The video above is the 30-minute version of a documentary called I.O.U.S.A. The film is a very brief but clear explanation of what our national debt is, how it came to be, and what our financial future as a country looks like. Suffices to say, that outlook is bleak given our current habits.
I don’t have much background in all things financial, so what I might consider a helpful introduction to the national debt might be a laughably simple or misleading presentation in actuality. But until I find time to get a better understanding of our national debt situation, all I can provide is my interest in this short film.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the film is that it is ‘resolutely nonpartisan,’ to paraphrase one of the reviews. This is especially refreshing given the recent politically-charged atmosphere of election season. While both candidates were keen to place great emphasis on how taxes would not increase (accomplished by different means in each party), there was relatively little discussion on national debt.
One issue that was frequently mentioned throughout the campaign was the whole notion of how pork-barrel politics have allowed pet projects to be earmarked for millions of dollars of taxpayer money. I even ranted about the issue in a previous blog post here. But as I first heard Obama note during the second presidential debate and later during this documentary, those millions of dollars that have caused such outcry (especially among fiscal conservatives) in actuality only account for a mere 1% of the annual budget. Waste in any form is undesirable, but hardly the solution McCain advocated to solving our economic and budgetary woes.
The segment of the film that described how social security money is being spent to support some of our overspending was especially helpful to my understanding. The dynamic charts used in the film to animate the hidden cost of our spending concealed by social security spending was very striking. The borrowing of money from the social security “lock box” is now much more clearly integrated with the rest of the financial picture for me.
For a national debt newbie such as myself, watching the 30-minute documentary was time well spent. For many Americans, I might guess, such a film could be instrumental in raising awareness of a very serious and systemic problem in our government and fiscal attitudes. I’d highly recommend you take 30 minutes out of your day and give it a glance. Post your comments in response!
Until next time, bonnes pensées.