Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
It does not seem that long ago that federal spending in the United States of America was $627 billion in 1965, according to The Heritage Foundation, which keeps track of these and other numbers of interest. Federal revenue in 1965 was $620 billion, so our government was $7+ billion in the hole for 1965.
Even then, knowing that $1 billion is really $1 million 1,000 times and that $628 billion is really $1 million 628,000 times, it seemed like a lot of moolah.
Federal spending in 2008 is estimated to top $2.7 trillion. Knowing that $1 trillion is really $1 billion 1,000 times, and that $2.7 trillion is really $1 billion 2,700 times, and really $1 million 2,700,000 times, it is mind-boggling to wrap your mind around. No wonder we are called the richest nation in the world.
We may also be the most foolhardy nation in the world as our national debt has now topped $9.4 trillion against an estimated annual federal revenue of $2.5 trillion for 2008. It may be difficult, but think about servicing $9.4 trillion in debt with $2.5 trillion in revenue.
Perhaps the relationship between the two figures it is easier to think of this way: Your annual income is $100,000 and you have to service $376,000 in debt, or your annual income is $50,000 and you have to service $188,000 in debt. What if the $188,000 in debt was credit card debt? Would you ever get out from under?
There are a lot of families in America with annual income well in excess of $100,000 that are servicing more than $1 million in debt, but does all of the wonderful lifestyle make your feel any more secure?
Is our federal spending out of control in the United States? It is a fact that federal spending has grown 334% since 1965, that is 9 times FASTER than our median income, which rose just over 35% during the same period.
If you think that statistic is scary, try this one: Discretionary spending, the portion of the federal budget subject to annual review and debate, has risen 152% since 1965 while mandatory spending, consisting mostly of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which continue on automatic pilot, has risen 759% since 1965.
In other words, mandatory spending is rising 5 times FASTER than discretionary spending. Mandatory spending has grown from $169 billion in 1965 to $1.45 trillion in 2007, taking up more than 58% of the federal budget.
Our government has a real stupid plan when it cannot meet our taxpayer obligations—the government prints more money. When doing so, our government simultaneously increases inflation and reduces the value of our American dollar. This is the same plan that South American dictators use when pressed for cash to pay bills. Do it enough, and pretty soon it takes a wheelbarrow full of dollars for a citizen to buy a loaf of bread.
If you lost your job and your income was cut in half or two-thirds, you would use some good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity (common sense) to cut back your expenses until you found another source of revenue. If we as citizens printed money to cover our expenses, our government would prosecute us and send us to jail.
The people who run our government are citizens like you and me, with one big difference: they can authorize the printing of money to cover their mistakes and we cannot. It also helps that none of them are forced to live in a dumpster behind a trash store. Trust me when I say that they are hardly living near poverty level.
In other words, there are so many millionaires running into each other in the nation’s capital they can hardly get anything done that will actually help the people they are representing, which would be us. The plain truth is that politicians have done more to help themselves get on in life than help us, and they have done this because we put them in a position to do so.
Our elected officials in Washington have such a good self-image they refuse to be part of our Social Security System, which is plenty good enough for the taxpayers who elect and support their spending habits, but certainly not good enough for them. Their retirement system is not nearly as shabby and cheap as ours; their retirement system continues their salary for the rest of their life when they retire.
But enough carping about our elected politicians who basically could really care whether we drop dead or get on in the world. Do not believe all of the drivel coming out of their mouths this presidential election year.
Put simply, Barack Obama wants to be the first African American president, Hillary Clinton wants to be the first woman president, and John McCain wants to be the oldest president ever elected. All are U. S. Senators, and all are multi-millionaires or married to multi-millionaires. Their chief interest in being a politician is to line their pockets at our expense.
If nothing about our country being $9.4 trillion in debt bothers you, perhaps you should know that the $9.4 trillion is the actual debt at this very moment—the federal debt INCREASES $1.2 billion per day into the future.
And, just for the record, our actual federal obligations into the future are a whopping $55 trillion and counting. This figure includes “off balance sheet” items like Social Security, Medicare, etc. that we the taxpayers are obligated to pay by being taxed even more in the future.
Most of us who are less prosperous than the millionaire politicians who represent us would do well to work at becoming debt free so we can ultimately survive even if our government cannot.