So President Bush signed a bill today that will push the United States' deficit to a whopping $9 trillion dollars. Trillion. Let that sink in for a moment.
Remember the first lesson you ever learned about spending with a credit card? Some of us found it out the hard way, when we found ourselves still paying for clothes we'd already thrown out or gifts for people we no longer talked to.
Others were given the lecture by our parents, and it goes something like this. If you buy a stereo today for $500 and use a credit card, thinking "oh, a $10 minimum payment - that's EASY," you're in for a bit of sticker shock. Assuming 20% APR, the stereo will end up costing about $1,100 total and will take 9 years to pay off.
It's pretty easy to figure that out with credit card payments, with numbers of those orders of magnitude. So why can't our Congress and our President figure it out for the national debt?
Back in 2003, we were paying in the neighborhood of $300 billion dollars on interest alone. That's how much we paid in INTEREST for the national debts. Those are, in essence, our minimum payments. We're not even paying off the principal, we're just barely paying off our minimums.
And instead of finally facing the music and realizing that perhaps we should tighten our collective belts, our government sees only one solution - get ourselves more deeply mired in debt. How much of America do we need to mortgage before we see the light? How big do our bills need to get before we see the consequences of an unsustainable fiscal policy? Any reasonable individual would already have seen what these spending habits would do - they're a speedy, efficient route directly to bankruptcy and financial ruin.
If America even wants to hope for a fiscally stable future, it must stop deficit spending today. When people are irresponsible with money, they're hunted down by creditors and taken into court until they pay up or declare bankruptcy. But that'll never happen for the people creating our national debt today. No congressman in office today will be alive when America is bankrupt, spiraling further into debt faster than it can claw its way out. GWB will not be called to the carpet for the country's lack of funds in 2100.
When our little empire - which continues to maintain against all evidence that it is not an empire - collapses, it won't be because the ideas that founded the nation failed. It will be because of a few hundred powerful men who decided to spend far more money than the country had, and decided that pork-barrel politics and a pre-emptive war were more important than the nation's viability.
I guess being a superpower is fun while it lasts. But we're keeping it only with borrowed money and borrowed time - and sooner or later, one or the other will run out.