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Wars, Bail-Outs and Jello Shots: Because Unsustainable Debt is the American Way!

I remember when I got my first credit card.  Some nice people had set up a picnic table on campus, and they were giving out free t-shirts if you would merely fill out a form and apply.  I also remember … Read More

By / September 25, 2008

I remember when I got my first credit card.  Some nice people had set up a picnic table on campus, and they were giving out free t-shirts if you would merely fill out a form and apply.  I also remember that the sales girl was a sexy blonde wearing little more than the free t-shirt that came with the card.  That pretty much sealed the deal.

In a few weeks, the card arrived, and like most of your idiot undergrads, I went right over to my local CD shop and picked up about a half-dozen albums that I seemed to need at the time.  Suddenly I also had money for gas and movie tickets and a new bike.  Before I knew it, the card was maxed out…as it turns out, there were these "limits" that I was not aware of. 

But MBNA was kind enough to raise my credit limit, just in time for spring break.  Luckily I didn’t have to spend actual money on those jello shots and Natural Lights and bail – I had a magic card, you see.  Even when the bills came due, I was happy to see that although I owed thousands, my buddies at MBNA were happy to accept forty or fifty a month.  What great guys!

Since I made minimum payments for years, I figure that those watered-down spring break drinks probably ended up costing me about thirty beans each.

The United States has a magic card, too.  We decided to put a whole war on it, for the first time in our history.  And to think that prior generations actually paid for such things more-or-less up front (chumps)!  So far, we have charged about a cool trillion for Iraq, and add hundreds of billions more every year.

I didn’t want to pick up more hours at my job in college, but I wanted those CDs and jello shots…so I did it the easy and stupid way.  Our leaders didn’t want to ask us to sacrifice anything, but they also wanted to attack Iraq….so they did it the easy and stupid way. 

Like me, they plan to make minimum payments on our debt, which is apparently the American way.  Once the interest accrues and compounds, giving the Iraqis the right to dip their fingers in purple paint and vote for their vicious local tribal leaders will cost us well over three trillion dollars.  And counting.

Keep all this in mind as the Secretary of the Treasury asks us to let him throw another $700 billion on our national magic card.

The bailout is going to cost each of us about $2300.  But really, since our grandkids are already going to be inheriting a debt of at least $50,000 each, what’s a couple of grand more, really?

Nerds like me might point out that massive, unsustainable debt has historically brought great powers to their knees as efficiently as hordes of barbarians from the east.  Countries are creditors as they grow, and debtors as they decline.  But who likes nerds, really, anyway?  Can’t I just shut my trap and suck down the jello shot?

Christopher Fettweis, author of Losing Hurts Twice As Bad, is guest blogging on Jewcy.  Tomorrow he’ll publish his parting post.  Stay tuned. 

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