Someone else's problem
By Dr. Robert Owens
I'm thinking about changing my economic strategy. My parents were raised in the Roosevelt Depression and they taught me to work hard, save money, and pay for what I wanted. I was a deficit hawk when being a deficit hawk wasn't cool' Now that it isn't even an option why should I stay at the party when there's no one left to dance with? In our new Omerica I think I'll join the winning side and try spending more than I make every day for the rest of my life and see how that works out. If I can just manage to get where I owe so much that I'm too big to fail I can start really living large on federal handouts, excuse me bailouts, excuse me stimulus. Won't that be sweet? I'll hold seminars on "How to Borrow Your Way to Wealth," or "If You'll Take a Check I'll Take Two Please." What a great racket, excuse me scheme, excuse me program. And technically it's not a shell game if you don't use shells.
According to a recent USA Today study American taxpayers are on the hook for an additional $55,000 per household for federal spending and promises in the last 12 months of the Bush Debacle. That represents a 12% increase in the deficient just in George II's final year in office and the media tells us he's a conservative. Of course he's the kind of conservative who can also use modern double-speak. I think this one should be above the door to his soon-to-be-built multi-million dollar presidential library, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." This spending spree raises the per household federal debt to $546,668 which is four times the average personal debt for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards combined. Instead of "Don't Tread on Me" perhaps we should have flags that proclaim, "Send Me the Stuff And Send the Bill to Someone Else"
Don't tell Someone Else but this means our runaway government assumed a staggering $6.8 trillion in new obligations in 2008 alone. This explosion of excess when added to the creatively hidden realities of the federal entitlement programs brings poor old Someone Else's debt load to the nearly incomprehensible total of $63.8 trillion. Now some might say, "Wait a minute! This guy is way over board! Our national debt is only $11 trillion." I wish I could convince myself it was only $11 trillion that would help me sleep at night. However, government books are so over-cooked they make Enron and WorldCom look as honest as the day is long. The real number doesn't just cover what we've borrowed so far but what we've promised to pay in the future minus what we might conceivably raise to offset future borrowing. When you lump that all together you end up with the $63 trillion or some other such ridiculous number.
At least we can tell Someone Else that all this national shopaholicism isn't being wasted buying $7,000 toilet seats and $800 hammers its buying things we really need. Such as: $97 million for a program that's being cancelled at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the interests of national defense our government decided to replace old nuclear warheads with new ones. The rocket-scientists in the planning department said they needed two new buildings to produce the necessary plutonium components. The program was cancelled. But when has the lack of common sense ever gotten in the way of a good boondoggle? Along comes our earmark-free stimulus and the $97 Million enters stage-left. Now that the money is here we have to spend it otherwise who would get stimulated. So the construction continues for buildings that are no longer needed. At least all these shovel-ready jobs have the economy purring along like a well-oiled machine.
A man walks into a bank to open a checking account the teller says, "I have good news and bad news." The man asks, "What's the good news?" The teller says, "When you open an account with us you can have either a new toaster or 1000 shares of GM stock." "What's the bad news?" "We're all out of toasters." No one will buy GM stock which is why it's now in the 1$ range and our glorious leaders are going to pony up billions of Someone Else's money to buy the majority share in a company that's going to turn a profit when?
What dolts we were working and saving when all you have to do is want something, charge it to Someone Else and shazaam you get the stuff and Someone Else gets the bill. That Someone Else sure is a generous person aren't they? There's only one problem with this perpetual-motion money machine. When you look in the mirror Someone Else is looking back.
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, Religion, and Leadership for Southside Virginia Community College. Contact Dr. Owens. © 2009 Robert R. Owens. Dr. Owens is available for speaking engagements.