Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Massive Debt

In what it’s describing as a magnanimous gesture toward an economy in decline, the Chinese government announced Monday it would forgive a portion of the staggering U.S. debt if Americans agreed to dress up in costumes and perform silly dances for their amusement.*

Kidding. But if we can’t laugh at the enormous amount of debt sucking America into a black hole of anticipatory depression, what else can we do? Perhaps we should dance for debt relief. Now that’s an event I’d pay to see. I’m willing to wager that Joe Biden and Barack Obama cut a mean tango.

In all seriousness, the amount of money this country spends on everything except the welfare of its citizens is profoundly disturbing. We spend trillions each year to maintain our military presence all over the globe and yet cannot seem to feed, let alone house or provide medical care for, everyone living in the United States. Whiny residents all over America complain about the fact that their taxes finance other people’s health insurance (if, that is, Obama gets his way with the universal plan) yet are suspiciously silent about the fact that we still have troops stationed in Germany, Russia and Vietnam.

In the town of Amherst I’ll often run into some pretty interesting people. One of them is a young bearded guy who sits outside of Amherst Books. It’s sad, really, that so often these folks are rarely ever listened to simply because they chill on the street. They typically are spot on in their perception of the world. This one, for example, will tell anyone willing to listen that America has mixed up its priorities and that he doesn’t want to be around for, quite literally, “the shit to hit the fan.” In my History of Prophecy seminar this past semester a visiting economist informed us that America was headed for a second Great Depression.

I heard a story on NPR this morning about a Catholic conservative woman hating on the inclusion of a no-copay birth control addition to Obama’s plan (which would mean a lot of great things for women and families everywhere) because she “doesn’t want to finance other people’s abortions.” Oh, okay. It’s perfectly fine to finance a nondescript military agenda that’s killed over 1,000,000 people this year but GOD HELP US if we should prevent pregnancy for a sixteen year old girl in a low income household whose parents couldn’t afford the copay for Kariva. Wake UP. Humans have sex. So what, we punish them for it? And that’s another thing- religion is now an informal (although at times, arguably formal) factor in public policy, so much so that its blurring the strategically invisible line between church and state. And if anyone has taken any history classes they should automatically recognize that as a catastrophic mistake.

Perhaps it’s time for America to pass the proverbial torch to another country. We’ve been on top in this global liplock for a long time, but perhaps we should look more closely at what it’s doing to the people who actually have to live here. We are, in the wise words of Bilbo Baggins, “like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Let’s let someone else have a go at the toaster.