Let’s play make believe:
Close your eyes…and envisage the most depraved depictions of debtors and gambling addicts you see paraded around in movies and on television. Or maybe just picture people you know like such from everyday life. Imagine what their lenders, or bookies, or loan sharks are like. Realize that this new group is usually as depraved and desperate as their counterparts….
2008 marked a significant year in the history of American finances. These Baby-boomers that my generation always hears about – the generation that’s responsible for a large majority of the people consuming these words – have begun to collect what every worker loathes to pay: Social Security. My contemporaries especially loathe the payment of Social Security because of the fact that the overall fund is depleting faster than a gambler’s cash at a casino.
If you’re like me, you immediately think of a lockbox when the topic of Social Security’s mentioned. You follow me…Al Gore, and his zany idea to keep the Social-Security money that America spends faster than it collects in a lockbox, which would in turn be used strictly for Social Security. Of course this didn’t happen, but it made for great late-night comedy fodder.
Now, before you accuse me of jumping on the Old Gore Wagon, it should be noted that the habit of using Social Security monies to provide for other government spending started with another Democrat, Lyndon Johnson. LBJ started the insidious trend of withdrawing money from Social Security and replacing it with ignored IOU’s. Ironically, LBJ did this to prevent the increase of taxes to pay for another unpopular-American war, the Vietnam War.
But why do I mention these depressing subjects? Well, I mention them for a depressing reason: America iss flat broke and is buried in debt. There’s not really a way to deny it. The media’s spokespeople have begun to cluster around the carcass like the vultures they are, but they largely fail to present the ramifications of the issue. Instead, it’s treated as another facile problem that’s fit in between commercials.
We hear that America is something like $9 trillion in debt, which is an incomprehensible number for anyone. It’s difficult enough to navigate through the fine-print and obligations that come with credit-card purchases, let alone the percentage of interest that’s involved with that ungodly sum. And, now, we have to somehow prepare to provide for 78 million people that’ll be retiring over the next 35 years. Meanwhile, oil’s over $100 a barrel, people are having their homes foreclosed on across the country, the country owns a $6 trillion trade deficit, and the dreaded ‘R’ word’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue.