On the negative side, the bill will cut $8.6 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years. Hardly a compassionate cut.
My deeper concern, however, is the fact that this bill — with plenty of pork in it — will add to our national debt, which is now over $17 trillion. The bill might slow the rate of debt increase, but does not begin to pay down our national debt. Is slowing the rate of increase a reason to celebrate?
Are we going the way of pre-Hitler Germany?
The German mark before World War I had an exchange rate to the U.S. dollar of 4-2, when both countries were on the gold standard. When the Allies demanded that Germany pay war reparations that it could not pay, Germany began to devalue its currency. In other words, they printed money. Sound familiar?
By Nov. 5, 1923, the price of a 2-kilo loaf of bread had soared from 20 billion marks to 140 billion — which, not surprisingly, sparked nationwide riots. On Nov. 12, an American dollar would fetch 630 billion marks. Inflation and the rich getting richer were now shaping German society. Hitler blamed this concentration of wealth on the Jewish bankers and promised to stem inflation.
How can we as a country allow our government to keep on printing money and borrowing from foreign nations? Not only that, interest rates are being kept artificially low, in part to keep low our interest payment on our national debt. Can you imagine paying interest on a $17 trillion debt at historically normal interest rates?
I fault both political parties for this dismal scenario. The only time the national debt is talked about is when the debt ceiling comes up for debate, which is a debate whether to pay the bills for things already spent. The time to get upset about the national debt is now, so cuts in spending can be put in place to make another debt ceiling debate in March of 2015 no longer necessary because the national debt will be going down — if we begin to cut spending.
In order to reduce the national debt, we also need to revise our tax code to make it more fair and bring in revenue from closing all the loopholes.
Where is the moral outrage at our national debt? I do not see it. The media rather focus on murder trials or the Super Bowl.
I was born in 1947. The average income was $2,854, a new car cost $1,290, a loaf of bread was 13 cents, a gallon of gas was 15 cents, a new house was $6,650. And the minimum wage was 40 cents an hour. Look where we are today, 67 years later!
Whoever would have thought in the ‘50s that to be very rich in 2014 you must be a billionaire, or whatever it takes to be a member of the 1-percenters?
To be millionaire used to mean something. Now, the football coaches at Michigan and Michigan State make over $10,000 a day, and many baseball players make much more than that. What has happened to our society?
Do our churches deal with these issues from the pulpit?
When a government continues to print money to pay its debts and cover up its sins, is it any surprise that the 1-percenters have the ability to get much of this cash splashing around into their own bank accounts? The middle and lower classes have no such ability, and thus their wealth has been stagnant for 20 years.
When President Reagan took office, the national debt was $700 billion. Look at what we have done to our burden of debt since the ‘80s. Presidents of both parties have shown little willingness to make the reduction of debt a priority — not simply reducing the annual deficit but tackling the national debt. Our federal government is truly addicted to spending.
The heart of western religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — is morality. The moral issue of our times, in my view, is our national debt.
If we think what happened to Germany after World War I cannot happen here, then we are as blind to the consequences of debt as the world was in 1923 leading up to World War II, a war in large part caused by Germany's war debts and hyperinflation.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist