NEW CASTLE —
Congratulations! You’re now $50,000 in the hole.
We’re not talking about your mortgage, student loan or some other obligation. This is strictly your share of the national debt, which passed $16 trillion last week.
It’s difficult for the average individual to fathom $16 trillion. It’s a number so huge and so esoteric that it’s rendered meaningless.
But $50,000 per person? That hits home. And the idea of carrying around this extra financial burden will cause the average individual to wince.
Of course, your share of the national debt differs from other obligations. If you aren’t paying off your regular debts in timely fashion, you soon wind up in trouble.
While the nation’s debt is constantly paid off, it’s being done by borrowing ever larger amounts of money. In simple terms, the national debt — and your share of it — continues to grow because Uncle Sam is spending more than he’s taking in with taxes.
And an increasing part of that spending is the interest that must be paid to cover Washington’s debt. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, interest paid on the debt in 2011 was more than $454 billion. In 2001, it was $358 billion.
Yet the larger question in all of this must be: How significant is $16 trillion in debt for the United States of America? An individual can have debt, such as with a mortgage, and manage it without problems. The issue is the amount of debt relative to one’s ability to pay it off.
In this regard, America will never pay off its debt. Based on history, it’s a figure that’s likely to grow. That’s not necessarily bad — if the spending remains a manageable portion of the nation’s overall wealth and the money spent helps to build the country’s future.
It’s when debt becomes unmanageable — for individuals as well as governments — that it creates a critical concern. Internationally, countries such as Greece and Spain are dealing with the consequences of excessive debt. And worries about their ability to cover their obligations are roiling economies around the planet. The uncertainties about the debt of these relatively small countries is a major impediment to economic recovery in the United States and elsewhere.
America’s debt crisis is not at that state — yet. But the inability of Washington to deal effectively with matters of spending, debt reduction and borrowing led to a lowering of this country’s bond rating this year from AAA to AA-plus. The move was meant as a psychological blow to encourage Washington to get its fiscal and political houses in order. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.
Excessive government borrowing ultimately leads to high interest rates and borrowing costs in the private sector. And the uncertainty over what Washington will do with its fiscal situation produces economic hesitation across the board.
Debt always has consequences. America needs to work to reduce its obligations.
NEW CASTLE —
Congratulations! You’re now $50,000 in the hole.
Our Opinion: Lousy voter turnout is a missed opportunity
Tuesday’s primary in Lawrence County had its share of winners and losers. But — based on the numbers — the biggest winner has to be voter apathy. Countywide, voter turnout in the primary was a whopping 17.1 percent. In case you missed it, our use of the term “whopping” is sarcasm.
Our Opinion: Pennsylvania’s primary system is controlled by parties
Should Pennsylvania’s primaries be open to independent voters? That’s an interesting question and one we have explored in the past on this page.
Our Opinion: State audit says city school district failed to collect from non-residents
Audit information about non-resident students who didn’t pay tuition at New Castle raises more questions than it answers. At least so far. We expect more details when the Pennsylvania auditor general’s office completes its report and the New Castle school district provides its response.
Our Opinion: Make the most of your power to vote by casting ballot tomorrow
So what kind of turnout will there be for tomorrow’s primary? Recent history suggests somewhere between low and lousy. This year’s elections are devoted to local races, and there are few major ones being contested in the primary.
Our Opinion: Privatization of county jail is worthy of examination
Generally speaking, we support government efforts to seek more efficient ways to provide essential services. So we have no problem with the decision by the Lawrence County commissioners to solicit proposals for the private operation of the county jail.
Our Opinion: We endorse candidates for New Castle board
The New Castle school district is often a study in contrasts. There are complaints about the district on everything from taxes to nepotism, from test scores to ethical slights. Yet at the same time, plenty of students within the district excel. It’s a tribute to the hard work of those students, their families and the educators who support them.
Our Opinion: You should be frightened, outraged by IRS abuse of power
When people talk about government posing a threat to citizens, a common topic these days is unmanned drones. But a more credible threat may be the Internal Revenue Service. This agency, responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing related rules, has the ability to make life miserable for the average individual.
Our Opinion: Our endorsements for City Council race
The city of New Castle needs help. Financially distressed and operating under Pennsylvania’s Act 47, New Castle must find ways to reverse its population loss and fiscal challenges.
Our Opinion: Court frowns on gerrymandering, but only slightly
Pennsylvania legislators have received the green light to put their own political interests ahead of yours. That’s a key point in the latest Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on legislative apportionment in the commonwealth.
Our Opinion: Study says distracted driving deaths are under reported
Suppose you operated a piece of heavy machinery at your job. And suppose it’s machinery that moves quickly with little effort. What would happen if you decided to take one hand off that equipment — while it was still in motion — and instead focused your attention on a telephone call?
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