It was 1963, and I was a 16 year old high school junior, sitting attentively in an American History class, when our history teacher informed us that the national debt was 311.6 billion dollars. Being good at math even then, it was not difficult, knowing the population stood at about 180 million in 1963, that the debt amount to approximately 1600.00 for every adult and minor child in America. My reaction, even at age 16, was one of concern and mild alarm. In 1963, 1600.00 was no small sum of money for the typical American; adjusted for ” inflation “, today that sum is roughly equivalent to at least 8000.00, and for a typical American, remains a considerable sum of money.
Back in 1963 however, the ensuing half-century of America’s wild ride of financial misadventures, and a ” Wild West Gunslinger ” mentality in all levels of government, of ” shoot money at everything first, and ask what it costs later ” ( if anyone asked the cost at all ) was just seriously getting underway. As late as 1963, America’s total debt was substantially the result of understandable deficit spending to win the Second World War ($226 billion) and literally save the civilized world from totalitarian Fascists known as the Axis Powers. In 1963, the WW II borrowing accounted for 72% of the national debt. However, It did still give me pause for concern, even in high school, that someone in Washington, D.C. ought to have taken steps over the course of 18 postwar years of unprecedented economic prosperity, to establish and implement a plan setting aside budgeted tax revenue for repayment and eventual retirement of that ” huge “national debt.
In 1963, America was yet to sink herself in the decade-long quagmire and massive deficit spending on our ultimate military debacle known as the Vietnam War. President John F. Kennedy was yet to be assassinated, and to be replaced by that ” Great Pretender “, and ” Closet Socialist “, Lyndon B. Johnson, as President. By 1965, this disgraceful left-wing President, armed with his veto-proof Democratic and liberal majorities in both houses of Congress, was selling a false narrative to American voters that we could have both ” Guns and Butter “. Translated, this meant selling the American people with his unmitigated gall, the preposterous notion that we could borrow tens of billions of 1960s dollars every year on a useless war in Asia, borrow tens of billions of dollars each year to throw down the toilet on equally worthless ” war on poverty ” welfare state giveaways, and somehow build what L.B.J. coined as the “Great Society ”
A math and history lesson for politicians: keeping in perspective, that about a hundred billion borrowed dollars were thrown away for ” Guns and Butter ” ( the tragic Vietnam War and the creation of the Welfare State ) over just ten years. Our far-left President, L.B.J. and his equally leftist, compliant Congress also enacted the “Immigration Reform Act ” of 1965. That act, which, despite bald-faced lies told to Americans at the time of the ” minimal impact, culturally, demographically and financially ” has instead reaped economic, social, cultural and financial catastrophe in America. For the past 50 years, it played the major role, along with the also major role, of other unnecessary wars and military misadventures, in running up the national debt to the unimaginable 18 trillion dollars and climbing, where it stands today.
We must not fail to recall that Republican George W. Bush, generally considered a ” RINO ” like brother Jeb, was adding $500 billion a year to our debt. Then of course, came the single worst event ever to happen to America; Barack Hussein Obama became ” President “, and the debt increases soared to a trillion dollars a year. Now in 2015, with the population up to about 320 million, today’s per-capita debt amounts to about 56,000 dollars.
Over the last 50 years Americans have suffered the effects of massive wasteful and disgraceful spending of borrowed money for social welfare giveaways, military misadventures, the opening of the floodgates for massive and unneeded legal and illegal immigration, and ill advised wars. The same federal government has also wasted unfathomable billions of borrowed money for creation of bloated, unnecessary cabinet departments and agencies, such as the Depts. of Education, Energy, Environmental Protection, Housing and Urban Development, and Homeland Security, among others. These depts. are all either duplication of services other depts, could perform, or are superfluous agencies whose chief role is expanding federal intrusion into state and local concerns.
