Well is appears insomnia has set in once again…for those of you who are new to this blog, it has remained relatively constant because of my perpetual insomnia. Tonight the key contributors are an intense Wire episode and what I can only presume to be a mouse. Do not worry roommates I will pick up some traps or something tomorrow to deal with it.
Another contributor may be the state of our country at the moment. I promise you, as I have in the past, that this is not the beginning of a move towards only covering political topics in this blog. For those of you who do not know, on Thursday, by most estimates, we will hit our debt ceiling. It would be the first time the United States would ever be at risk of defaulting on our debt. I am going to provide you all with a quick governmental budgeting lesson, then hopefully contain my emotion enough to air some reasonable concerns.
The debt ceiling provides room for the United States to meet its obligations to creditors, veterans, seniors, the poor, contractors, government employees, and the military to name a few. The debt ceiling truly has little to do with lowering the amount of money we have accrued in debt. This would be done through the annual budget process. If we buck up to the debt ceiling, the United States will be forced to pick and choose what bills to pay. Also, please….for the love of all that is holy…do not try comparing this to the American family or your personal financial decisions to those of the United States government. The United States government runs budgets well over the $3 trillion mark, let’s put that in perspective. A staff assistant on Capitol Hill makes roughly $26,000-$30,000. A staff assistant is typically a young person who is extremely talented, has spent several months interning for free, and wishes to serve the American citizenry. They are the public servants of the future. Should we default, we would need to decide whether to pay them or pay our creditors. I know I went on a side bar there, but let us trek on. The median income of the United States sits roughly at $50,000. The Top 2% make anything north of $250,000. The richest man in the United States, Bill Gates, is only worth ~$57,000,000,000. The United States government has a budget over 52 times as large as his net worth at $3,000,000,000,000. So please, do not make the comparison to the average family. It is vastly different. Further, the United States is the best investment. Bankers and traders use American Treasury bonds as collateral on a regular basis since they are viewed with such certainty. The current debate is undermining the certainty. Certainty is key to market success. Without the certainty that the United States will pay its bills, it remains difficult to envision us remaining as the economic super power of the world.
OK, so you understand the global financial system on a basic, rudimentary level. I am a mere neophyte on this stage as well, but I am trying to understand it more each and every day, Unlike some of our esteemed representatives in the United States government. As you can see, we are turning to my thoughts here about this crisis.
I find it childish, petty, and downright arrogant to not listen to experts. By my understanding, the United States Congress is not full of experts on finance. However, Wall Street is and the men and women of our most esteemed financial institutions have called Congress to act on the debt ceiling. These men and women, say what you will about their career path, are the experts when it comes to this. When you shoot yourself in the foot…call a doctor, your shower head all of a sudden explodes….call a plumber, you get mugged….call the police, you want to know more about finance….call the CEOs on Wall Street. These guys know what they are doing so listen.
It has been clearly laid out not only by the aforementioned CEOs, but also by our very own United States Treasury Department as to what will happen if we chose to blow through the debt ceiling. Despite their expert advice, some have chosen to ignore them.
This generation of leaders are quite frankly a sheer disappointment. They have fallen and continue to fall far short of leaving a better country for their children. They are responsible for the first downgrade of our credit in American history. They refuse to invest in infrastructure and transportation to get our nation moving forward again. Our economy is shaky at best, unstable at worst, yet they push us to the brink of default after a reckless shutdown of the government.
I am coming of age in what is being called the most divisive time in American politics since The Civil War. For some crazy reason though, politics and government is the only career field I am interested in pursuing. People say it often brings out the worst side of America, I am sure it can. However I have experienced it bring out the best. This weekend at my first Flyer wedding, I had the opportunity to engage in two wonderful conversations. The first with a stranger on the plane, the other was a friend’s significant other. Both conversations were with people who I politically disagree with, but they both offered me this hope for the future. It showed that people wanted to push beyond the surface divisions to talk far more intelligently.
Everyone hates on the current generation of recent college graduates. Either we are selfish or naive, undisciplined or narcissistic, lazy or entitled. I will tell you what we are…embarrassed. We are embarrassed that the generation before us thinks that it is ok to pass along a country that is slowly limping along. We should strive to make a better, smarter, more efficient country that can live up to our past and promise more for the future. I see a great deal of hope in us, I just hope something is left standing for us to improve and pass along to our children.
Until next time, be safe and make good decisions…