April 15, 2021

It’s tax season so many of our thoughts are about money and how wisely our government leaders spend OUR money. Add to that the fact that the Biden crowd in Washington is trotting out spending plans with liberal dreams of spending more and more trillions of dollars and it becomes clear this is a timely conversation.

I remember walking in Manhattan in 1996 by the National Debt clock, somewhere around Sixth Avenue and maybe 44th or 45th.  I had written about the National Debt for years as a creeping terror caused by spendthrift politicians.  But to see the real time numbers clicking through so fast on that big clock that you could hardly follow them was a visual revelation.

The clock at that time showed the National Debt at somewhere around $5 TRILLION dollars.  It seemed so outrageous at the time. A trillion dollars was an amount I figured we would never be able to pay off. But if you thought that amount was high, try to fathom the newest level of U.S. National Debt:

$28 trillion.

I remember one of the things economic statisticians would say was how much of that debt was owed by a family or by an individual. Right now – the amount of debt owed by each American taxpayer is….well, I’ll let you look that up later for yourself.  It’s simply too depressing to put into print.  But a little tip – when you read it, it will be shockingly unreal.  And folks with good sense will come to the realization many have come to over the years….

That when it comes to spending our hard-earned tax money, our leaders in Washington – the Congressmen and Senators we elect to do represent us and expect to act wisely – act like they’re dealing with “play money” from some board game.

Here’s some “fun” facts.

The World Factbook of the CIA states that, as of 2017, the U.S. had the largest external debt in the world.

Over 30% of our National Debt is owned by China and Japan.  In fact, if you want to learn more, and see visuals that demonstrate how deep in debt we really are, the WorkandMoney.com website is the best we’ve seen.

If you want to watch the numbers fly by as your debt increases, go to this website and see how much debt you owe personally on the National Debt today.  It’s called USDebtClock.org – and is a real time calculator of the National Debt.

If you can bring yourself to get real with the numbers it shows, it might make you want to tell your Congressman and U.S. Senators to back the heck off all the government spending they love to do with your tax money to curry favor with voters.

By the way, that $5 trillion dollars I saw on the National Debt clock that fine day back in 1996 – that’s about the same amount of money spent on the “COVID stimulus” packages by Congress just in the last year.

Now to be straight with you, the national debt includes a lot of things. Wikipedia describes it as the “total national debt owed by the federal government of the United States to Treasury security holders”. And that it is split into two components:

  • “Debt held by the public” – such as Treasury securities held by investors outside the federal government, including those held by individuals, corporations, the Federal Reserve, and foreign, state and local governments.
  • “Debt held by government accounts” or “intragovernmental debt” – is non-marketable Treasury securities held in accounts of programs administered by the federal government, such as the Social Security Trust Fund. Debt held by government accounts represents the cumulative surpluses, including interest earnings, of various government programs that have been invested in Treasury securities.”

A big part of understanding the debt involves common sense: when government spends more than it takes in, the debt goes up.  When it takes in more than it spends, the debt goes down.

When it comes to government accountability here in North Carolina, fortunately, and thankfully, we have a constitutional requirement that our legislature is in charge of the budget and that it must balanced.  Legislators are not allowed to build up debt.

We are also blessed with Reform Majority leaders who are mostly tight-fisted and frugal with taxpayers’ hard-earned money.  When there’s been a budget surplus, our leaders have put money away in Rainy Day savings accounts to be prepared for natural disaster and other shocks to the system like the COVID pandemic.  They’re not trigger-happy at putting the people’s money at risk by passing bonds for every dreamed up idea – choosing instead a “pay-as-you-go” path that limits indebtedness.

In a nutshell, our state’s current leaders are responsible with the people’s money.  And at a time when our national leaders appear to think money grows on trees and are putting small businesses and middle class taxpayers in jeopardy with more and more massive mountains of debt, here today, at tax time, we are thankful.  But it’s time to get in the face of our Congressmen and Senators – regardless of party – and say no more to huge debt!