Smoke and Mirror Debt Proposals: Turning Dreams Into Nightmares

The financial rape of our young citizens’ futures will continue if the present political campaigns are any indication. Career politicians’ re-elections have become dependent on “borrowing” money from our young citizens to garner votes from their elders. This borrowing has created a debt crisis that is now a topic for the 2012 elections. The deficit and debt solutions proposed by both political parties are half-truth “tweaks” to the status quo aimed at their re-elections and gaining party power. Their proposals will not solve our problems.

Career politicians are continuing to hide the whole truth about the nation’s financial crisis using diversionary, scare, number manipulation and other tricks to confuse and seduce voters, including young voters, into believing a few simple fixes will solve our problems. President Obama is already on the campaign trail playing the blame game, scaring the old and young alike, and making misleading claims. So what is the whole truth?

Any debt reduction plan must first reduce the deficit to zero before any savings can be applied toward the debt. Neither the President’s plan nor the republicans’ plan brings the deficit to zero. The estimated deficit for 2011 is about $1.6 trillion, and our government estimates deficits of over $1.0 trillion per year for the next ten years. In President Obama’s recent debt reduction speech he proposed a deficit reduction plan that would lower the deficit by an average of $0.33 trillion per year, only a twenty percent reduction in the annual deficits. Thus, the political debate is over which inadequate plan will increase political party power after the 2012 election. The truth is we voters are being conned again! We are to believe a reduction in the rate of failure is success — it is still failure.

The “nation’s debt” estimated at over $15 trillion for 2011 and increasing annually is money borrowed from domestic and foreign investors to cover the accumulation of deficits. A second “national debt” that is seldom mentioned by our leaders has been conveniently call “unfunded liabilities (or obligations).” This debt is the result of promises the government has made to citizens but has not saved or invested funds to pay them. These promises are for government employee retirements, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and other programs. The total funds are hard to estimate because they are to be paid out in the future, and depend upon assumptions about the future value of money. Estimates range from a minimum of $40 trillion to $112 trillion! Our U.S. Treasure provides these funds, so unfunded liabilities are a part of our debt burden too.

The total governmental debt and liabilities, equally distributed over all 310 million of us, is between $180,000 and $410,000 each. Older citizens, grandparents of the young, will not be able to pay their share, and parents of the young will likely not be able to pay all of their share either. The result is our younger people are starting life and careers with hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal government dept in addition to any state and local debts, education, or other personal debts they might accrue.

Had we older citizens known the whole truth would we have knowingly placed such a debt burden on our young? I think not. We have underestimated the abilities of our career political leaders to scare, mislead and seduce us into believing their self-serving stories. Career politicians’ top priority is being reelected. Their next priorities are obtaining re-election money and understanding constituents’ needs and wants. These priorities provide the information they need to “tell us what we want to hear” so that they can offer “free” and “pork” monies, blame others for our problems, drive wedges between groups of us, and use other tricks and promises to gain our support. Career politicians’ know optimism trumps pessimism independent of the truth, and the optimistic “tell them what they want to hear” trick is a path to re-election. Unfortunately, satisfying their oath of office and protecting the future of our nation are very low on career politicians’ priority list.

We must act now to reign in and control our politicians before they destroy our nation. Otherwise future generations loaded down with debts will not be able to achieve their American dreams, and our nation will be forever changed. We need real change based on the whole, perhaps disappointing truth about our deficit, debt, and unfunded liabilities, and not politician offered half-truths. We need leaders that propose realistic solutions — changes for “we the people” and the long-term future of our nation — not changes for “we the politicians’” re-elections and power.

Obviously, knowledge is our weapon and ballots are our bullets to achieve true change, but there is more we individually can do:
• Take a few minutes to look at Internet sites that are great sources of both political and factual information. Ignore sites that quote politicians. Start by searching Google for “unfunded liabilities federal government” since it is the least discussed and biggest of all our debts. Once you are aware of the facts, share them with family and friends.
• Spread the information to a wider audience by putting the information on your social media accounts, Twitter, FaceBook, blogs, etc. Every person, and particularly the young, should be aware of the true present state of our nation.
• Join “grassroots” efforts to encourage individuals within your State to “push back” on state and federal debt, and other issues. The Constitution clearly gives states the right to challenge federal authorities on some issues. For example, states are now “pushing-back” on immigration, health care, and other issues with some success.
• Participate in elections as an information source for others or through other means, and vote for candidates that are serious about changes that are truly in the short- and long-term best interest of “we the people.”

We can and must change the Washington culture by forcing process changes that reduce the many perks and favorable rules career politicians have given themselves and their political parties, and leadership changes including how leaders communicate with us. These changes should attract patriot leaders who would focus on the best long-term interests of our nation, and replace many of the self-serving leaders we have today. Our debt crisis is a good place to initiate true changes while protecting future generations from debts that will cripple or kill their American dreams.

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Dr. Cleland’s Ph.D. is from Purdue University where he specialized in complex systems theory. His technical training and experiences includes analyses of many types of systems, involvement with numerous federal, state, and local agencies, and management of a broad set of set of professionals, services, and trades people. He has managed scientists, engineers, policemen, firefighters, environment, health, safety and emergency planning experts, building trades and maintenance crafts personnel, and others.

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