The battle against pervasive child abuse could not possibly
deserve a higher national priority. But as our staggering
national debt of $4.1 trillion mounts each year, an abusive
economic dimension is added as well for our unborn offspring.
What an annoying form of fiscal child abuse, indeed. And it
will exert a debilitating impact upon every aspect of their lives
for countless generations to come.
Just a glance at the accompanying graph (courtesy of Economist
Bryan Higgins of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) will
convey how poorly the problem has been addressed throughout an
unbroken string of years for nearly a century _ both in actual
dollars and as a percent of our Gross Domestic Product.
This month's column will, therefore, focus upon three aspects
of our embarrassing and malignant fiscal failure:
The ultimate remedy.
Our projected $5 trillion debt for fiscal 1995 already amounts to
nearly 20 percent of the USA's total domestic public resources,
estimated at about $25 trillion.
While a going business might well sustain such a burden if its
net revenues are sufficient to more than cover the annual
interest expense _ not so for the USA, which racks up an annual
deficit each fiscal year of almost a trillion dollars, amounting
to a negative coverage of interest expense.
Interest expense alone (see accompanying graph) amounts to
roughly $200 billion or about 14 percent of our total current
budget, and compounding alone will double it before the year
Clearly, so-called "entitlements" constitute the largest element
of the budget each year at nearly $350 billion, or about 25
percent of the total (not including social security).
With the "defense" increment not far behind at just under $300
billion, or 21 percent.
Our failure to begin to reduce _ or even balance _ our burgeoning
deficits for so many years may well lie at the base of our
We're talking here about a handful of character flaws which now
seem pretty well imbedded: security without work; leisure without
discipline; pleasure without moderation; waste without
responsibility; experiment without accountability; risk without
common sense; and politics without conscience.
How it all began, with each year feeding on the last, is no doubt
a matter of a gradual and subtle dulling of our collective
national conscience _ which leads to our third and final