The national debates are helping to bring economic issues to the forefront, which is awesome. However, many still have difficulty relating to the magnitude of debt that government has amassed, and cannot comprehend what it will take to dig ourselves out of it. This is certainly understandable because the amount due is unfathomable to most. Therefore, some choose to ignore it.
Unfortunately, we cannot. Debt is a subject that we as a nation need a better education on and must get a handle on to avoid a devastating legacy for our children. In an Oct. 7 Maui News editorial aptly titled "A trillion here, a trillion there," the publisher notes that this is the fourth year in a row that we have deficit of more than $1 trillion, with our federal government borrowing more than 31 cents for every dollar spent, according to The Associated Press.
Really? Let us take a moment to compare this to how we spent money at home and in our businesses over the last four years. Did you continue to spend roughly the same each year over the last four years to escalate a high debt level like the federal government? Or, did you make cuts here and there (some deeply painful, others not so much) to reduce your spending and be more financially secure? Did you get to borrow 31.5 cents for every dollar you spent?
If you paid rent or a mortgage payment of $1,500 each month, did you get to borrow $472.50 each month, or a total of $5,670 last year? No? Our government did. And, those who made those choices will not be paying the bill. They are passing it on to you and me, the taxpaying public, and our children, and our children's children. If we take action now, we might be able to stop it there.
U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Linda Lingle helps people better understand the enormity of the national deficit by relating it to seconds. It is an eye-opening experience. Drawing from her example, we share the following to help people relate to the difference between a million, a billion, a trillion, the debt today, and the projected debt in 2016 if we continue along the same path. For quick reference, there are 86,400 seconds in a day:
* 1 million: $1,000,000 divided by seconds in a day equates to 11 days.
* 1 billion: $1,000,000,000 divided by seconds in a day equates to 11,574 days.
* 1 trillion: $1,000,000,000,000 divided by seconds in a day equates to 11,574,074 days.
* 16 trillion: $16,000,000,000,000 divided by seconds in a day equates to 185,185,185.2 days.
* 20 trillion: $20,000,000,000,000 divided by seconds in a day equates to 231,481,481.5 days.
(The national debt today is more than $16 trillion and widely reported on many national debt calculators.)
When will government get a handle on spending? When we, the people, require it. It is seriously time to ask yourself, "If not now, when?" and vote for change. The way we are operating is simply not sustainable.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock - time is ticking down on the Election Day clock. Will you vote for those who are OK with systems of the past? Or elect a knowledgeable and inspired cast? Some say broken systems do not require change, while others have plans for a future we can sustain.
When you vote, know one thing for sure: It is high time we improve our economic health and deliver a cure. For our debt is mounting, with another $1.1 trillion deficit this year - a tragic legacy we leave our children without even shedding a tear.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.