Dear U.S. government:
(Please pass this message to the person in charge today. If no one is in charge, send it to Mexico. They can deduct it from the cost of the wall.)
The Congressional Budget Office did more harm to cardiac patients than a personal letter from the IRS. The CBO has been doing some figuring and discovered the government debt would increase for each person to $82,000 in the next decade.
With Republicans running Washington, I assumed that they would be cutting the deficit. However, they discovered it wasn't necessary to balance the budget - take a tax cut and just borrow the money. The Democrats have always known about this gimmick, but now both parties are playing the game. Two snouts in the trough - very costly.
Not only do we have a tsunami budget debt coming but we have to pay the interest on the $21 trillion already on the books. As the debt rises, interest charges will prevent payment on the principal. It's like the mortgage on your first house.
Somehow we have turned Keynesian economics on its head. According to the most outstanding economist of the 20 century, John Maynard Keynes, we are supposed to reduce the debt in good times and increase the debt in bad times. Now we are going into debt at good times, meaning that if we ever had an economic crash like 2006 we would go so far underwater that we would be negotiating lunch with sharks.
It took five years for President Barack Obama (after his birth certificate was found) to get us back on track. I even included my piggy bank emergency reserve in my assets when I started worrying about surviving the crash. Our house just had a pre-crash emergency two months earlier so the piggy bank didn't have any reserves for 2006.
Now, U.S. government, here is the bad news: I do not have $80,000 and I doubt I will be able to accumulate it by the time you need it, especially if you cut Social Security. I'm already down to black beans, bread and sassafras tea.
So what are we to do until we get back on the Keynesian track?
We could issue warrants for future payment like they did during the great depression when North Dakota couldn't pay school teachers. A teacher could eat only so many chickens. But they couldn't eat warrants, either, so it came out about even.
We could restore the recent tax cuts and admit we had our hands in the cookie jar when there were no cookies. So put that yacht in storage, ye rich, and give the money back.
We could adopt a more welcoming immigration policy so immigrants could come into the country and share the debt, thereby reducing everyone's burden. History tells us that the more immigrants that came, the more prosperous America became.
We could raffle off the Statue of Liberty if she isn't going welcome the poor, hungry and weary. Maybe we could sweeten the deal by making a national park of your choice the second prize.
The government could go into farming and get the farm subsidies and safety nets provided farmers by the government. Put a big mailbox in front of the Department of the Treasury. That would brighten the revenue picture on the one hand but contribute to the deficit on the other.
If you haven't heard, the Daughters of the American Revolution have opened a booth to sell apple pie by the Washington monument. They are doing their part so buy a pie. Buy two and throw one at somebody in Washington.
Yours with regrets,
A faithful taxpayer
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND. His column is published Mondays in the Herald.