Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Real Issue

If you have not yet watched this video, please do. Not only is it funny and nonpartisan (really, no political group is mentioned, bashed, or blamed), but it is also deeply alarming and explains the national debt and budget situation in a way that's easy to understand.

This is probably the first time in my life I have been completely UNpartisan (not to be confused with NONpartisan, which has a more neutral connotation). Maybe ANTIpartisan is a better descriptor. I am so over politics and games and mudslinging. I hate the GOP for choosing to take a stand NOW--it's too little, too late, and it's punishing regular people. I hate the libs for smugly putting policy and politics over practicality, and I hate that they're in no hurry to compromise because they like that the shutdown makes the republicans look bad. The whole situation is so tacky and is an excellent example of why I think politicians have no souls. 

I have strong opinions on party politics, Obamacare, social security, medicare, medicaid, and government organizations and their employees and their ridiculous pension and benefit packages, as I would hope most Americans do. But honestly, right now, none of that stuff really matters to me because as passionate as I am about all of those issues, those concerns are completely eclipsed by the staggering problem that is our nation's financial situation. Regardless of how good or bad certain legislation makes you feel, you can't argue with math. Math has no passions, no bias, no agenda. And the simple fact of the matter is that our government is spending itself (and us! and our children! and our great-great-great-great-great grandchildren!) into oblivion. They have dug such a deep hole that there is quickly becoming no possible way out, which makes us have to pander to countries like China, and--let's be real here--does anyone want CHINA involved with how our country is run? 

And, sure, I'm concerned about the national debt. But my MAIN concern is that it's growing! That our government has a "budget" that runs an enormously huge deficit every year! That we will never actually get to start paying down the national debt because our government is making minimum payments on their maxed-out credit cards at the same time they're applying for new ones. Except on a HUGE scale, and they have no bank to slap them in the face and say, "Your spending patterns are unsustainable. We refuse to enable this behavior any longer."

Imagine you make $40K a year; that's a decent wage. Now imagine you SPEND $70K a year. And not just this year, but next year, too. And the year after that. And so on. So, every year, you're taking on another $30,000 in debt. After a certain point, you're not going to qualify for credit cards or loans anymore (as you shouldn't, because let's face it--you're out of control). Even if you cut back on your spending, even if you cut back $15,000 a year--heck, even if you cut back $29,900 a year--you're still piling up more and more debt. There comes a certain point where you're in so deep there's no way out, and our government is way PAST that point. The difference between your imaginary situation and our country's is that the government owns a printing press they can use to just "make" more money. Which is great for them, but really sucks for the rest of us (and the rest of the world), because flooding the market with money spikes inflation, making your money worth less, driving prices up, and disrupting the global economy (which I do not pretend to understand the mechanics of). 

So, while I know we all have different opinions and diverse political leanings, we as a people need to cheer when the government cuts funding for things, even when it hurts. At this point, I don't much care what gets cut, because, frankly, EVERYTHING needs to be cut. We are in a mess. We were all super judgmental about Greece when the people rioted about austerity measures even though their government spending was out of control, and here we are in the same situation. Bring on austerity. Bring on "reforms" that actually slash spending instead of spiking funding. Once our yearly budget and spending is under control, we can pick up the pieces and focus on making the money we do have stretch farther by being more efficient and practical. 

This current shutdown, this inability of our nation's leaders to compromise or see issues without partisan glasses on is sickening. Decisions need to be made that are unpopular. Maybe these politicians won't be re-elected if they make their constituents angry, but when did governing become all about winning elections? It's time to take responsibility, to put the nation's future ahead of party lines or pet legislation or well-meaning but deeply impractical ideologies. It's time to be honest and practical about our nation's finances. 

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