I usually avoid topics of religion and politics.
But recently I watched the president's State of the Union address, and then the Democratic rebuttal. They certainly said a lot of things. What stood out to me, though, was what both sides DIDN'T talk about.
No one even mentioned the $128 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities we're pushing down the road for our kids to pay for.
And no one talked about the $1 TRILLION federal spending deficit.
As a nation, the U.S. now has a debt to GDP ratio well over 100%. I’m not sure how many Americans understand how that puts every one of their hard-earned dollars at risk. Not to mention the risk it presents to the largest economy on earth.
In my opinion, the fiscal irresponsibility of both parties is certainly a bigger threat to our country than any of the issues they frequently fight over. Yet neither party has ever seriously promoted a balanced budget amendment. Instead, both parties are mortgaging the future of our children at record rates.
Perhaps the reason no Democrat or Republican will put this in their stump speech is because both parties know that our deficit and spending habits are now beyond repair. Contrary to what we heard tonight, though, our nation is NOT stronger than ever. In fact, the economic bubble might be bigger than ever.
The Federal Reserve has a stated goal of maintaining price stability and employment stability. Yet the Federal Reserve is still expanding the nation's balance sheet by printing more money to take care of the government's financial woes. I’m not sure how many voters understand the interplay between monetary and fiscal policy.
Am I making this up? Well, both the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office both submit annual reports that continually warn that the current fiscal path we are on is “unsustainable.” You can read it for yourself here.
The stock market may have doubled, but the gross domestic product – what we actually produce – has not kept pace. Right now, our current “thriving” economy is a manufactured situation. It's more a result of what we borrow and print instead of the fruits of what we produce.
From an earnings standpoint, the price we are paying for stocks to put in our 401(k) is alarming. This is easy to see in this historical chart of the Shiller PE Ratio.
The president knows this but doesn’t talk about it. And it's doubtful that any other politician understands it, because no one even talks about it.
As social creatures, we are hard-wired to give allegiance to whichever tribe we belong. Study after study shows how difficult it can be for any of us to psychologically detach from that allegiance. Whether it's your favorite basketball team, religion, political party, or anything else.
But this isn't a rivalry of “Us vs. Them.” This isn't a game. This is the financial survival of our system. And what they do in Washington by frivolously spending without limits has a direct effect on all of us.
If you have a self concept of having an open mind, you might enjoy discovering a little bit about how our brains naturally tend to divide us from each other. For me, detaching my allegiance to any specific party has been quite liberating.
One of my favorite podcasts is called You Are Not So Smart. This smart and thought-provoking show dives into how our brains work and how to overcome our own self-delusions. It's powerful stuff.
Here is a link to the transcript for episode 122 of You Are Not So Smart for you to think about. It's a deep dive into Tribal Psychology that we all experience. I highly recommend it if you like to look within yourself to improve yourself as a human.
And here's to a (hopefully) brighter future for all of us!