How do you stop any conversation at a cocktail party in America? Bring up the national debt. Boredom will overcome everyone listening as the complacency associated with a very simple topic that has been rendered falsely complicated sets in. Everyone will go glassy-eyed. People will nod in agreement while simultaneously not listening to anything you’re saying.
That’s the state of the national debt in the collective consciousness of Americans. Ask if it’s a problem and everyone will agree. Ask if it needs an immediate solution and most everyone will agree. Ask how they’ve voted to fix the problem or how they’ve demanded their leaders address the issue, and suddenly the drinks in their hands become much more interesting than they were moments before.
The problem with the debt isn’t that people don’t know about it. It’s that they just don’t care. Every American alive today who has paid even a little attention to the news in their lives has heard about the crippling effects of the national debt ever since the first real warning bells were sounded. Those bells rang out following the passage of the New Deal when expected GDP growth didn’t match expenditure growth. The result was the debt breaching the 40% mark of GBP. It was the end of the world for many economists who saw no way out.
At the time the national debt was 40% of GDP at $34 billion. Today, it’s 106% of GDP at nearly $23 trillion.
This is a problem that has no face, no tangible effects on the population, and no easy solutions. Entitlement reform is grossly unpopular, yet absolutely necessary to even start the process of fixing our debt issue. But entitlement reform would mean politicians would lose elections, most likely Republicans. Most of them have no intention of taking on something that’s desperately necessary yet immensely unpopular.
The Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl took to PragerU to discuss the omnipresent problem that nobody likes to think about. We need to start thinking about it immediately. Otherwise, the problem will “solve” itself.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
[gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”false”]