Nine trillion small

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By The Staff

I enjoyed Terry Goldman’s rebuttal letter. Aside from learning how many cells are in the human body (I do love trivia), his discussion on considering the National Debt/GNP ratio is a sound approach. But to say that a $9 trillion debt is “not inordinately huge” was surprising. I hadn’t thought it would be necessary to address ND/GNP ratios to convince anyone that a $9 trillion debt is a ... umm ... bad thing.

As Goldman stated, the current ND/GNP ratio is 66 percent. It’s far greater if you include the unfunded Social Security and Federal pension liabilities. And don’t even dare consider Medicare’s liability!

Right after WWII, our ND/GNP ratio was a staggering 120 percent. However, our nation’s growth over the following 30 years was equally staggering, and by the end of Carter’s administration, the ND/GNP ratio has declined to 33 percent ... a low never to be seen again.

Enter the trickle-down era of Reagan and Bush Sr. Over the next 12 years, the ND/GNP ratio spiraled upwards again, hitting 64 percent at the end of Bush’s term.

And then came Clinton (er ... no pun intended). For the first time since anyone could remember, the government was talking about surpluses. Well, they ‘talked’ about them. There were in fact no surpluses. However, by the end of Clinton’s presidency, the ND/GNP ratio had declined to 57 percent. This wasn’t a drastic reduction, but at least it was in the right direction!

Under Bush W’s fiscally responsible management, we now enjoy our 66-percent ND/GNP ratio.

Mr. Goldman is right about one thing ... one does have to analyze figures in context. My comparisons were simply meant to try to put the number – 9 trillion – into some form that people could possibly fathom. Citing the ND as only $30K per person is itself misleading. The debt is not equally levied against all incomes and all people. But seriously, shouldn’t a $120K debt for every single four-person family, in any context, be mind-numbing?

If one needs context to appreciate how bad things are, consider the following ... it’s only going to get worse. I sincerely doubt that the next president will do any better than Bush. We can only hope that she doesn’t do worse!

John Pawlak

Los Alamos