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The real picture

Posted: August 16, 2011 9:10 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2011 5:00 a.m.

For many families here in Kershaw County, all this talk about the federal budget and the national debt involves numbers so huge as to be inexplicable. Families think in thousands of dollars, while the government thinks in trillions. Someone passed along to us recently one of those missives that make their way around the country, and unlike many such messages with their wild inaccuracies, the figures in it are a pretty valid picture of what’s going on in America. Consider:

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year, and the current one looks like this:

• U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000.

• Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000.

• New debt this year: $1,650,000,000,000.

• Total national debt: $14,271,000,000,000.

• Recent budget cuts in Washington: $38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget).

By cutting eight zeroes out of these figures, we can reduce them to numbers that are similar to an average family’s budget. So let’s look at what the Smiths here in Kershaw County are doing:

• Total annual income for the Smiths: $21,700.

• Amount of money the Smiths will spend this year: $38,200.

• Amount of new debt added to the Smiths’ credit card this year: $16,500.

• Outstanding balance on that credit card: $142,710.

• Amount the Smiths have decided to reduce their spending this year: $385.

 If the Smiths sat down around the kitchen table and attacked their money problems by agreeing to cut $385, they’d be headed for financial oblivion. So is the United States. While this might seem simplistic, it’s nothing more than an “eight zeroes less” picture of what our elected officials are doing in Washington. Makes you wonder which credit card companies are still willing to deal with them, doesn’t it?

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