Burden of deficit weighs heavily on youth

Daniel Morgan

Facts and figures about the national government’s deficit are often cited, but few understand the burden these outlays place on our generation.

Whenever a government’s expenses exceed revenue, it makes up the deficit by selling bonds.

Businesses suffer when investors buy government debt instead of investing in future productivity, and taxpayers — who pay back the deficit plus interest – face an even higher bill.

The deficit will be about $1.58 trillion in this fiscal year, according to official projections. The difference between what the government spends and collects is a dollar sign followed by the number 158 and 10 zeroes.

To put that number in perspective, $1.58 trillion could buy every man, woman and child in America 52 iPhones; pay the salary of 421,333 Les Mileses (Les Mili?) and finance 1,580,000,000,000 trips to Jack in the Box’s dollar menu.

In 2008, the U.S.’s gross domestic product – a measure of all final goods and services produced – was roughly $14 trillion.

Even after taxation, the federal government will have to borrow a sum roughly equal to 10 percent of our nation’s production to make ends meet.

And all that’s for just this year.

Each year’s deficit is thrown atop the previous deficits to produce the national debt. That number, more than $11.8 trillion, is something to give our generation pause.

Although the state’s supporters like to point to the poor’s plight, the majority of the budget has nothing to do with America’s low-income individuals. Medicaid and other need-based entitlements account for about 7 percent of the federal budget.

Meanwhile, less than 1 percent of the budget is dedicated to foreign aid – in theory, money sent to help the poorest of the poor.

The Feds do not transfer much money to the less fortunate in America, and they hardly transfer any to the truly unfortunate overseas.

They give to the aging. Medicare and Social Security alone account for 33 percent of the U.S. federal budget.

The elderly lived through some of the most prosperous periods in American history. Their scientific, economic and cultural advances created a better world, and they got to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

But that wasn’t enough.

When an interest group has votes, it has the power to steal resources from the less politically represented. The “baby boomers” used debts and deficits to take money from a particularly under-represented special interest group – the unborn.

The nation’s debt is not unbelievably large because of any particular political party or past president.

We have a soul-crushing debt because the dying have no reason not to feast on the unborn – metaphorically.

As economist John Maynard Keynes famously said, “In the long run, we are all dead.” Now, 86 years later, John Maynard Keynes is dead, and I’m stuck living in his long run.

We came into this world under a crushing burden, which is only growing heavier. Our generation will pay for the fiscal irresponsibility of our elders. If you don’t, men with guns will come to your house and take you to jail.

We should certainly call for change, but we shouldn’t have hope about the nation’s fiscal future.

Our elders sacrificed our generation’s livelihood before we could have a say in the matter. Remember that when it’s time to buy grandma a Christmas present.

This column was originally published Sept. 1 by Louisiana State University’s The Daily Reveille. Content was made available by Uwire.com.