The Other Inconvenient Truth
Thinking a lot about the future as I do, I keep coming back to the fact that there are five or six fundamental and critical issues that face America in this still new century. The degree to which we begin to face these key issues and to start to do so right now will determine whether our greatness as a nation will continue and build upon our magnificent history.
Will America continue to be the great nation we still think it is? As a nation will we be able to adjust to the rapidly changing realities of the world? As we move from the Information Age to the Shift Age will we have the resolve to make some really difficult choices and rise up as we have in the past to meet our national promise and legacy?
In just the last 18 months the awareness and acceptance of global warming has gone from a minority to a majority of us. This issue is one that we now see is something that while not greatly disrupting our lives today, might have catastrophic effects for our children and certainly for our grandchildren. The question for America is how and how quickly we can move from a society and economy based upon formerly cheap fossil fuels to one that is based upon renewable energy sources that are sustainable and non-polluting. We now see we are at risk and we are starting to take action.
The issue we must now also face is the alarming issue of our national debt. It is nothing less than a financial cancer growing inside our country that will, in the foreseeable future force us to react to it or risk the tearing of the fabric of our nation. We may not immediately feel itsâ€™ negative effect, but our children will. It is the other inconvenient truth we face.
In the past few years I have become alarmed both by the mounting national debt and the absolute non-acknowledgement of it by those that seek office. It is the great â€˜wink, wink, nod, nod, say no moreâ€™ problem that politicians know about and completely avoid addressing, except for a few brave individuals. Many politicians perhaps are even unaware of the problem.
About six months ago I had the good fortune to meet a wonderful woman named Sheila Weinberg. In the early part of this decade she decided to make the federal budget her summer reading. What she found out was that it had no correlation to the basic rules of accounting that we as citizens and companies must live by. She closed down her accounting practice, founded the Institute for Truth in Accounting and dedicated her life to bringing awareness to this issue. We met because she was looking for a way to amplify this issue in time for it to become a central issue of the 2008 election year.
Sheila further educated me on how bad the national debt situation really is. Having seen the national debt clock, with its rapidly increasing dollar amounts, I thought that our national debt was somewhere around 9 trillion dollars. The real number is closer to 59 trillion. The difference is all the promises made regarding social security, medical care, veterans benefits and other entitlements that, guess what, the government does not look at as obligations. Donâ€™t you believe they are obligations? Arenâ€™t you expecting the government to honor them?
Let me make the national debt personal to you. Every man woman and child is now responsible for more that $190,000 of debt.
There has never been a budget surplus in our lifetimes, regardless of claims made. To use a household analogy, the government accounts for the budget as we look at a checking account. Money comes into the account, we pay our bills, and if, at the end of the month there is money left over, there is a surplus (and we know how rare surpluses are in government). What this check book version of cash accounting does not take into account is our mortgages, credit card debt and other loan obligations, all of which are very real. When speaking of the budget, the government does not account for future payments of obligations.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting, with some generous individual contributions, has just launched a web site, www.truthin2008.org . The goal of this site is to mobilize citizens, journalists and anyone concerned about this issue to make the national debt a central issue of the elections in 2008. The hope here is that this web site can become the catalyst to make the nation, and those that want to lead it, face this issue now.
If you want a bright future for America, if you want a bright future for your children and grandchildren, please visit www.truthin2008.org to begin to learn the truth. It is scary, and we need to face it now.