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We're Dancing Upon a House of Cards
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Essay by:Whitney Davis
Emporia State University
With the encroachment of bankruptcy among various social programs, such as social security, and the national debt rising at an all time high, we see an escalating dilemma for the American public. What is going to happen when our funnel of money runs dry? How do we stop the U.S. government from its relentless habit of borrowing and spending? There are many questions to be answered and many reforms to be made before the house of cards we’re dancing upon crumbles entirely.
The causes of our national debt are ample, both in numbers and complexity. Factors that have contributed to our national debt include, but are not limited to government investments, such as U.S. Savings Bonds, Treasury Notes, or Treasury Bills, among others. Everyday, individuals cash in these investments and the government has to find some way to pay them off. So, the government turns to the Social Security Trust Fund, foreign investors and governments, various corporations, as well as other government investments, such as the ones listed above, for money. Not only does it have to pay off these securities, the government has to find additional funding for its general bills, and other programs and policies, such as the many “bailout” programs we have seen lately, and Medicare and Medicaid.
The consequences that we will face, because of the situation in which we have found ourselves in, cound be detrimental to society and the American way of life. Not only will we be paying off our national debt for generations to come, we will also have a hard time not incurring more national debt in the process. The average American’s quality of life could be greatly diminished compared to those of our parents and some of our grandparents. Consumers might not have any money to buy goods, so businesses might fail, leading to unemployment rates that will skyrocket due to the employers not having any money to pay their wages. After that, we could see an even worse housing market than we see today, due to unemployed individuals not being able to pay their mortgages, and then the financial institutions that loaned the money will face further stress. As you know, it’s a vicious cycle that must be stopped before it’s too late, or before it simply ends and America runs out of money altogether.
So, what else can happen if we do nothing about this financial situation and continue spending money, as if it grows on trees? First, with all of the money that the government borrows, the interest rates have to rise. Second, with higher interest rates comes an increase in deficits, and with an increase in deficits comes a higher national debt, which incurs more interest due to the need to borrow more money to pay for national expenses. In theory, the government’s borrowing could become so excessive in this particular cycle that it will exceed the world economy’s supply. This will undoubtedly cause the house of cards to collapse, in other words, creating a world financial meltdown. Granted, that kind of situation is very unlikely, however, we still need to get a grip on our current financial problem as soon as possible.
Then, what are some solutions to the mountainous amount of debt that we are faced with? In my opinion, the major solution would be budget control. Let’s face it, the American federal government likes to spend money, and doesn’t always do so efficiently or for the best interest of the American people. Perhaps it has good intentions at heart, but the government’s involvement and interference in the lives of Americans can be rather toxic. There is a dire need to reduce unnecessary spending in the federal government. The bottom line is that the government needs to be smarter with our, the taxpayer’s, money.
Furthermore, we are faced with a huge problem with Social Security and other government funded aids. The majority of the population is aging rapidly, which means there are going to be more people who need Social Security funds than people putting funds into it. Essentially, I think that the age for Social Security needs to be raised. The population as a whole is living longer than ever before, therefore, we could work longer. I also think that making one’s retirement a personal responsibility is a viable option. The establishment and enforcement for stricter policies and regulations on programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid should be implemented as well. I totally support giving aid to those who need it, but it’s aggravating when people abuse the system. I have had the opportunity to work at a large doctor’s office in Wichita and have seen this kind of abuse firsthand. I have seen people on Medicaid who drive brand new cars, have on designer clothes, and carrying the nicest cell phone a person could have. It angers me to see money and resources being wasted on someone who abuses it, when there are thousands of more people who desperately need it. Medicare has similar issues as Social Security. I just think that the entire medical industry has gotten out of hand and it, too, should be reformed, because it is one of the biggest financial burdens of the U.S. government.
In short, the budget of our federal government needs to be analyzed and more efficiently controlled, the age of Social Security should be increased to a more realistic one, privatization of Social Security should be greatly considered, and there should be stricter policies and regulations on government funded aid programs. We, as Americans, need to take more responsibilities in the fiscal matters of our government and work collectively to achieve solutions to these massive problems. We need to work hard at making our feeble house of cards into a castle of stone, so America can persist at being one of the greatest countries on Earth.
»A new report finds the main problem in getting the public to deal with our fiscal problems isn't opposition to tax increases or spending cuts -- it's their lack of trust in the government to spend their money wisely.