Imagine if the Berlin Wall was reconstructed with stacks of $100 dollar bills. If we used the US national debt, we could build this wall twice.
Pundits have been using odd metaphors to describe our country’s dire financial position ever since we started attempting to grasp the intangible numbers associated with the debt and deficits. Most people haven’t even seen $1000, much less $1 million.
The Berlin Wall metaphor offers more than a visual representation of a monstrosity of money 67 miles long, 12 feet tall, and eight inches thick; it symbolizes the amassing barrier standing between my generation and the future of the American dream.
The “road to serfdom” is starting to resemble a superhighway, and our financial freedoms will continue to crumble with every dollar we add to this $13 trillion wall.
Over the last ten years, the government entrapped us in a state similar to East Germany. We aren’t a Soviet satellite by any means, but the taxes resulting from our debt could be equally restricting.
Even if we choose to forgo paying the principle on the debt in the short term, the interest alone has the chance to cripple our economy. Right now, the interest on the debt is $250 billion, but by 2020, the interest is projected to be $800 billion — around $5500 per taxpayer.
Unless we add the current interest into the total debt, taxpayers will be forced to immediately pay this interest. This sort of a tax hike would paralyze this country’s small businesses and investors, ultimately leading to higher unemployment.
For college students like me, the picture doesn’t get any prettier as more baby-boomers begin to collect Social Security. The debt and the interest are projected to grow exponentially, and young Americans seem destined to pay this debt for the rest of our lives.
This predicament seems irreversible, but we must remember that we are Americans. Since 1776, the odds have been consistently stacked against us, and yet we’ve prevailed because our people had the courage to battle for the values we believe in.
Ronald Reagan helped stop the world trend of communism by demonstrating the advantages of freedom and liberty. We approach a pivotal time in history where we must use similar methods to reverse one of the longest standing trends in our nation: increased government spending.
For too long, we allowed our politicians to buy votes by ignoring the intent of the founders and creating a slew of federal programs. Ben Franklin wisely forecasted, “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
We’re guilty as charged.
The American people have consistency voted in politicians who stay popular by providing extensive government services to their constituents. Earmarks remain as the most cited example, but Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare were all enacted for that common purpose.
Governments are obligated to serve their constituents, but setting the country on a course for bankruptcy is not exactly service.
For years, Washington politicians have felt noble when spending other people’s money, and — worst of all — Americans have endorsed this behavior by granting them reelection. Come November, we must stop enabling this plunder.
Balancing the budget and paying off the debt while meeting all contractual agreements will be about as easy as putting a camel through the eye of a needle. The good news is we can stop adding to our symbolic wall by rising up and demanding action from our politicians. The bad news is we cannot precipitously bulldoze entitlements.
Many Americans have been promised services from the government and planned their lives around receiving benefits like Social Security. Our entitlement programs must be reformed gently enough to not hurt our seniors but quickly enough to not tank our economy with national bankruptcy.
The key is to begin disassembling our wall brick by brick by endorsing plans like Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America.” This map, instead of leading to economic serfdom, leads to keeping America as that “shining city upon a hill” for generations to come.
Ron Meyer hosts We the People Internet Radio Show and writes a weekly column for Human Events. He is a student at Principia College and a former National Journalism Center intern who has also written political opinion for AOL News and the Santa Barbara News-Press.