My niece turned one and I want to be one of those uncles that gives a US savings bond as a birthday gift. For me its a meaningful gesture having been raised in a family that put no particular emphasis on money management. I signed up at treasury direct, figuring out how a gift would work. I veered over into the national debt and had to write again about money. (Info from the U.S. Treasury):
Clinton took the office in January 1993. For eight years the economy grew. The dot-com bubble inflated and popped. Still, the national debt grew by $1.2 trillion dollars over those eight years.
Bush took office Jan 2001. "Recession, Repression, War" is a bumper sticker i thought was accurate in the 2004 election. An increase of $3.2 trillion dollars is what Barak Obama and Congress will inherit.
What makes the debt somewhat comical is there is a law limiting the total national debt. Every year congress simply rewrites the law to increase the limit. Just like an American consumer on a path to insolvency.
Why does every government venture have fiscal limits except war? A war in self-defense makes sense to 'throw every thing we have at them' or perish, but the Iraq war is a far cry from self defense. Its empire building. Making the nation safe for democracy through weaponry.
A democratically controlled congress made no noticeable difference in the course of the war or the national debt. Perhaps there is an overriding feeling in congress of history and reverence for the office of the president and the system of law making which is even stronger than a disastrous, expensive, and unpopular war.
In the 60s, it was important to 'contain' communism. The US could not let the governmental system of communism spread to any more countries. The idea of philosophical control on the other side of the globe was so important that congress spent american lives like money for a philosophical battle.
"Almost 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1973, the United States spent $120 billion on the war ($700 billion in 2007 dollars). This resulted in a large federal budget deficit. The war demonstrated that no power, not even a superpower, has unlimited strength and resources."
58,217 americans killed. 153,452 americans wounded. a possible 1,200,000 dead vietnamese. wikipedia
What was the benefit of all the suffering, expense, and death?
"By the end of April (1975), the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam had collapsed on all fronts. Thousand of refugees streamed southward, ahead of the main communist onslaught. On April 27, 100,000 North Vietnamese troops encircled Saigon." wikipedia
My generation, Generation X, was born after the Vietnam War. Though we should not, we can forget what happened. Its an intellectual endeavor. Those who lost loved ones or limbs of their bodies or their healthly state of mind in the vietnam war cannot forget.
The same damage is being done to a new generation of 18 year olds, for an ideological pursuit half a world away. 29,000 wounded and 4,000 dead so far. Support the troops - bring them home, Barack Obama!