That is a graphic of the American economy. We are not going off the cliff. We are off the cliff regardless of what is said.
Our national debt is variously reported to be approximately $16 trillion. Wrong! Not included is what the government owes the Social Security Fund. That is another $18 trillion bringing our national debt of nearly $33 trillion.
Based only on the $16 trillion debt every citizen owes $52.052. While solutions are sought the debt goes up $3.87 billion per day.
The soon to be imposed 3.8 percent tax increase on capital gains alone won’t fix the problem. It will hurt investors and hence an economic recovery.
New tax proposals for 2013 are designed to raise $317 billion over the next 10 years. Over 13,000 pages of new regulations have been prepared for this new Obama tax plan. There are more to come. These greatly expand government control and increase costs.
One noted economist has said that unless spending is controlled every citizen could be taxed at the rate of 100 percent and that would not solve the debt crisis. Spending must be controlled.
Borrowing more from China and other foreign countries isn’t the solution. Foreign governments are not as interested as they once were. They do not see America as a good borrower.
The question is posed as to how we got in this mess. There is a one word answer: Greed.
Greed is compounded by a fog of topor that seems to hang over our nation. This has resulted in a broad base commitment to working the system to get something for nothing. It is a form of greed that has gone viral identified as cupidity, an eager or excessive desire to possess. Avarice, meaning insatiable greed is yet another word for our societal appetite.
Entitlements have to be disciplined. There is no way to sustain them. Congress is going to be slow to make essential cuts because recipients of unmerited entitlements tend to be diligent voters. To take away an entitlement is to lose a vote.
A simple solution is not to tax the rich. There is no way that will solve the problem. If the president’s proposed full tax on the rich were applied to the 2012 budget it would decrease from $1.10 trillion to $1.2 trillion.
Every American is going to have to be involved in accomplishing a recovery. Special interests can’t be shielded, every citizen must be involved. Tough choices have to be made that will impact everyone.
As this financial scenario plays out greed plays the part of the Road Runner and we individually and culturally the pursuing Wile E. Coyote. The result is always the same. You know, the cliff and ZIP. Those who pursue greed never win. There are no cliff hangers. There is always a bottom to the canyon.
If we cannot govern ourselves individually there is no government that can govern us.
May the need for government restraints encourage us to better control not only our personal finances, but every area of our lives. Self-discipline is the most challenging form of discipline and the most essential.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.