Early in my college years, I’d never had a credit card. I’d never had a full-time job and I’d also never needed credit. But I was walking through a Sears store at University Mall in Tuscaloosa one day when an attractive girl stopped me to talk. It turned out she was working for Sears, getting people to apply for credit cards.
The pitch was simple. There was some kind of gift — of marginal value, I’m sure — that she would give me if I’d just fill out the application. Plus, she said, she would make some money if I just applied. I explained to her that I wasn’t working and didn’t have any income, so I obviously wasn’t who they wanted. But she said it would help her, so I relented. I’d get a free gift — and how many college boys find it easy to say, “no,” to pretty college girls?
I forgot all about it, but one day before long I received a shiny new Sears credit card in the mail with my name on it. The credit limit was $350, if I remember correctly. What did I do? Did I tuck the card away to use in case I really needed something? Did I hold onto it to use a little here and there to build credit by paying the bill responsibly? No way. I went out that very moment and bought a VCR that I couldn’t afford, maxing out the card in the process.
I spent the next five years or so paying that VCR off, making the minimum payment most of the time and probably paying three times what it was worth.
Uncle Sam has had a credit card before, but he’s no more responsible than my 19-year-old self was. Just this week, Congress gave the Obama administration authority to borrow more money. On Tuesday, the feds went on a wild borrowing spree, pushing the national debt up by $239 billion — eating up 60 percent of the newly authorized borrowing.
I hope we get more out of it than a lousy, overpriced VCR, but I doubt it.
Politicians like to talk a lot about fiscal responsibility, but their actions say entirely different things. The truth is that politicians like to spend money. They like to spend other people’s money. Better yet, they like to spend money that they’ve borrowed and insist that other people pay back.
Anyone who believes that there’s any chance of stopping the runaway freight train of federal debt is living on Fantasy Island. Anyone who believes that any politician — of any party — can change things is just denying reality.
We’re heading quickly toward economic collapse. Thursday’s market plunge was a tiny tremor. Politicians and unelected bureaucrats will keep pumping up the economy by inflating the money supply and borrowing every nickel they can get their hands on, but it’s not going to be enough. Whether it’s this year or next year or five years from now, the bubble will burst. It’s going to be ugly when it happens.