John Andrist: When All The Spending Stops

What do Greece, the United States and your family all have in common?

The world has been focussed this past week on the impending bankruptcy of Greece. Most of us don’t really understand why, but the turmoil in Greece is having a huge impact on all of Europe, and a significant impact on those of us on this side of the world.

And it is not only Greece. Puerto Rico could be right behind. Like Detroit, and possibly Chicago, if they don’t get bailed out.

Thousands of American families take bankruptcy every year, but we don’t pay too much attention to them, because they are small enough so the ripples don’t lead into the backyards of the rest of us — unless we happened to be the creditors who sold them some of the high ticket items that got them into trouble in the first place.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]It hasn’t been that easy for Greece. They danced through the largesse of socialist policies, paying themselves out of the public treasury for all kinds of goodies, oblivious to the approach of the time when creditors would say, “No more! It isn’t worth the risk.”[/mks_pullquote]

Economics can be pretty complicated, but it can also be reduced to simplicities.

After all, we learned when we were children that you can’t spend more money than you earn.

The more serious question we have to ask ourselves is, could it happen to our country? For more than a dozen years now we have been accumulating massive debt. Is it now $13 trillion?

Okay. So it’s just a big number. Some of us worry mightily about that debt. Others think it is okay, because somebody is continuing to bail us out by lending the money.

Trouble is, we can’t know when we reach the point when our roosters come home to roost. It’s when the bank says no, or when the credit cards are maxed out.

It hasn’t been that easy for Greece. They danced through the largesse of socialist policies, paying themselves out of the public treasury for all kinds of goodies, oblivious to the approach of the time when creditors would say, “No more! It isn’t worth the risk.”

Could it happen in the U.S., as it apparently is happening in Detroit? Of course it can. We just don’t know if or when the point arrives when our national credit card is maxed out.

If it happens, the first to learn about it would be the recipients of Social Security, federal pensions, Medicare, human services. Or we could steal it. (Think devaluation of the dollar, which robs everyone’s savings.)

You can only get so far through taxes and borrowing When the well runs dry our thirst has lost its quench.

As a fiscal conservative I would prefer we balanced spending and revenue, and I worry that we aren’t. But the folks who need to be worrying the most are those of you much younger.

We know the direction we are going. We just don’t know if or when we will get to where Greece lives.

High cost of medicine

A favorite parlor game is, “Do you know how much my medical bill was  . . .?

It gets to be a game of one-upmanship.

A number of years ago I went thru the rite of aging. Cataract surgery. The doc offered to make a small cut on each eye to lessen my astigmatism. All it took was one extra cut in the eyeball, requiring perhaps 15 seconds.

Fast forward to today. My daughter is preparing for the same procedure, and she has received the same “extra”, to lesson her astigmatism.

But she has been quoted $1,950 for each eye, not payable by insurance. That comes to $480,000 per hour.

Bet you can’t top that one! Whatever you do, don’t tell my dentist.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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