This is a short essay I wrote while a freshman at college in 1996. Things have gotten worse since then.
Our national debt began like a necessary, comfortable fire but has grown into a blazing inferno that is devouring our resources. Some have said that debt is the price of freedom or a “necessary evil” because that money was needed to kindle the financing of our fledgling nation and our war for independence.
According to Robert Burn’s article, “Born in Hock” in The Kansas City Star on March 1, 1993, our debt began with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and by 1789 was at $77 million. That was 38 times larger than our governments yearly revenue! Because of government concern about the debt, they were able to reduce the debt to a mere $38,000 by 1893, even after the costly Civil War.
Since 1893 our nation has increasingly lost consciousness about our financial status. Our debt has increased with each war and even reached the $1 trillion mark in 1981. Looking back we can see that our nation went through two World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, but the shocking fact is that since 1981 our debt has more than quadrupled and now stands at the enormous amount of $5.2 trillion. The Linn County News of August 28, 1996 quotes our debt at $5,213,488,943,748.22, a nearly incomprehensible number. On a scale where five inches equals $1 billion, $5.2 trillion is more than 2,085 feet away. That is longer than six football fields end to end or $19,629.55 for every man, woman and child in America (based on a population of 263.5 million people)! Continue reading