If money were no issue, while these numbers on defense spending might seem amazing, we might also just shrug and say no big deal. But this all has to be paid somehow, and has to be paid by us eventually. The problem is, I believe, that government spending and borrowing are a mystery to most of us. I didn’t understand until recently how it was the government was able to spend more than it brought in. I basically thought that the federal government essentially pulled money out of thin air. However, that’s not the case. Most of us are probably vaguely aware that our government has a debt that is some staggering number. And yet having that debt doesn’t seem to be a problem. But it is.
Currently, the federal debt stands at $9.2 trillion. The interest expense paid on the National Debt is the third largest expense in the federal budget. (Information from http://www.federalbudget.com/) To give you an idea, if this was reduced by a dollar each second, it would still take nearly 300,000 years to pay off the national debt. A tightly-packed stack of crisp new $1000 bills, totaling $9 billion, would be 432 miles tall. (The Space Shuttle orbits at about 240 miles above the earth.) (Estimated from figures at http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa101500a.htm)
As mentioned, we have a huge national debt. So far, we’ve been able to pay for it and everything else the government spends money on, but we’ve done this by borrowing money. And all this money eventually has to be paid back with interest. And that’s the problem. Paying interest on our national debt is already the third largest expense our government has, and this will only continue to grow as we borrow more and those debts come due.
(To be continued)