The United States is over $17 trillion in debt, social security has become financially unsustainable, and entitlement spending is completely out-of-control. But these critical issues get little attention from most young Americans who are usually busy arguing, posting, and blogging about the latest social issue.
The current flavor of the minute? Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and gay rights.
A&E recently decided to “indefinitely suspend” Robertson due to comments he made about homosexuals during an interview with GQ magazine. His comments were perceived as “anti-gay” by many, so it is no surprise that the issue has the spotlight right now.
Although debates about social agendas are certainly important, they have been taking precedence over other critical issues, which often get no attention from America’s young voters. Ask them about the enormous federal debt or the coming entitlement tsunami that will bankrupt the country, and they often have little to offer of substance.
On Thursday alone, I counted over 30 articles and pictures on my Facebook newsfeed about Phil Robertson and gay rights — but I can honestly say that I haven’t seen 30 post related to fiscal issues over the last year.
When an enormous percentage of my Facebook friends are passionately discussing social issues on a regular basis but never comment on vital fiscal issues, it shows a disjointed priority list.
It is easy to understand — supporting a cause like gay rights makes us feel good. We all have friends and faces behind the issue. It doesn’t require much effort to comprehend gay rights and to give a feel-good opinion. We can then all smile and revel in our self-righteousness.
But sequestration? Yawn… Budget debates? Meh… That’s too complicated to think about, and after all it’s almost happy hour. $17 trillion in debt? Yeah, that sounds like a lot. How many zeros are in that again? Oh, and what’s for dinner?
This apparent disinterest worries me. If Washington’s out-of control-spending continues, our national debt is projected to be over $20 trillion when Obama leaves office in 2016. Young people will carry the burden of this debt for decades to come.
We have already seen irresponsible spending ruin cities like Detroit. What used to be one of America’s greatest cities slowly morphed into a bankrupted disaster when liberalism took the city by storm in the 1960’s. Detroit is now home to a plunging tax base — but rather than cut spending, politicians instead continue to raise taxes to try and make up for it. In fact, Detroit has the highest property and commercial taxes in the country. Additionally, its per capita tax rate is the highest in Michigan. Business owners and venture capitalists have fled the city, leaving less wealth available to fund government programs and pensions.
The US should consider Detroit the canary to its coal mine.
Even if we paid off the $17 trillion federal debt today, every man, woman, and child would owe more than $50,000. And this statistic is misleading because children do not pay taxes, nor do the poor.
Monetary policy and national security threats may be boring and depressing to discuss, but these issues are important to understand. Young Americans should be engaging in conversation about many problems facing this country, both social and fiscal, to discover how positive changes can be made.