• "Hey, Buddy, Can You Lend Me A Billion?"

    Aug. 19, 2010
    A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money.
    Everett Dirksen

    A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money.
    –Everett Dirksen

    I don't know about you, but I find all the news about our national debt and the debt problems in Europe quite frightening, to say the least. Not only that, but it appears I am not alone as I watch the roller-coaster ride of global stock markets that are influenced by reoccurring fears of one or another European country collapsing under its debt.

    It made me wonder how those foreign countries got into the mess they're in, so I did a little digging and found it’s quite a vicious cycle, as described on http://tinyurl.com/26vp8fh.

    It seems that Greece owes $367 billion and Ireland owes $865 billion, mostly to other European economies. Then Spain and Italy each owe $1 trillion, mainly to France, Britain and Germany, who are struggling because they lent all their money to other European economies that can't possibly pay it back. So what are they going to do? The only thing they can do is bail them out, but where are they going to get the money?

    That brings us to the question of how broke economies can lend money to other broke economies, who haven't got any money because they can't pay back the money the broke economies lent to the other broke economies who shouldn't have lent it to them in the first place because the broke economy couldn't pay it back.

    Then you have Spain owing Italy $41 billion and Italy owing Spain $27 billion, but they haven't got it because they're both broke. Since neither can pay the other off, they'll have to get a bailout. Ah, the magical word. But where is the money coming for the bailout? Obviously, from other economies who have no money.

    With the financial meltdown and massive debt problems that somehow require repayment, it appears that many Europeans are rethinking the entire premise of the European Union. It's one thing to redistribute income from the richer European countries and give it to their own poor, but a lot different when those countries' socialist charity goes to the siesta-taking Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. Suddenly, the individuality of their respective cultures, nationalism and language is trumping all the lofty speeches of the greatness of the collective European Union.

    What truly bothers me, as if anyone cared, is that many of our elected officials are intent on moving the United States into the same redistributed income charity model that has been the norm in Europe for decades. In my opinion, cradle-to-grave entitlements, outlandish government-paid pensions, socialized medicine and similar programs all come at a cost – that is obviously unsustainable – while at the same time leading to greater dependence on government and continually decreasing worker productivity. I don't buy it, and from what I can determine, history has proven it doesn't work. So why are we trying to emulate it?

    Don Frendberg, Executive vice president / COO