Last week - on Wednesday to be specific - the federal government announced very quietly that the national debt had topped $9 trillion for the first time. The national debt is the total of the yearly budget deficits plus the money the feds borrow from Social Security or other government trust funds.
OK, so let's see if I understand this. Our federal government each year budgets money they expect to spend to keep this country running. Identical to how you run your household. You calculate how much you're going to spend on housing and groceries and clothing and transportation, etc. And then you look and see how much money is in your paycheck. Hopefully, there's enough money in that paycheck to cover those expenses.
So far, so good.
But unlike your household budget, the feds are allowed - by we taxpayers - to spend a tad bit more than they collect in their paycheck - which we all know involves the tax money you send their way. So each year, our federal government spends more than they collect. Thus, the deficit. So they take a billion here and there from various funds but they always put an IOU into the equation so that the books balance.
When the smoke clears, we are in debt. And as of last week that debt hit $9,000,000,000,000.
So what does this mean? Beats the heck out of me! And if you'll notice, politicians aren't exactly hitting the media circuit to tell us what this means.
So my question is this. Should we sell Yellowstone National Park to help reduce the national debt? I assume some rich Chinese gazillionaire would be more than willing to own Old Faithful. Why not auction off the Rocky Mountain range? It's pretty but not very conducive to homebuilding so maybe someone would be willing to fork over some cash to own a chunk of those "purple mountain's majesty" we sing about. Who knows?
I have debt. You have debt. I guess it's the American way. But my debt is what I like to call "manageable," which means, in a pinch I could retire my debt.
But $9 trillion? Now that's some pretty hefty debt folks.
The White House says the debt is because of a slow economy, the Sept. 11 attacks and the cost of fighting terrorism. The Democrats say the debt should be blamed on the Bush tax cuts. I don't believe either side.
I think the debt is the result of overzealous spending by politicians who are using our tax dollars like their personal piggy banks. I doubt the federal government has yet to see a costly program they didn't like. And when you spend like a drunken sailor - no offense intended to drunken sailors - you run up debt.
If you really want to worry consider the following. It took this nation from George Washington to Ronald Reagan to reach the first $1 trillion in debt. And now is just 25 short years, we're at $9 trillion.
The first political candidate who gives a concrete solution to this dilemma gets my vote. Any takers?