Marolt: IOU an explanation of the national debt | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: IOU an explanation of the national debt

Roger Marolt
Roger This

Believe me. The country is a complete disaster. Everything is a total mess. The president isn’t a citizen. Our policy makers have inked the stupidest deals ever. The press is controlled by the Clintons. The election is rigged. Mexicans are considered our equals. Islam is a legitimate religion. You can’t mimic people with physical disabilities. And, worst of all, copping a quick feel is now considered sexual assault, and you can’t joke around about how women look or call them names, even in the men’s locker room.

I hope you are not wasting any time worrying about our national debt. It’s only about $19 trillion. As the experts seem to take glee in pointing out, that’s approximately $56,375 owed per person to the Chinese, or roughly $236,775 for the average American family with 4.2 members.

But, I’m serious: It really is only about $19 trillion. That’s chump change compared to our nation’s total personal net worth, which is estimated to be around $85 trillion. As you can see, it would be easy for us to be debt free, if we needed to be, which we don’t. Look at it this way: The numbers above would be like any one of us owning an $850,000 house and having only a $190,000 loan on it. Or, as our total debt is approximately the same as our annual gross domestic product, it would be like a family with a household income of $100,000 having a mortgage of just $100,000. Who would feel like they were on the verge of financial ruin in these situations?

What about that huge number for each American citizen’s share of that debt, though? In contradiction to the hypothetical houses, income and mortgages above, most Americans would feel the financial squeeze if they suddenly had to come up with a $56,375 debt payment for every member of the family, even babies. Well, that number is nonsense and the average American’s share of the national debt is far lower than that.

Here’s the thing. When they quote a number that assigns the same amount of national debt to every person in the country, the ridiculous underlying assumption is that you are expected to cover the same portion of that debt as Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. While that $56,375 IOU payment might wipe the average Joe out, it amounts to about a day’s interest earned on a billionaire’s checking account. Obviously, that’s not how the government is going to pay off the national debt, if it hypothetically one day actually comes due.

What ever happened to the 2 percenters? Where are they when we need them? It seems like only yesterday it was all the rage to talk about the haves and have-nots using that term as if it was an inextricable extension of the word “the.” You remember the stats. The top 2 percent of the wealthiest people in the United States own 60 percent of the country’s wealth. More unbelievably, the top 20 percent of our wealthy own 93 percent of all financial assets and that leaves only 7 percent of the nation’s goodies to be thinly spread over the remain 80 percent of the population.

Now, I’m not going to claim that the glass is half full for Joe the Plumber in this regard, but, if the richest 20 percent of the people in this country are basically holding 93 percent of the stock portfolios, retirement account balances, timeshares and cash, doesn’t it make sense that they should pay off 93 percent of the country’s loan? Yes, of course it does and, so, that is the way it shall be because in a democracy, free of rigged elections and morons like Donald Trump trying to run it, 80 percent outvotes 20 percent every time.

Because it’s Friday, I want to provide you with evidence that will prove that we should all be very happy. While it is literally true that the average share of our nation’s mortgage is $56,375 per citizen, the actual amounts owed broken down by the means to pay it as evidenced by accumulated wealth is as follows: The regular working-class 80 percent of U.S. citizens are each, on average, responsible for about $4,933 of our collective debt. The top 20 percent would be responsible for around $262,144 each. And finally, the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans would have to pay back about $2.25 million each. While it’s not complete justice, it should prevent everyone from losing another second of sleep over this issue. And, now, I turn your attention back to the complete disaster and total mess of a country you live in.

Roger Marolt continues to make his living crunching numbers and his enemies by writing this weekly column. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.


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