But the point is, this is why the political arguments about the deficit tend to be somewhat full of shit -- it's not a war between the hard-working private sector and the evil oppressive big government. It's about how much money the government should pump into the private sector to keep it afloat, and how much debt it can take on.
Which finally brings us to ...
America Doesn't Have a Debt Crisis (Not Yet, Anyway)
What You've Heard:
If there's one thing politicians and pundits like to preach doom and gloom about, it's the oncoming debt Armageddon. The United States is spending money like a lottery winner with terminal cancer and racking up debt much faster than it can repay it. The U.S. now owes $16 trillion, a number so high, we don't even know how many zeroes it has. Politicians frequently use a bunch of fancy graphs to highlight the fact that America is running headlong into financial ruin. Washington, they say, is going to have to curb its spending fast or else we're going to wind up like Greece -- utter collapse, followed by rioting in the streets (as a common talking point goes).
Although it does look a little like certain parts of St. Louis.
But Actually ...
The raw number is mind-boggling, but that number only matters when compared to the size of the economy. For instance, if you personally wound up $20 million in debt, your only option would be faking your own death and starting a new life in some foreign land. Donald Trump, on the other hand, takes on $20 million in debt on impulse purchases he barely notices. It all comes down to how rich you are, and the U.S. economy is the Donald Trump in that scenario (the total assets of the USA are around $200 trillion).
So for instance, one way to measure how screwed a country is involves measuring public debt against gross domestic product (to compare their debt to their economy). For the U.S., that ratio is 73 percent, which seems high, but it means we're in better shape than Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries you don't think of as being on the verge of getting their land repossessed (Japan, for example, is at 214 percent).
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We have no idea why.