Ring out the new, ring in the old. No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn't it? Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion – a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months' time.Read the whole thing (and I mean that - it's good).
At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke – broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur – and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece's. That's true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.
Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the past three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, "$16.4 trillion" has no real meaning, any more than "$17.9 trillion" or "$28.3 trillion" or "$147.8 bazillion." It doesn't even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough: Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as they're borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That's to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion and, eventually, 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.
Why is it that consumers can have a cow over a $2 Verizon charge or a $5 Bank of America charge, but don't seem to care at all that our country is being bankrupted by liberal policies and politicians? Our priorities are way out of whack.