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It is often said that we are passing our national debt on to our children and...

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armyof32000 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted July 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM via web

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It is often said that we are passing our national debt on to our children and grandchildren. Is this true? Explain.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 25, 2013 at 11:21 PM (Answer #1)

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When a country (or any entity) spends more money that it takes in, debt is created. The United States is in debt. The U. S. government is borrowing money to cover the shortfall between the amount of money it collects and the amount of money it spends, and interest must be paid on that borrowed money. Only two meaningful things can happen to eradicate that debt: bring in more money and/or spend less. It seems to be one of the most difficult tasks in the country to get the Federal government to spend less, and the cuts which have been implemented are not significant enough to make too much difference. That means the debt is not going away anytime in the very near future.

You tagged this question in the social science area, so I assume you are looking for more of a philosophical and practical discussion rather than an elaborate economic formula or explanation. It only seems fair that the group of people (the generation) who created and benefited from the debt should be responsible for paying it off. If the debt can be reduced or eliminated in the next ten or twenty years, perhaps, that will have happened and all will be well.

If, however, those who created and benefited from the debt either fail to pay down the current debt or create more debt, it is the next generation that will have to unfairly suffer the consequences and bear the financial burden of repayment. That means that "our children and grandchildren" will have to work longer (and perhaps harder) to meet their own needs because their tax burden is so heavy; this, in turn, leads to a multitude of other problems such as less time for families to spend together and less discretionary income to spend (so not as many private lessons or elaborate family vacations).

In short, it is not fair that those who did not make the mess should have to clean it up, and that is what will happen, it seems, if something does not change in the next decade or two. 

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