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Debt Is Sinking America

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Recent polls show the average American household is carrying around $15,000 in credit card debt.  Why?  Because for over 50 years, we’ve lived in the world of ‘I gotta have it now!’  Let’s face it, we are spoiled.  The poorest among us is still richer than seventy percent of the rest of the world.  I love capitalism.  I love our form of government.  No nation has survived so long under one form of government with so little friction.  But we love stuff.  Post-World War II, our appetite for stuff went into hyper-drive.  New cars, new homes, bigger homes!  Then comes the technology age.  First, the VCR, the Atari, the PC; fast forward a couple of decades and we’re headed toward the PlayStation, the internet, satelitte television with 46,000 channels, most of them with informercials selling you more stuff.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do well, to have nice things, live in a nice home, but somewhere along the way, all sense of responsibility was lost.  Buy now, pay later became the hook that lured everyone in.  Well folks, I think later is knocking on the door, banging on it actually.  Our government is just as guilty of irresponsibility as anyone.  Here’s a quote from USA Today:

The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for. This gap between spending commitments and revenue last year equals more than one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Get the picture?  Americans are in debt.  Massive debt.  Not just by their own hand, but by the hands of the very people we’ve elected to represent us.  Part of it is our own fault.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, these are so-called ‘entitlement programs’.  Why should you be ‘entitled’ to them?  One argument has been that these types of programs fall under the General Welfare clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, that Congress may:

“lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States.”
Frankly, I think we’ve carried it all much further than the founding fathers ever dreamed.  And if they had dreamed this, they’d have likely deemed it a nightmare.  The idea of ‘entitlements’ is killing us.  It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  Cradle-to-grave government does not work.  Socialism does not work.  Irresponsible, tax and spend, we’ll-do-as-we damn-well-please-government, does not work.  2012 is going to be an interesting year for us all.  I just hope we can still afford to have the satellite t.v. on so we can watch it all.

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