Sunday mornings, we have this usual routine of listening to a couple of pastors on TV while getting ready for church. One of the programs we enjoy is “Turning Point,” with Dr. David Jeremiah. A few Sundays ago he was preaching a series called “The Coming Economic Armageddon.” He was relating a Biblical perspective to the current economic situation in the United States and the world.
As I was listening, I realized that his sermon was taped sometime pretty soon after the economic downturn in 2009. You could sense Dr. Jeremiah’s uncertainty about our economic future. One of his main concerns was the spiraling upward growth on our government’s national debt. He stated that there was no way that we would ever be able to repay the $16 trillion in debt our government has accumulated.
When I heard that I thought, “You can tell this program is a few years old. The national debt is now $17. 5 trillion. Doesn’t look like we’ll pay that, either.” But you sure don’t hear much talk about trying to pay it down anymore.
Until the last few months, the national debt was one of the major topics in U.S. politics and the news media. Almost every day, there would be a news report, or some politician speaking out, about the dangers of the rapid growth of our national debt. Republican politicians would emphatically state that we must cut spending before it was too late and our economy was ruined. The Tea Party, new on the scene, was even more radical in their promotion in cuts in spending. Even Democrats, always a friend of bigger and more government, acknowledged the need to control government spending. And most of us agreed that Washington needed to do something about its spending before it was too late.
We know the national debt is huge, but how much is a trillion dollars? (Remember, we owe over 17 trillion dollars.) Let’s put it in terms that maybe we can relate. If your salary was $40,000 a year, it would take 25 years to earn a million dollars. With the same salary, it would take 25 thousand years to earn a billion dollars. With that same $40,000 a year salary, it would take 25 million years to earn a trillion dollars.
How much is a trillion dollars? Let’s try something a little more visual. A trillion dollars’ worth of $1 bills stacked on top of one another would reach about 67,000 miles. Therefore, $17 trillion of stacked $1 bills would be more than 1 million miles high — enough to stretch from the Earth to the moon four times and still have money left over.
Then, how much is the $17.5 trillion dollars that the U.S. government owes its creditors? The folks in Washington know. And most of us know. Simply, the $17.5 trillion national debt is more than we’ll ever be able, or willing, to repay. Why aren’t we willing and able? It’s simple. In order to get out of a hole you’ve dug for yourself, the first thing you have to do is to stop digging. We all have shovels and we can’t stop digging.
Getting out of debt is simple. You need more income and less spending. I didn’t say it was easy. More income means more taxes. Less spending means fewer and smaller government programs. And that means less goods, services, and money coming our way from Washington. No one wants to pay more taxes, and less than half of us do. And we’ve become quite comfortable with those goods, services and money coming from the federal government. They might cut some other program, but don’t touch my Social Security, farm subsidy, Medicaid, etc. If you even talk about the possibility of doing it, I won’t vote for you.
After losing a couple of elections, the politicians don’t talk about it anymore, except for a little lip service every now and then. The media doesn’t talk about it because the national debt is an old story, so last year. And we don’t talk about it because we now realize that the cuts needed won’t just affect the other guy, it will affect us. In the meantime, I’m starting to wonder what the coming economic Armageddon is going to be like. I probably need to call and order Dr. Jeremiah’s book.