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Book Review - I.O.U.S.A One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt
I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of a finance junkie and love talking money. With everything going on in the economy and the government passing expensive stimulus packages and trying to save America the way we know it, I was very interested when I heard about the book I.O.U.S.A. One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt by Addison Wiggin and Kate Incontrera. I for one think that Americans have been over spending for way too long and it is finally catching up to us. What is even worse though, is that the United States government has been over spending for way too long too and it also is finally catching up to us. And it isn't going to be good.
On page 21 there is a quote that sums up America's problem: "America faces four serious deficits today. The first is a budget deficit; the second is a savings deficit; the third is a balance of payments deficit, of which the trade deficit is a subset; and the fourth and most serious of all is a leadership deficit." Yikes! The American government seems to be in trouble and they aren't setting a good example for the people.
The book talks a lot about the federal debt. It is amazing to me how much the United States owes other countries. We are one of the largest, most developed countries and we should be leaders of the world. But when it comes down to it, we owe so much money to other countries, China in particular, that we could be in serious trouble if those countries wanted to be repaid. In 2007 "the United States borrowed 65% of all the money that was borrowed in the world - and 10 times as much as the next biggest borrower." (p73) This can't bode well for our future.
In 1835 the federal debt was finally back down to $0 and that is the only time in American history that it has been at $0. After that time the United States got back into debt with each war we were in, but quickly paid the debt down again afterwards. Until the 1980's when the federal debt exploded - and nothing has really been done about it since that time. Most of those years, not only did we have a ton of debt, but we were running our government on budget deficits. There were only a few years in there when we had a budget surplus, and now we are back into deficit spending. This is no way to run a government!
But unfortunately that is the way Americans have been living for way too long. Borrowing money, living a life filled with debt, decreased savings, etc have become a way of life for Americans, and it seems we are quite addicted to debt. Most people can't live without borrowing money. So it makes sense, in a way, why the government can't either. Owing other people money has become such a way of life that it is the norm now and the people running the government see no problem with deficit spending at the government level either. This will come back to bite us, or our grandkids, and we will regret it.
I.O.U.S.A was an eye opening book to read about our government and how it works. It was a dry read and I found it difficult to get through at times, a bit confusing to the average person unfortunately. But, it was made into a documentary that would be much easier to get through and I really wish I had watched that instead of reading the book. If you are interested in the history of the United States when it comes to finances and debt this would be a very good book to read. It really did make me think.