Let’s stop pretending like we care about the budget — and go for broke. Because that’s exactly what we are.
Have you ever heard a toddler describe a really big number? They tend to use words like “bajillion” and “gazillion” to describe any number higher than 100.
This is exactly what our national debt sounds like.
Currently standing at $21 trillion (and growing), the national debt is beyond our collective cognitive capacity to calculate. There are literally not enough fingers and toes in the world to “this little piggy” count this unfathomable dollar figure.
What’s even more confusing about our astronomical debt is how we debate about it — so in, we don’t.
Yet, day after day, we watch pundits and politicians battle over spending — you know, the thing that causes debt. Politicos argue about the budget as if it is actually a thing. The budget is as about as real as Santa, the Easter Bunny, or a day without a tweet from our president.
Speaking of fiction, my third favorite episode of Parks and Recreation is season 4, episode 4 — better known as the “Treat yo’ self” episode. (In case you are wondering, “Ron and Tammy: Part Two” and “Li’l Sebastian” are tied for number one.) As they do every October 13th, Tom and Retta spend the entire day engaging in a level of conspicuous consumption that would make a Kardashian blush. The two characters purchase anything and everything that makes them happy. When either one experiences a moment of self-doubt (“Should I really buy this?”), their counterpart quickly rebukes this prudence by reminding them of their spendthrift motto: “Treat yo’ self!”
It’s high time that the federal government applies the “treat yo’ self” philosophy to all fiscal matters. Then, we could simply put all budgetary debates to rest, because we are obviously not getting anywhere by conventional means.
Medicare for all? Sure, but shouldn’t we also insure our pets just to be safe?
A 2,000-mile border wall? You bet! It’s time to turn the Great Wall of China into the “Meh Wall of China.” Make China’s Wall not so great again!
Federal jobs guarantee? Makes sense, but why stop at just one job for every American? Let’s make it two. Young people already seem to be engaged in a polyamorous relationship with the jobs market, taking on multiple partners. I would hate to be a third wheel. Or fourth or fifth, for that matter.
Free college tuition for everybody? Every American house needs a wall adorned with at least four bachelor’s degrees, two master’s, a doctorate, and some certificate of participation from the Electoral College.
Universal basic income? “Basic” sounds too pedestrian; why not “platinum” or “gold” instead?
Green New Deal? We need a solar panel on every roof, a wind farm in every backyard, and a Prius in every garage.
The world’s greatest defense? Maybe we can just buy out our enemies and purchase all of their military arsenals. It might be cheaper in the long run, and I’m sure folks like North Korea could really use the money.
Let’s use that well-funded military to point every ICBM at the debt ceiling and blast out of the stratosphere.
Who needs a Muslim ban when we have this much pork?
Another perk: We don’t have to worry about government shutdowns again. That is, until the inevitable international debt crisis hits our economy and the government simply shutdowns one last time — permanently. Until then, let’s party like it’s 1,999 trillion!
This speculative fiction may seem out of this world, but it is actually quite feasible if you think about it. It is the logical conclusion of saying “just put it on my credit card” every day of your life until the day you die, and bequeathing the bill to your children, who then can pass it along to their children, and so on. You can’t take it with you, folks. May our future generations be forever indebted to our lasting legacy.
And the only way to do this is to quit pretending and just go for broke — because that it is literally what we are.
Treat yo' self, America.