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Money 101: Why the Debt Matters

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If we wish to survive as a nation, we cannot merely ”get the deficit under control.” We have to eliminate it completely. Zero. No deficit. Every year.

But all that would do is hold the debt at its current level. The interest payments do not go away under that scenario. No; we have to go further; we have to reduce the debt... by a whole lot, in order to reduce the annual interest payments. And that means not just balancing the budget; it means having an annual surplus — a surplus that we can use to pay off some of that debt.


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January, 2011:

Last week, I noted that so much of the discussion on the deficit centered on getting it under control.

"Americans want budget deficits curbed."

   -- Robert Samuelson

-- http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/27/how-obama-s-speech-muddied-the-budget-debate.html

But focusing on "getting the deficit under control" misses the point entirely.

For the last three years, the annual deficit has been around $1.5 trillion each year. That means that in the last three years, we have added about four and a half trillion dollars to the total debt owed by our federal government -- that's you and me. "Unsustainable" does not begin to describe how atrocious that is. If we "get the deficit under control," by reducing it to a mere $500 billion a year, we will nonetheless add another five trillion dollars to the debt in the next decade. Let's take a look at what impact that will have on our society.

Suppose your annual income is $50,000. Some of that income must go to pay your taxes. Then there is the little matter of the mortgage... and food, electricity, gas to keep the car running, and a few other necessities. Now, suppose that, from that original $50,000 income, $7,500 was lopped right off the top -- for, oh, let's call it "Area 51" expenses. Aliens sneak in at midnight and rip it out of your hands. Poof; gone. That would put a crimp in your style, would it not? Now, suppose that I told you that a decade from now, Area 51 expenses would take $15,000 from your income?

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