Monday, January 15, 2007

The Budget Debacle

With apologies to accountants, that’s one career I never yearned for. I admire their ability to work with numbers, but that is not my forte. In fact, it is my belief that most individual are bored with numbers — that’s why we have accountants, because they are good at it. That’s also the reason I hesitated to write this article — it’s about numbers — dollars really. But they’re your dollars so perhaps you will be interested after all.

There is a fascinating web site (actually more than one if you Google the subject) that provides a debt clock that tracks the federal deficit, changing every second:

National Debt

At the time of this writing, on December 19 th, at around 9:48 PM, the gross deficit for the federal government was $8,617,077,333,949 (that’s trillion). That is an astounding, mind-boggling number that is increasing by an equally shocking $134 billon per day, and unlike other official government statistics, does include money borrowed from Social Security and other government trust funds that are not usually counted as debt but should be. Here is what should interest you as a taxpayer: you and every member of your family owe $28,864 as part of the nation’s debt. (The above website also explains the president’s claim that he is on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009 — not so.

If you think those numbers are alarming, how about this projection?: “…the U.S. national debt, now reaching $9 trillion, will grow to about $46 trillion in the next few decades if the country doesn’t reinstate fiscal sanity to its budget–making process.” The article I quote from goes on to report, “None of this should shock anyone. This coming crunch has been predicted for years. Yet our leaders in Washington haven’t addressed the looming disaster, largely because the U.S. public has let them get away with fiscal recklessness.” Now, what left-wing liberal think-tank wrote that libel?

Actually, the above quotes are from the editorial page in The Wall Street Journal about three months ago, a publication not exactly known for its liberal politics. The editorial cited the fact that the Comptroller General of the U.S., David Walker, who also heads the Government Accountability Office, has been traveling the country in an effort to publicize the problem. I rarely agree with any of the Wall Street Journal’s editorials, but I applaud them for this one as well as for the following ending statement: “This must stop with the 100 th Congress that takes office in January. But it’s only going to end if enough people listen to Walker and others sounding similar alarms. It’s time for belt tightening [and the total elimination of earmarks] before we end up like some Third World IMF ward.” Amen!!! There — that wasn’t too bad to decipher, was it?

Click here to view the next article titled "Index Funds — Boring! Boring!"


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