America the Indebted

Many years ago, I started feeling really astonished at the amount of money that the United States would pour into “investments” that provided little (if any) return.  One case in point is our unprovoked attack on Iraq.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, the costs of this war clock in at trillions of dollars, and we’re not borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars per day.  At the same time, the Bush Administration has dramatically cut (or diverted) funding from education, science, the environment, and truly important issues that could improve our world.  It’s difficult to justify, yet Americans still seem to be largely ignorant of the magnitude of these issues.

Michael Hodges has created a site titled the Grandfather Economic Report series.  While the site layout and graphs are unlikely to win any presentation-related awards, the information is interesting (and sobering).  Here are some statistics from the introduction:

America has become more a debt ‘junkie’ – – than ever before
with total debt of $48 Trillion – – and the highest debt ratio in history.

That’s $161,287 per man, woman and child – – or $645,148 per family of 4,
$45,514 more debt per family than last year.

Last year total debt increased $3.9 Trillion, 5 times more than GDP.
External debt owed foreign interests increased $1 Trillion;
Household, business and financial sector debt soared 9%.

72% ($35 trillion) of total debt was created since 1990,
a period primarily driven by debt instead of by productive activity.

And, the above does not include un-funded pensions and medical promises.

Sadly, the fact that we’re putting such little money into education means that most Americans are completely helpless to understand the magnitude of these numbers and their potential impact on society.  Many seem to barely understand the costs of personal debt, even with credit card interest rates that are nearly 30%. 

What bothers me most, however, is that very few Americans are even aware of this problem.  They’ll complain incessantly about gasoline prices while the financial foundation of this country could be on the verge of crumbling.  They’ll support pointless wars while funding for children’s healthcare is slashed.  I don’t see any of this changing anytime soon, but a step in the right direction would be to elect an intelligent President.  One ray of hope is that just about anyone would be smarter than George Bush.  Still, just paying off our current debts seems almost insurmountable, even if we enjoyed decades of prosperity.  If only there were an international bankruptcy law…

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1 Comment

  1. wanderer7 said,

    March 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    having debt is good … spending money you don’t have. and if you never pay it back ….


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