There are eighteen trillion reasons to fear for the future.
Eighteen trillion of anything is a fearsome number. It suggests something beyond comprehension and outside the realm of reality. The number becomes even more unreal when it is attached to reasons. It boggles the mind since no one can actually reason in such terms. However, each one of these eighteen trillion reasons to fear for the future corresponds to something that does exist – in this case, an American dollar.
It’s official. Some time this December 2014, the national debt passed the $18 trillion mark. The government now owes more than all Americans earn or produce in a single year.
Every one of these reasons is a cause for fear and concern. Each dollar represents a commitment that puts the future at risk. Since it is impossible to indicate the reasons why each dollar is a cause for anxiety, it is better to reduce the eighteen trillion reasons to four more manageable concerns.
The first major reason for concern is that the $18 trillion national debt reflects a culture of unrestraint. It leads to what has been called the “frenetic intemperance” of the times. People live with the idea that they must have everything instantly and effortlessly. They do not care to reflect upon the consequences of their spending and borrowing. They live only for the present, reject the idea of restraint, and come to rely upon the government to come to their aid. Such a mentality explains why the current government debt has reached the $18 trillion mark and why household debt is back up to pre-2008 levels at around $12 trillion.
The second major reason for concern is that such a huge national debt indicates something is terribly wrong with the concept of the government currently in place. When it takes an extra $18 trillion to run the government, it means the government is doing many things it should not be doing. Big government has assumed many functions that should be done by family, community or church at little or no cost to the Treasury. Tragically, this also means that something is terribly wrong with Americans who should be doing things they are not now doing and delegate to the government. All this opens the door for a vicious circle in which big government comes charging into the void... and gets ever bigger.
Yet another reason for concern is the nature of the current government debt. It is not like a normal loan that eventually is paid off. This debt trend never reverses; it never goes down and always goes up. Day in, day out, debt level constantly grows, dragging the nation down ever deeper, thus jeopardizing the future of the nation.
In addition, the growth is not even. It is terrifying to note that seventy percent of the $18 trillion debt has been contracted over the last six years. Moreover, the latest budget negotiations will allow the government to spend an additional $1 trillion of funds it does not have. Thus, by the end of 2015, there will be nineteen trillion reasons for concern.
Finally, the greatest reason for concern is that it appears that people are not willing to sacrifice to remedy the problem. Everyone is willing to see the budgets of others cut, but not their own. Painful cuts must be made, but the sense of entitlement is too well entrenched for people to accept them. Too many people look upon America almost like an ATM which they use to improve their lives.
They should look upon America as a family. Everyone is in this crisis together – rich and poor, old and young, all groups and parties. When a family has problems, everyone pulls together to weather the storm. That is what is missing. Until America becomes like a family, as in times of crises past, there will be no solution to this problem. There will only be trillions more reasons for concern.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is vice president for the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.
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