In the Mirror


Twin Bill: Big Government, Big Us

Blog From
January 12th, 2011

You know the old wives’ tale about husbands and wives starting to look like each other after a few decades of marriage? Well, the same thing is true of the Federal Government and its citizens. As our Government has grown bigger and bigger and bigger, so have our own waistlines. Today, we’re all huge, government and the rest of us alike. Just look in the mirror. What do you see? Hefty. Triple-Plus. And, there doesn’t seem to be a limit to our growth potential.

We’ve ballooned up in a hurry. On this day back in 2008, our federal debt was $9.3 trillion. Today, thirty-six short and stocky months later, the debt is $14 trillion or an increase of 66%. There’s no end in sight because the Feds are consuming 62% more than we give them on an annual basis. At that rate, the national debt will devour the economy and eat away our credit rating in less than nine years. Right now, economic weight watchers are screaming for debt reduction before a fatal fiscal heart attack. But, it’s impossible for Congress to hear them above the deafening din of its non-stop gnawing on borrowed money.

And then there’s the rest of us. We’ve grown a hefty health crisis that threatens death both to people and the health care system. In the twenty years ending in 2010, obesity in our population increased by a belt busting 132%. By 2009, at least one in four adults were obese in 33 of our states. In the past few years, another roll around the waist of the health scare behemoth has appeared, childhood obesity. Today, 33% of children and teens are either overweight or obese. 80% of obese kids between the ages of 10 and 13 years will be obese as adults. The problem is so huge that it is now the number one health concern of parents for their offspring.

As far as dollars go, in the ten years ending in 2008, the medical costs of treating obesity and its related health problems doubled. At its current rate of growth, obesity will gobble up 21% of the health care spending pie by 2018. That’s $344 billion, making health care for all increasingly unaffordable. If we don’t get a grip on more than our fat handles, we’ll be crushed under our own weight.

And we know exactly what the matter is. Both the Feds and the rest of us are in the same sinking boat. Our will-power paddled away years ago. Gone is our discipline, self-control, restraint.  We see, we eat. Or, in the case of Congress, spend. We’re lazy, too. The only thing we exercise on a regular basis is our knife and fork. Or, if you’re on Capitol Hill, the heavy lifting is limited to all that borrowed money. We act like the piper will never come calling.

We also have tons of excuses for our behavior and most of them hurl blame on everyone except us. But, all we have to do is watch an episode or two of The Biggest Loser for a dose of reality. If those folks can get their act together, we can, too. Just because fast food commercials pitch enough gut garbage to kill us in a single sitting doesn’t mean we have to bite.

Conquering our weight problem means reducing our calories with much better food choices and increasing physical exercise. It’s the same for the Feds. Cutting spending is the only way to reduce the debt. Our representatives have to get their feet out of the trough, too, and on the road to fiscal fitness.

In the meantime, pass the potato chips.

See you in the mirror.

Posted in In the Mirror