IWUZ watching a recent clip from Dave Letterman’s, Late Show. You know; the talk show that the President of the United States considers more important than the death of an ambassador, and embassies on fire. On the show, Letterman asked the President how big the US national debt was; and seeing it wasn’t on Dave’s teleprompter, and he didn’t have his along; the Telepromtee in Chief allowed that he couldn’t remember. To be fair, “We are sixteen trillion dollars in debt”; is hard to say – even for a President whose verbal skills rival those of Slick Willie.
But then, the President reassuringly opined that, however big the debt is, it’s not concerning, because; “We owe it to ourselves”. For me it was, as Yogi Berra put it; “déjà vu all over again”.
A couple of generations ago, during the late 60s to mid 80s, we Canadians had an unfortunate experience with a Prime Minister named Pierre Trudeau. He was the leader of the moderately socialist Liberal Party; an academic; an intellectual; a great orator; had never had to make payroll; and wanted to build a “Just Society”- as he called it; by redistributing wealth.
Redistributing wealth?! Now it’s déjà vu for you too, eh? (you too huh?- if you don’t speak Canadian).
Canadians bought this “Just Society” idea, hook, line, and sinker; and, just like with LBJ’s Great Society; entitlements proliferated, and costs soared. By the late 1980s Canada was deep in debt; but we were reassured by another high profile politician, the leader of the “socialism is the future party”, that; “The debt isn’t a problem because we owe it to ourselves”. And that’s why the Late Show tête à tête stopped me cold. I’d heard that line before, and it nearly destroyed us.
By 1994, Canada received a warning from the World Bank that we were in deep trouble. Then, the Wall Street Journal referred to Canada as; “An honorary member of the Third World”; and Canadians finally clued in to what Preston Manning had been preaching about. Remember him from the, “ARE WE THERE YET” blog? He’s the guy who said, over and over; “We’re digging ourselves into a debt hole. We gotta stop digging!”
When Canada finally woke up and changed its direction, its Deficit to Gross Domestic Product level was 6%. The US Deficit to Gross Domestic Product level is now around 10%. And, unlike sea levels which I’m sure have been going down for the last four years; the US federal debt inevitably keeps rising. If the interest rate on the debt doubles or triples, which is also almost inevitable —- Prefer not to think about it. But the uncomfortable truth is that the US federal debt has been climbing for over ten years. Hello there Republicans, and George W. Bush?
Currently, every American child has an inheritance of minus $50,000; starting the day they are born. Sixteen trillion dollars in debt and no end in sight. It is awfully hard to say.
So can the hole digging be stopped? Not easily, but Canada did it; so yes it can.