The only political problem that matters

By Andrew Krigline, Page Designer

I’m not a political science person nor am I an economist. I’m just today’s twenty-something facing a life of paying taxes ahead of him.

I am not overly concerned with politics. I acknowledge that this isn’t the best attitude to have, but I really don’t want to spend time right now wading through the mud and scum that is “political debate.” It’s just too much to take in and try to sort out.

All that being said, I have one opinion that falls within the political realm that I hold firmly.

The national government must have, and retain, a balanced budget.

If you ask any household member if you can spend more money than you make, they will answer simply, “No.”

If you ask any businessman if it is possible to run a business by spending more money than is taken in (effectively having negative profits), the answer will be a simple, “No.”

If you ask any large corporation if they will approve a budget plan that includes spending more money than they project to profit, they’ll answer simply, “Of course not.”

It’s basic economics: spending more money than you make is not a good idea.

It’s how you rack up credit card debt and get tied into an endless cycle of paying off bills that grow through interest.

In the majority of places, every level of government from the city to the state is required by law to balance their budget.

As of now, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures, the only state without this line in its constitution is Vermont. Funding only goes as far as revenue will allow.

If there’s no revenue, there can be no funding for the program.

Programs have to propose how they will fund themselves, either through a tax increase or by absorbing funding from another program. This is not true for the federal government.

If the federal government wants to spend money it doesn’t have, it does.

The federal government is not required by any law of the land to have a balanced budget.

Thus, if they want to spend money, they both can and do.

If they need more money than taxes and other income provide, they simply borrow it.

This system is shockingly similar to a naive teenager getting his or her first credit card. Everything is possible now! Buy it now, and pay for it later! Brilliant!

Then the first credit card bill comes in the mail. Very quickly, the teenager’s parents have a meeting with him or her about money management. He or she either learns their lesson and stops spending more money than they are capable of paying off or else they soon become bogged down in debt that will last for years.

At the time of this editorial being written, the U.S. Department of the Treasury  reported that the United States is $16.9 trillion in debt.

Let me demonstrate.

There are currently approximately 7.17 billion people on the Earth.

So if you gave every individual 2,357 pennies, the world’s population would have 16.9 trillion pennies.

We’re talking about $16,900,000,000,000 here, people. That is a ton of money.

And guess what, that’s money the federal government has spent and that it has borrowed from external parties.

That is the money that I get to pay back for the rest of my life. That my children get to pay back for the rest of their lives, and in all likelihood, their children too.

But wait! There’s more.

The government is $768 billion in debt. That means that the net profit the government is making each year is negative $768 billion. That $768 billion just gets tacked on to the debt that I get to pay for.

In my mind, sinking a country further and further into a black hole is a rather large problem and one that should be dealt with quickly.

I frankly don’t believe any issue in the government is more important right now than what we as a nation are practicing as horrible money management.

The only issue I want discussed in Congress is this one: Why such urgency?

Because I have to pay for it. That’s the bottom line people — you have to pay for it too.

The only way to solve this problem?

We can banter all day about whether we need to cut spending or raise revenue, I really don’t care.

What I do think everyone should agree on is that the Constitution of the United States should be amended immediately to include balancing the nationla budget.

If you ask that same businessman we talked to earlier how to solve the problem of spending more than you bring in, he’d probably say something like, “Stop spending so much…”

What that translates to is laid off workers, cut programs, downsizing, etc.

The same applies to the government. Since not many people will want to pay more, the government simply needs to spend less.

They also need to raise taxes a bit and cut spending a bit. No one is going to be happy about this, but at least the budget will be balanced.

There is no excuse for not having a balanced budget. Anyone who says otherwise has no sense of decent money management. Guess who gets to pay for it when the federal government spends more than it makes?

We do, my fellow college students — you and me. Something to think about next time you get the chance to re-elect our fine congressmen and women.