It’s presidential election time again, and once again, I don’t feel like I have a good choice.
A banker friend in Maryland says deciding to not vote is a reasonable position to take. “I’ve decided that an informed decision to not vote is participatory and better than voting for someone who I do not agree with or, at least, agree with enough,” he says.
Like me, my friend in Maryland lives in a state where all the political pundits contend the presidential race was over long before it began. So, no matter how I vote, my state will support a Republican candidate. The sad irony is that more people in my home state benefit from government programs that any state in the country, except for Mississippi.
Few people, including what seems to be all our elected officials, understand the debilitating impact government entitlement has on the future of our country.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, entitlement spending as a percentage of federal outlays in 1960 was less than one third of the total federal budget.
Only 50 years later (2010) entitlement programs were pushing two thirds of the budget. And, even more worrisome, two years later (2011 and 2012), we exceeded two thirds of the budget and appear to be headed toward three fourths of the total budget. Whether we as a nation can survive such a Federal outlay of resources seems dubious to me.
In his Wall Street Journal article, Nicholas Everstadt, says, “In 2010 alone, government at all levels oversaw a transfer of over $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services. The burden of these entitlements came to slightly more than $7,200 for every person in America. Scaled against a notional family of four, the average entitlements burden for that year alone approached $29,000.”
Considering the mean, inflation adjusted family income in the U.S. dropped from $54,841 in 2000 to $52,546 in 2008 and slipped to $50,054 last year, finding that ‘extra’ $29,000 is going to be a bit daunting for most of us Middle Class wage earners.
The current financial reality for most Americans may not be a ringing endorsement for a continuation of the current presidential option, but consider some other, perhaps more dire political and economic realities.
The last time the U.S. had a balanced budget was the same year the Republican Party began an 8-year run in the White House. In that 8-year run, our country managed to ring up an extra trillion — that’s with a T — in debt.
So, one year, 1999, we have a balanced budget and eight years later we have a debt that is now roughly the size of the U.S. economy, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
We as Americans hear much about the $11-plus trillion — again with a T — debt that we owe other countries. Perhaps of greater concern, should be the $4.7 trillion the government has borrowed from itself. For those of you in my children’s generation who are hoping to bolster your retirement income with Social Security, good luck with that.
Lest you once again feel like sins of past Republican leadership warrant a Democratic vote next month, four years into a Democratic run in the White House, we just ended our fourth consecutive deficit of more than a trillion dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
Balancing a federal budget must not be impossible. If the only U.S. president that I know of called “Bubba” did it, surely either one of our current presidential candidates should be able to accomplish simple arithmetic. Bill Clinton’s claim that ‘it’s just arithmetic’ may be a bit too simplistic, but good arithmetic seems like a really good place to start.
Another really good place to start would be to keep in focus the two things that people absolutely must have to survive. Without a certain amount of calories each day and a certain amount of water, we can’t survive long.
Over the same 50 year period that saw our national debt balloon from a few billion to a few trillion dollars, the lines of food production and food demand have drawn closer and closer together.
Despite heroic efforts by the agriculture industry in developing new technology and even greater efforts by American farmers to implement this technology, we are losing ground in our battle to feed the world.
We hear about dire consequences of not being able to feed our planet when total population of Planet Earth reaches 9 billion people. In reality, we will lose our ability to produce enough calories to feed the inhabitants of our planet long before that dire prediction could come true. If either of the two presidential candidates truly wants to leave a legacy for our children and theirs, they should spend more time focusing on how to help farmers feed the world without over-using our water supply and quit dreaming up new ways to over-spend money we don’t have.