Another math and history lesson for politicians, office holders, and American citizens: adjusted for ” inflation ” our national debt per person is about seven times larger than 50 years ago. “Irresponsible” does not begin to describe what we Americans have allowed our elected political leaders to do to us financially through our national debt,since 1965. The open and unanswered question herein, is ” where were the actuaries and accountants “? Why was our nation’s budget not kept under continual scrutiny and revenue adjusted to expenditures to balance our budget? Why was no attempt ever made, to generate surpluses and thus pay off our national debt?
We also had learned, that under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, Congress had passed into law the Social Security Act. We understood from our parents and grandparents, along with our teachers, that this was government setting aside a small percentage of our earnings, to create a type of “old age pension to help us avoid living our old age in dire poverty.”. In the 80 years since Congressional action creating Social Security, the financial condition of the fund has become more nightmarish with each passing decade. It might be realistic to assess the financial straights of Social Security to be second only to that of the national debt. Where were the accountants and actuaries? If they had carefully examined the finances of the system and adjusted pay-in and pay-outs to keep the system in balance and sustainable long term, our current lack of financial support for Social Security and the National Government generally would not be in a state of crisis. All of this was entirely avoidable, and that, my fellow Americans, is criminal and treasonous.
Given all this factual history of America’s sorry finances, and the math lessons which, being not particularly difficult to learn, understand and apply-why are our budget deficits perennial, and our national debt perennially skyrocketing out of control? From liberal Democrats and the radical left, the mindset of tax, borrow and spend has been their legacy throughout American history.
The ” official ” message from Republicans and conservatives has reliably been to bring taxation and spending under control and reduce both the size of government and the huge budget deficits. Moreover, conservatives commonly incorporate commentary about the $18 trillion national debt and the fiscal crisis in Social Security into the political ” battle cry “. But as we are painfully aware, that ” battle cry ” during election campaigns by Republicans and conservative never managed to lead to a declaration of war on America’s fiscal insanity, once the election is won by conservative and Republicans. Paradoxically, each recent election cycle, the conservative candidates’ fiscal platform perennially links significant cuts in government spending with very similar size cuts in federal taxation. Pitched as smaller government and more money in the pockets of consumers, businesses and investors to grow the economy, the proposals are also pitched as creating higher tax revenues via economic growth. While this make for some good election sound bytes, is is not sound mathematics and poorly recalled American financial history as outlined earlier.
Conservative Presidential candidates for 2016 sorely need an American history and mathematics lesson on the federal budget; only by reductions in spending that are greater than any cuts in taxation will reduce budget deficits. Furthermore, the federal budget must bring in more revenue than is spent on various programs and run annual surpluses for many years to come, to have any real hope of reducing or paying off our national debt. This is the message on the math and American budget history, that conservatives simply must learn, and learn now: Drastic downsizing of the federal government, and perennial budget surpluses, must be part of the election platform. Only a conservative who gets elected on a platform of perennial budget surpluses to pay down our national debt, and, once in office, actually persuades Congress to act, will save America from the fiscal catastrophe that thus far, no administration has ever been willing or able to confront and enact.
The extreme urgency, that conservatives understand and apply these hard lessons in American financial history and practical budgetary math, lies in the scary reality that, unless America finally elects a conservative President in 2016 who will address the severe damages of the past 80 years, America’s economy is headed for a catastrophic crash from which any real recovery may not ever be possible. Cutting back severely on social welfare programs, and serious belt tightening across the board, stripping away layers of bloated bureaucracy, eliminating entire cabinet departments and agencies will not be popular with those affected. But such sweeping leadership to undo decades of irresponsible left wing fiscal brinkmanship is required in 2016 to save the tottering American economy.
Conservative Presidential candidates: please hearken to this message to create perennial surpluses, restore actuarially our Social Security fund to a sound footing, immediately after the 2016 Presidential election, in early 2017. After 2017, it is almost certainly too late for America, unless you act, act quickly, and act boldly. There is no more time to lose, else America as a nation is forever lost.
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