KE Cellars

Will we ever get serious?

iou note

Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, May 18, 2012.

Do you have an extra $520,000 you can lay hands on (emphasis on the word “extra”)? If so, go on living your life as you see fit because you’re not affected by what I’m about to say.

But for everyone else if taking $520,000 out of your checking account would put you in overdraft, or if selling $520,000 worth of assets and handing over the proceeds would seriously affect your net worth, of if a $520,000 decline in your retirement assets balances would negatively affect the prospects for your golden years, or if making principal and interest payments on $520,000 over time would crimp your monthly cash flow, it’s time to pay close attention.

The government has borrowed money over your signature and made promises in your name to the point that your household now owes $520,000. Between the national debt, now approaching $16 trillion, and the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, now somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 trillion, your household is on the hook for just over five hundred large.

That would be bad enough. But the story is made manifestly worse by the fact that that 500-K obligation is growing. That’s because not only does the government continue to borrow money and make promises in your name, it’s doing so at an ever-increasing clip.

This is not abstract. This is not one of those illustrations like how many round trips to the moon can you make if you lay one dollar bills end-to-end.

This is all very real. You owe this money. That $116 trillion is going to have to be paid, your household’s share is $520,000 and you will be paying it. If you die before it’s paid, it falls on your kids.

Picture this in your mind as vividly as you can. Use whatever illustration it takes to make it real in your mind. Imagine that in addition to your existing mortgage, you have an additional $520,000 mortgage that you will be required to pay.

Using the housing illustration, consider that the value of the average home in America is about $220,000. Thus that $520,000 you owe is like having to pay the principal and interest on mortgages for two houses that you will never live in.

The $520K may not bother you because you’re happy with all the government goodies you’re getting. But know this, the goodies are going to come to a screeching halt, one way or the other and that fact should be obvious.

As surely as owing $520,000 will sink you personally it will sink the country.

So where is the outrage? When are we going to get serious? We’re wrapped up in gay marriage and class envy. When will we address the one threat that can actually defeat us?

I’m no fan of FDR, but give the man credit. He convinced Americans to go all-in toward winning World War II. He got Americans to put up with shortages of meat, gasoline, milk, butter, eggs and nylons. He got and kept the country behind him even as more than 400,000 of its young men, taken from their homes by the draft, never returned.

Yet the threat to the country today is much worse than the threats it faced in World War II. Is Obama the person to lead on this issue the way FDR led in World War II? I don’t think so but is Romney?

More important, if either of them gave it to you straight, and told you that your government goodies were going to be trimmed the way FDR said that meat and butter were going to be rationed in World War II; would you follow their leadership?

To put the sharpest point possible on it; do you have in you the character that drove your parents and grandparents to make the necessary sacrifices to overcome the existential threat that confronted them in 1940?

Carefully consider your answer. It determines the fate of the country.


  1. Bob Martin says:

    Paul, I totally agree with you As long as we have people going to Washington for what they can get. Where is the candidate who puts the country ahead of his own agenda? Members of the Congress and Senate should start cuts with their own benefits and salary. What happened to go to Washington as a public Service?

    Thanks for your comments.

  2. Would you rather have the 25% unemployment, soup lines, hobo camps, and the severity America faced in the Great Depression PLUS two wars and GM’s death? I think not, but that was the choice Republicans and Democrats faced in 2008. To our leader’s credit, they dodged those bullets leaving us with debt. Not good, but manageable given the much worse alternatives. I only hope we successfully navigate the straits between rocks and hard places to drive down unemployment and reduce debt. Single minded focus on either debt or unemployment will destroy our ship of state. Let’s navigate down the middle.

    And the long term solution is for Americans to upgrade skills, that is, education. It wins jobs in our increasingly competitive global economy. We’re not competing against Mississippi and Louisiana anymore. We’re competing against Japan, Germany, China, and a host of other up-and-coming peoples who want our jobs. We’ve got to be better to win jobs. Let’s get real about that – Americans have to go back to school.

  3. Linda E. Montrose says:

    Jim, I am afraid you fell for the koolaide obama put out there. The stimulus plans obama put out there did NOTHING to help, in fact, it HINDERED! GM would have been best left to FAIL, not prop up as another “government” asset(?). NOTHING obama has done has helped the failing economy or promote JOBS! The ONLY thing obama has done is put this country in dire straights economically. What did you not understand about obama putting this Country’s credit rating in jeopardy and having it, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN IT’S HISTORY, down-graded? obama has not made a budget in three years, probably because it would show the American people just what a MESS he has us in!
    As far as schooling, why should we invest in an “education” when there are NO JOBS to graduate to? There are already more college grads who can not find jobs to match their skills! How are they going to pay back the loans…flipping hamburgers? If our kids were getting an education instead of indoctrination, they would have life skills to see them through. OUR WHOLE system of government needs overhauling if we are EVER going to get back on track! We need LESS government…NOT more! It is TIME to take a good HARD look at what is REALLY going on and make the changes needed to STOP this madness! We HAVE to make changes in the spending that has, for far too long, gone unchecked! We can NOT spend our way into prosperity, but we can damn sure spend our way into a grave and THAT is exactly what we are digging with this man in the whitehouse!

  4. Dr. Randolph Terry says:

    Paul, the sad reality is that the tab is over a million dollars for those households who are actually paying federal income taxes; although there are some other taxes that every person pays. This burden will only get greater with every passing year of overspending, and more taxpayers leaving the tax rolls. Those who are in the category of takers, as opposed to makers, could not care less. Furthermore,they do not seem to expect that their children and grandchildren will be in a position that they will be affected either. This is a sad commentary, and I fear obituary for our wonderful country.

  5. Gail Shipley says:

    We haven’t been serious about our budget since Bill Clinton was in office. Sad for him, he couldn’t behave himself and his ability to balance a budget and work w/ Newt was overlooked. It’s just that few people threw a fit when Bush was spending us into oblivion.

  6. Joe Pine says:

    That fact that we continue to send representatives to DC who tolerate this rape term after term says as much about us as it does about them. Sad.

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