Debt Problem Real, and Our Leaders Asleep at Wheel

I’ve been reading a book I received as a Christmas gift from my son, Broke, by Glenn Beck.  I’m about halfway through it.  I thought it would be an easy read, because it’s not very long.  I was wrong.  Very wrong. 

This book outlines the real trouble our economy is in, and the history of how we got to this point.  It also points out that recovering from this danger, with our current leaders, will be tough, unless the jerks driving this bus wake up and start driving. 

I just read a little bit about the way debt is calculated by our government.  Instead of using generally accepted accounting practices, or GAAP, they instead use three different methods along with some GAAP’s.  Neither of these methods are accurate.   The methods, unified cash basis, modified accrual basis, and on budget/off budget all have their strong and weak points, but none of these methods accurately represent our budget, and therefore our debt.  The kicker is the on budget/off budget part.  The government determines which programs to include in budgetary numbers, and which ones to leave out.  They also cook the books when it comes to revenue.  Since the Social Security fund usually operates at a surplus, and the general fund usually operates at a deficit, the government has a neat little trick they pull:  they borrow the money from the Social Security fund and put it in the general fund to make the deficit look smaller. 

Sound Enronish?  If a private company did this, their CEO’s, CFO’s, managers and maybe the janitors would all be strung up by their thumbs and pelted with rotting vegetables.  The media would scream about corporate corruption and demand heads on platters.  If you don’t beleive me, check some of the noise the media generated during the Enron investigation.  After all, Enron did some of the same stuff the Federal Government gets away with all the time.  And Ken Lay, Enron’s CEO, was, rightfully, punished.  Enron went out of business, stockholders lost their money, and a lot of people lost their jobs. 

Why is it different with government?  Why don’t we hold government to the same standards we hold our private businesses to? 

Most people don’t know what in the hell government is doing.  And, since government doesn’t have to turn a profit, nobody cares how much money they spend on obscene art projects or sending college students to China to study bugs.  It’s the government, right?  They have an unlimited supply of money, right? 

WRONG.  Our government is $13 trillion in debt.  Each family’s share of the debt is about $50,000.  Money the family didn’t spend.  Their government WASTED their money on stuff the family will probably never use.  And now, there’s all this debt. 

All this information is the reason I chuckle out loud when I hear politicians talk about spending cuts and tax increases.  These guys can’t possibly cut enough fat by firing their staff and walking to work to pay down the debt.  It will take a huge amount of sacrifice by ALL OF US to get this done.  I think the sacrifice should start in Washington.  Our leaders need to quit worrying about the political capital they are expending to do the right things, and just do the right things.  Less regulation, lower taxes, fewer lawyers, no lobbyists looking for money for a company or industry.  No more farm subsidies, no more welfare, and serious reforms for Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.  I said everybody should sacrifice.  Some of the sacrifice can come from people who are paid NOT to work. 

Let’s hope the new congress can get the bus pointed in the right direction.  Otherwise, it will be time again in two years for a new group of drivers.


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