The great physicist Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that to every action there is always an opposed and equal reaction; the national debt and the budget deficit issue we are facing did not simply fall out of a tree, they were created. They have causes that are deeply rooted in our national history and they will likely have devastating effects not only on my generation of 20-something college students, but on our children, and their children, etc. By not dealing with the issue right now, we are only allowing it to snowball into an even bigger problem. We are passing on the buck to the next generation of 20-something college students and history will remember that. In order to rectify our indifference to this issue, we must look at the causes and effects of the growing deficit and national debt so we can change the lives of those to come.
As the Great Depression of the 1930s had causes and effects, so to do the fourteen digits of our national debt. Looking back in history, there have been obvious times when the country has had no other choice but to borrow money, such as the breakout of war. The events of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II are such instances when loans have been taken out by our nation. Our continued military involvement in several different countries, especially Iraq, has only added to our debt. We have spent hundreds of trillions of dollars on the war effort, dollars that we didn’t have to begin with. Combine the initial war spending with the millions that go towards maintaining troops and rebuilding, we spend billions of dollars every month to continue our military agenda. This spending is a major cause of our mounting national debt.
There is no doubt that the recent economic crash and the numerous financial bailouts have increased our debt as a nation. Huge companies, banks, and even the average American is looking for help from the stimulus plan; but this again is money that the government doesn’t have. The nation has been taking out loans from countries like China, Singapore, and Japan to fund the bailout and hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel. Many Asiatic nations hold vast amounts of our national debt, in many cases more than their own national debt. This could have implications for us in the future; so many nations holding parts of our debt could diminish our global role and influence in the coming years as more of our dollars are sent to Europe or Asia. Allowing these loans and their interest to increase draws more and more of our funds overseas rather than investing in our own nation. It also adds more loans to our debt that will need to be repaid, but whether or not the government will be held accountable is yet to be seen.
When we look at the causes of our growing national debt, the effects that could manifest themselves in the future are plain to see. Because so much of our national debt is held by predominately Asian countries, we have become a liability to the rest of the world. As we have seen with the recent economic fall out of the housing market, our situations here on the home front affect those as far away as Norway and China. This could hinder our trade relations as well as political ties. There are also domestic consequences that everyone seems to be either ignoring or sweeping under the rug. The more we allow these things to fester, the bigger of a problem they will become.
Our nation has a bad habit of spending money that they don’t have; this we have established. But not all of that unwise spending is going overseas. A substantial amount of our debt has been procured through the Social Security system, which the government no longer has the funds for. As the baby-boomers begin to retire en masse in 10 or so years, it will be like the bank panic of the 1930’s-everyone will withdraw at once, putting an enormous weight on those of us still in the work force. While their generation may get benefits from programs such as Social Security and Medicare, my generation will get an IOU slip. This problem especially needs to be solved within the next several years, or will have an even larger problem on our hands when these older generations begin to leave the workforce. The economic problems we will face in the future won’t even compare to today if we as a nation don’t try and do something to try and resolve the issue of overspending and drawing out loans for both oversea ventures and programs here at home.
As Americans, we no longer have a collective sense of history. Maybe this is why the lessons of soup lines and tent cities of the Great Depression were not heeded. More Americans are using soup kitchens as a main resource, and tent cities are cropping up in parks and abandoned lots. Unemployment has skyrocketed, as have prices for almost every good. Ignoring the problems we have as a nation, not urging our politicians to try every idea they have, and believing that cutting taxes will do the trick is simply nonsense. We cannot bury our heads in the sand; we have to involve ourselves before we end up on the street, or receiving that IOU slip from the government.