Monday, February 16, 2009

Musing about Money

There is one report that tells us that our US Budget deficit is $455 billion (that would be the Congressional Budget Office) but this report, by the US Treasury reports the real 2008 federal budget deficit was $5.1 trillion. Supposedly the difference is because "official budget deficit is calculated on a cash basis, where all tax receipts, including Social Security tax receipts, are used to pay government liabilities as they occur." (found here.) In other words, we are already spending $5.1 TRILLION dollars a year, but if everything goes as planned and we collect all taxes and so forth, we will only be short $455 BILLION dollars.

According to some pundits, this brings our national debt to $65 TRILLION dollars, give or take a few billion. Now the CIA factbook says that the entire world's external debt is $52.15 trillion and that this figure is the sum total of all countries' external debt, both public and private (31 December 2008 est.) Which number to believe?

More investigations leads me to the website "Debt to the Penny" which reports the debt for 2/12/2009 to be:
  • Debt held by the Public == 6,453,765,915,043.27
  • Intragovernmental Holdings == 4,305,430,672,520.17
  • And Total Public Debt Outstanding == 10,759,196,587,563.44
This is a $10.7 TRILLION debt. More facts: According to the CIA factbook, the GDP for the entire world (Gross Domestic Product) is $54.62 trillion (2007 est.) Look at those numbers carefully. If you consider seriously's number seriously, you come only to one conclusion: the US National Debt is LARGER than the 2007 GDP for the entire world. Even if you use the 2008 numbers for the World's GDP of $70.65 trillion (2008 est), the numbers do not look so very good. And if you use the official government numbers of a debt of "only" 10.7 trillion dollars, that represents a huge chunk of the worlds GDP. As it is, according to Wikipedia, this debt represents approximately 37% of our own GDP.

Who do we owe? I would like to know! Well, you can find out -- a lot of it is trust funds. A lot of it is the government borrowing from the government. There are public holdings -- where people purchase bonds, bills and securities. I have a LOT invested (about 2/3) in government holdings, myself. What has tipped is that the majority of the debt is not being carried through public holdings, but as of Jan 2009 the majority is being held by intragovernmental holdings.

We are spending this money rapidly. I looked at a one-minute segment of time to see how fast we are spending and it came to $5.8 million dollars a minute. (look here). Yes, about $100,000 per second. That should give you a warm fuzzy feeling. A full half of that money goes to two things: the military and to pay the interest on the debt. And where does this general fund come from? Our income taxes.

I want to know this: how is spending MORE money going to get us out of this? I get the feeling that this cannot end well. I know that we got out of just as big a hole after WWII, but that does not reassure me.

I go back to Wesley: Owe nothing. Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can. What can I do? I am going to pay off my own personal debt, use my purchasing power wisely and look to see where I can help those less fortunate than I.

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