pretty damn dark sense of humor. Or, is just straight-up delusional.
Here are the facts, and here is what we need to do: we need to wake up to the bleakness of our situation. We need to recognize that certain critical government agencies need to be funded, but that we need to get a little wiser as to the prospects of our future, and how we spend our national treasury. We need to focus on maintaining the services that pay for themselves, and we need to maintain some services that don’t pay for themselves directly but that contribute directly to our national and economic well-being. And we need to recognize that some of our national expenses just are not necessary.
I know this will probably piss some people off – namely Conservatives – but, frankly I don’t give a good-goddamn. It needs to be said. Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn’t make it any less necessary to speak it. Take for instance the military. I am a Veteran. And I’m proud of both my service, and of the military in general. And I believe whole-heartedly in a strong national defense. But – there’s a sensible limit. Where does the “we’re objectively safe” begin? 10% of the national budget? 30%? 90%? (…obviously not 90% – that’d be beyond ridiculous, but – you get my point).
Here’s the thing – our military is already the most powerful the world has EVER known. We control 6,800 nuclear weapons – be it via bombs, ICBMs, or missiles launched from submarines. Ie, the “Nuclear Triad.” In any case, that’s enough to render the world completely sterile of all life, several times over. We also spend more on our military than the next 10-ranked military powers, COMBINED (how the hell is another nation gonna put up a realistic challenge to that..??). Our Navy is stronger than the next 3 biggest navies combined, and has enough super-carrier groups that – if we needed to raze an entire nation to the ground, we could do so just by using the firepower of our naval fleets alone – point is, we already have an OVERWHELMING advantage, militarily.
Oh, and – do you know what else our Navy is doing? Building more nuclear-powered submarines. Do you know how many we already have? Thirty-two. In the entire world’s nations, only North Korea has more subs than we do, and the rest of North Korea’s Navy is a joke compared to ours – in both numbers, and in strength and firepower. Each of those submarines costs ~$2 Billion dollars. And we have seven more under construction right now. ….. WHY!??
It gets better – (or worse, if you’re not one for sardonic hyperbole)
We also already have over a thousand M1A1 Abrams tanks (the badass, take-no-crap, undisputed King-of-the-battlefield kind – the kind whose armor and top speed is still classified, 30 years after they were designed, are still unmatched around the world, and are still state-of-the-art). Do you know what all of those extra thousand+ M1A1 tanks are doing? They’re rotting in a parking lot. Because the military doesn’t have the personnel (or the need) to put men in them. And yet every year, our government makes more of them. Why??
And then there’s the F-35 Fighter Jet program. $1.5 Trillion dollars spent, and yet they still have trouble just taking off from a runway, without crashing or blowing up. And yet we still supposedly don’t have enough money to give our Soldiers a raise so they can live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle?? (let’s face it – they get paid crap for putting their lives on the line for us..)
Then we have the issue of rounding up illegal immigrants? You know how much money that costs?? Do you know how much cheaper it’d be to just have about a thousand Federal Agents on payroll, and have them actually enforce the laws that are already in place, and round up the illegal employers who’re hiring the immigrants, instead? And then if we did that, the source of the problem – the illegal jobs – would be solved, and the problem itself would dry up. Problem-friggin-Solved.
And then of course there’s The Wall. Look, I’m not going to comment too much on the wall, because I know a lot of you like the idea. I’m not a fool. But I AM a student of history – all the way from the Neolithic Age through present day – and thoroughly versed in pretty much all the Western World’s history, and a good bit of China’s history too. And through all of that studying, I have learned one thing: walls have never once – not in all of recorded history – been totally successful in doing what they are inherently meant to do – which is: keep people out. It’s never been the wall that matters. It’s always been about the number of people guarding it. And the effectiveness of people guarding a border is mostly independent of whether a wall is present or not. So … oh my god, is that a stereotypical example of spending money we don’t have!
And then there’s industry subsidies. These haven’t been re-vamped or adjusted since the 1950s. It’s a BIT out of date. We still pay the Oil & Gas Industry gob-tons of taxpayer-funded subsidies, when they are laying workers off all the time, and still making record profits, in the meantime. That needs to be adjusted to something resembling the modern Oil & Gas market. Then there are the farm subsidies that likewise haven’t been adjusted in 70 years, which are responsible for farmers producing only the same non-sustainable crops, every single season (because they are literally paid to do that, instead of diversifying their crops – it’s not that they don’t want to diversify – most of them do). This causes them to have to fertilize more often (and spend money on that), and the waste and the runoff hurts our farmlands and tributaries, to boot. Which of course we have to spend MORE money trying to prevent.
…Do you see what I mean!?? And yet our national infrastructure is falling apart, and the politicians have the balls to tease at the idea of fixing it.. They have NO idea of what they’re getting into, and they’ve already spent the money needed to actually fix it, three-times over, on crap that we don’t need!
– It’s not that we don’t have the money to fully fund ourselves, and still keep our military nice and strong, AND start paying down our National Debt at the same time – it’s that we don’t hold our politicians accountable to actually doing that. The amount of federal waste is gut-churning.
And yet we STILL have Big Party politicians (I’m facing off against one in my district now) who insist that they’re supposedly “fiscally responsible,” and all-the-while promising their district *extra* money through pork-barrel funding for local projects, because they think the temporary minor boost in federal spending will net a couple hundred jobs, and thus earn them ‘kudo points’ to get elected. Horse-shit. Don’t buy that snake-oil.
They have no idea the meaning of “responsibility.” Sad as it is to say it, the conversation we really need to be having right now is how much we need to realistically raise our taxes, to make sure we don’t all go broke in 10 years. Yeah – I said it. We need to seriously look at the prospect of having to raise our taxes! The truth may not be pleasant, but – like any credit card debt, we have to eventually pay for all we’ve spent! Otherwise, what the hell are we doing, besides hiding our heads in the sand like a bunch of dumb animals, fervently hoping that “the good old days” that we’re living in now somehow – by some unknown and unlikely miracle – won’t disappear on us, like a fart in the breeze!
So I’m gonna go ahead and say it – Screw those guys. They need to own up to the fact that WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO SPEND. And we sure as hell don’t have the money to re-direct from other government funds, either – like the poor Social Security treasury, which is already failing us now only because various Congressmens’ pork-barrel projects keep sucking all the money out of it – to fund their little “vote-for-me” projects.
They disgust me. The fact that the public is still somehow not seriously scared out of their wits of the dire situation we’re in, disgusts me. And it keeps me up at night, sometimes. I’m honestly worried about our future. I’ve started to save for my own retirement (and I’m only 35), not by traditional investing in 401k, or an IRA, or in stocks, or bonds, or mutual funds, but in buying gold and silver bullion, because I am legitimately concerned that the U.S. Dollar will lose most of it’s value in the next 10 years, because we’re running this country like a bunch of spoiled valley-girls with their daddy’s credit card.
But I’m going to try. I’m not giving up hope yet. I’m going to try to get the public to see the light, and do what I can to curb the government’s spending habits. It’s not too late yet. Lord knows, even in the best-case-scenario, we’re still gonna have to hurt for a while because of the damage that’s already been done, but – it’s not too late to turn this ship around before it capsizes, and takes us all down with it. We’ve gotta try..