Our debt is our curse
Several times in the past four years I have written about how everything in our modern society is linked. I would like to discuss again our national debt.
Our debt has ballooned to $23 trillion. This is substantially more than our annual gross domestic product. It is a number that is unimaginable to anyone but scientists and mathematicians. How did we allow ourselves to get into this kind of debt; and, more importantly, how do we get out of it? I have stated many times that I consider our national debt to be our biggest problem, because it prevents us from solving many other problems and is the one that no one wants to discuss. We have dug the hole so deep that it may no longer be possible to extricate ourselves.
The only way to attack the debt is to not only eliminate deficit spending but achieve a budget surplus. There are only two ways to accomplish this; increase revenue or decrease spending. Cutting spending dramatically is probably not realistic because of the way many spending bills are written; they are self-perpetuating. The government has, over the past 90 years, made us so dependent upon its spending that many people could not live without government programs.
Therefore, we must increase revenue. There are only two ways to do this: increase taxes or increase the tax base. Increasing taxes cannot work. It takes money that people would otherwise spend on goods and gives it to the government to pay on our debt. The economy cannot grow under this condition, so there can be no expansion of the tax base, no increase in manufacturing and no additional employment, and no removal of people from the welfare rolls; people are still dependent upon the government for their subsistence, so spending is not decreased.
That leaves expansion of the tax base. For decades we have been running a half a trillion dollar per year foreign trade deficit. This is money that is going to foreign governments and for which we get nothing. Eliminating the foreign trade deficit and bringing manufacturing back to America is what President Trump campaigned on in 2016 and has been working toward since his inauguration. We have made dramatic progress in the past three years, but we have a very long way to go; and it will take a long time before we see a surplus in our budget.
If we had not dug this cavernous hole over the years, we would have the money to fix our infrastructure and our environment, and to provide health care, education and all of the other things that our current politicians are promising and our people desire. Instead of making idle promises, how about fixing the problem that is making all of these promises impossible? It could be done in just 50 years if we really put our minds to it.
LAWRENCE D. WEBER