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Cutting the Card – Debt Ceiling Debate

When we send our kids off to college with a credit card, we trust them to use it judiciously, for necessities and emergencies.

Too often, when that well-adjusted, highly responsible person we thought we knew gets out of our sight, the lure of the impulse purchase overtakes the good sense we know they’ve got.

They feel the need to keep up with their friends. They justify unneeded purchases by employing such creative reasoning that we can’t help but be a little proud, if not for that glaring red indictment on bottom line.

And if they’ve gone completely hog-wild with the purchase power, and maxed-out the card, there are only two real options…

We call the company to raise the spending limit- or we cut the card.

Those supposedly responsible folks we’ve sent to Washington, D.C., the ones who swore to spend our hard-earned tax dollars only for necessities and emergencies, have gone completely hog-wild with purchase power. They’ve maxed out our national credit. Now we’re faced with only two real options…

We allow them to raise the debt ceiling.

Or we cut the government credit card.

Both alternatives have inherent problems. Raising the debt ceiling is a false fix. It actually doesn’t ‘fix’ anything, merely allows us to kick the debt can a little farther down the road while we hope for some miracle to change reality.

Not only does raising the debt ceiling worsen the problem, it drags our children and grand-children down that same barren road. The most frightening aspect of this option is that while it enables us to keep playing kick the can just a little longer, the road we’re kicking it down gets cut shorter.

The only other viable course of action is to cut the card. Quit spending. Go into bare-bones necessity and emergency spending mode.

The troubles with cutting the card are many, though that’s the route that will more likely enable us to get off the debt track and back onto the self-secure highway.

For starters, all those expensive programs and entitlements that would be cut are beloved. One man’s pork is another man’s precious funding, and no one wants to be the one to ‘pull the plug on Grandma’, as the Democrats put it. Funny, but they seem to have no problem putting our children in chains, making them slaves to those who hold debt they aren’t responsible for.

Medicare, Social Security, funding for social programs and arts and entitlements, these are among the sacred cows that evoke knee-jerk, hysterical reactions at the mere whisper of reduced funding. All are as creatively and vociferously rationalized as a college freshman defending that credit card statement to bewildered and disappointed parents. During the recent budget discussion in the House, former speaker Nancy Pelosi tossed about phrases like “investing in our future” and “honoring our elderly”, catch-word phrases meant to yank at our heartstrings.

It is indeed worthy to invest in our children’s future. But if we don’t take drastic action now, their future will be one spent in shackles of indenture to countries like China. Countries whose interests and values are the antithesis of a free society. Nations who suppress opposing viewpoints. Governments who incarcerate those who speak out against their leaders.

Perhaps Madame-former-speaker could explain how handing our children over to the very conditions our grandparents fought and died to prevent is, in any way, “honoring” them?

We stare into the face of a national deficit so deep most of us can hardly fathom its true immensity. And while some of our elected public servants, up to and including the Public Servant in Chief, try to rationalize and justify more spending as ‘winning the future’, it’s time to get honest about our situation in the here and now.

Programs are nice. Project have benefits. Entitlements create a comfort zone. And no one disputes that we want our society and our children to grow, to advance, to be more than we once were. No one disputes that we want to ‘invest’ in our future or ‘honor’ our past.

But there’s a time to grow the tree, and a time to prune branches that have grown out of control, in order for the tree to thrive.

The cold, hard reality is that we as a nation must cut back now, and cut back hard. Nobody says the cuts must be permanent. Once we’re clear of the overwhelming debt looming over our heads, reinvestment could restart. But you don’t (or at least you shouldn’t) splurge on a shiny new flat-screen t.v. when you can’t afford to put food on the table.

And it’s not just the government that needs to get the splurging out of its system.

Uncle Sam isn’t alone on the list of culprits causing our condition. Unions have earned their share of the guilt, forcing prices higher by forcing companies into lucrative benefit packages and ever-increasing wages for their members. They shoulder a fair amount of responsibility for companies seeking out less-expensive pastures, driving businesses out of states once heralded as beacons of industry. Detroit, once the gem in the crown of American ingenuity, sits as a hollow shell of its former self.

We as individuals share the blame for the condition we’re in.

We’ve grown accustomed during boom times to instant gratification, to the feeling of entitlement to luxury, to the availability of cheap goods. It’s hard to tell our children “no, we can’t afford that new video game today” when all their friends are raving about it.

By gravitating to the cheaper goods, we’ve all but driven American industry out of America. We don’t want to pay twice as much for an item just because it supports our economy. We’d rather buy the less expensive version, even if it means another U.S. company has to close its doors and put workers into the unemployment lines. We’d rather pay less at the register, despite the fact that some underpaid worker overseas is slaving away to make that price happen.

Until we get our own spending under control, our elected public servants, including the Public Servant in Chief, will have a hard time taking us seriously when we tell them:

“Cut up that card!”

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  1. T. Paine says:

    Alice,

    You understand the problem as do I, but far too many of the electorate haven’t a clue what the debt debate is all about. They listen to sound bites and the warnings from their favorite political pundits and base their opinions on what they hear; and as we both know what they often hear is a gross misrepresentation of fact intended to support a political agenda.

    Until we can get the attention of the average voter, pull them away from “Dancing with the Stars or ESPN, we’ll continue down the road to catastrophe. Unfortunately, I suspect that the majority will not awaken until the crisis is so severe that it will be impossible to repair.

    • Agreed, we’re allowing ourselves to be Info-tained into slavery!

      I think a vast majority of voters, those who bother to get out and exercise that liberty, either:
      a) trust their chosen punditry source to accurately inform them (which is one of the reasons we’re in the state we’re in); or,
      b) too overwhelmed to contemplate the entirety of our situation, thus they tune it all out, seeking the mind-numbing fake drama of un-reality tv or other such drivel.
      When we can get so irate or emotionally invested in a football team (though I do love football) or ‘housewives’ show, or other such disconnection, rather than finding out the truth about those who would lead us, then we’ve got some serious, serious work ahead of us, my friend.
      Keep fighting the good fight. We are the legacy of our founders, it’s our responsibility to maintain and defend that legacy for our children.