(On April 4, 1992 our local paper published a column I wrote about the state of the United States economy. I forgot about it until, digging through some old files, I found a copy, which I reproduce below with a few annotations. Not surprisingly, 18 years later, the U.S. is not only in a better place but a much more dire position than I might have predicted.)
“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, and the public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled. And the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest we become bankrupt.”
Is this the quote from one of our noble politicians, a leading statesman? One who will lead this country out of economic crisis? No! This is a quote from Cicero in 63 B.C., over 2,000 years ago. [Note: While Cicero has been given credit for the first part of the quote, the source of the entire quote is unknown.]
What is the old adage? “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Is America teetering on the edge of economic disaster? [In 2010, now more than ever.] At a time when government and personal spending and debt is spiraling out of control, we get the same old sugar-coated pill from politicians – “everything’s OK, spend, spend, spend; nothing to worry about.”
However, there are some economists and knowledgeable people [many more now than 18 years ago] with foresight that are very concerned about the path our polticians and others are taking us down. You only need a grade school education in math to figure out that no one, not even the great United States, can keep spending what it does not have and keep mortgaging the future of hardworking Americans, their retirement and the financial welfare of their children and grandchildren [and many generations to follow].
America and Americans have become slaves to debt and high living. And we are about to pay the piper for our excesses. Our national debt is nearing $4 trillion, with some estimates putting it at $20 trillion by the year 2000 With no decisive or strong commitment from the majority of our elected officials to cut spending and reduce debt, that estimate may be conservative [the officially reported national debt as of March 3, 2010 is $12.5 trillion or $40,668 for every American. However, when entitlement obligations are added in, the debt soars to around $56 trillion.]
If this estimate is close to being accurate (and it assumes no major financial calamities, like an S & L bailout [How about a financial meltdown and hundreds of billions in bailouts to banks and other financial institutions?], then Americans would have to pay taxes exceeding 100 percent of their income in the year 2000 just to pay the interest on this debt. [Of course this is not happening and the debt is soaring into hyperspace]. Clearly a disaster waiting to happen [and many believe is imminent].
The government that our forefathers so thoughtfully and prayerfully founded on Christian principles as a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” is enslaving its people to debt and irresponsible management and stewardship of the constitutional trust.
It is time to clean house and elect “statesman,” not politicians, who will be morally and financially responsible. We must insist that Congress comply with the Gramm-Rudman law of 1985 (which they never have) and maintain a balanced budget and cut expenses – NOW.
It should be against the law for the federal government to use Social Security revenues to balance the budget and, therefore, use the funds anywhere it sees fit. Under the current accounting system, it is operating a legalized theft ring, stealing from the financial pot of millions of future [and current] retirees. This must stop and the system be severely revamped. . . .