The world’s in a tizzy over Greece’s bailout by the European Union. And, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Many in this country are already forming vigilante crowds armed with torches and pitchforks going after Barack Obama for “bailing out Greece.” The fact is that he has made no such pitch and won’t, but that’s beside the point for those that love to hate Barack Obama.
I’m no financial expert, nor have I ever claimed to be one. And, while I, a lifelong Republican, voted for Barack Obama, I’m as disappointed in his performance to date as any anyone can be. I’m not defending him here, either. But, I would like to look at the financial mess this country’s in and put it into a perspective even abject dummies can understand.
Our politicians won’t tell us the truth about this stuff because doing so will be bad news and we don’t vote for people that give us bad news. Oh, we never tell them this is the reason for voting against them; that would be so gauche. No, we’ll use the guise of myriad other mindless “gotchas” for THAT task.
Call it what you want, but the fact is that we’ve been politically executing the messenger for decades in this country and it’s reached a point of becoming a national pastime, not to mention an international joke.
What’s happening in Greece is no fluke. It’s what happens when a country’s political leaders perpetually spend beyond any means of paying it back to the public treasury and keep passing it off for the next generation to take care of. And, it isn’t a question of whether this CAN happen in this country, but rather a question of WHEN it will happen. And, it’s going to be soon!
While many think that it’s already happened here and we’re on the recovery upswing, it’s time to finally realize that we’ve been on the same spending frenzy as the Greeks have been; only we’ve been doing it longer, with far less restraint, and using different rationalizations.
Greece will happen here. It will be sooner rather than later and when it does happen, there will be NO ONE to bail out the United States of America. Draconian measures do not begin to describe what will take place in this country. So get ready to see secure government pensions and social security payments all but disappear. As for me, I’m just grateful to be nearer the end than the middle.
“A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” These words came from the late Republican Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen. And, while the folks over at the Dirksen Center deny that he ever said it, I was watching the Johnny Carson Show in 1966 the night he made the statement.
Both Carson and his audience roared with laughter. Back in those days, it was still quite a feat for people to become mere millionaires. A billion dollars was a ton of money, unimaginable really. Speaking in terms of a BILLION dollars was akin to speaking in terms of a TRILLION dollars today; it’s a real number but hard to actually count that high.
Today, a million-dollar retirement account wouldn’t yield enough yearly interest to pay your annual health insurance premium. Our national debt is almost 13-TRILLION dollars ($13 plus TWELVE zeros). It would take 13-million millionaires to pay it off and that’s assuming they’d have nothing else to do with their money but give it to the national treasury.
How did it get so high? The United States Congress, THAT’S how. And they’ve had lots of help along the way, not only from every U. S. President, but also from seemingly unlimited special interests. And we, the voters, have done our level best to aid and abet in the process as well. We hate bad news and reward good news even when it’s a lie simply because it makes us feel good.
The Beltway in Washington, DC has become an uncontrollable spending frenzy where a $100-billion expenditure is chump change, a paltry $10-billion payoff is a cost of doing business, and a measly $1.5- to $2-billion is a simple little rounding error. And, as a rule of late, we don’t even give a second thought to the fact that our leaders have BORROWED every penny of it!
For decades, our political leaders have been using the credit card well beyond an approved credit limit. And for decades, they have approved rampant increases in that credit limit. They’ve grown unthinkingly careless in passing the bill on to subsequent generations to pay simply because they’ve valued reelection over the welfare of the nation.
Years ago, they developed an insatiable desire to hear themselves talk. They’ve come to take their own press as Biblical affirmations of truth. And, since the future always seemed such a distant speck on the financial horizon, we’d have plenty of time to bail ourselves out.
Well, the bill has arrived and the minimum payment due is so horrendously high that it’s frightening. And WE’RE the generation that has to begin paying it. It’s going to get worse, too; Greece’s social and financial turmoil will look like fun stuff compared to what’s in our future.
At one point in our history, it was not very difficult to tell the difference between deft prose and pure bullshit. About 40-years ago, ever so subtly, that began changing. Today, it’s become virtually impossible to tell the difference and in those areas where it is possible, the futility of fighting special interests trumps the possibility of real change every time.
News has become outdated. Entertainment is what counts today. Facts and factoids have melded together. People no longer use the term, “true facts” jokingly. I intentionally named this BLOG The True Facts in honor of a handy little tautology aimed at making fun of the jackasses that actually think legitimate facts are “false.”
And, politicians know it, too. Given our complete apathy over matters political, adept politicians know that all they have to do is provide enough voters with a fraud they can believe in, and getting elected becomes a sheer breeze.
For the record, the average lifespan of the great representative democracies of the world has been about 200-years. Their downward spirals into the abyss of oblivion and defeat all began when their citizens found out that they could vote themselves money from the public till simply by electing the “right” people.
We’ve crossed the 230-year mark and we’ve made raiding the public till for the “good of the people” an art form, only we’ve been BORROWING the money. It’s all part of what happens when a society of people buys into the notion that learning to live with a more acceptable level of misery is the same as happiness and contentment.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.