Our crazy debt party is over

By Tom Purcell, Special for the Katy Times

My God, I hate debt.

I have been in debt from time to time. When I was younger, I took out a car loan for a nice set of wheels that I really couldn’t afford.

I borrowed money, I didn’t need to buy a very nice stereo.

A few years after becoming self-employed, I had to get a line of credit to pay my taxes.

Few things are less pleasant than going into debt to pay off your debt.

Struggling with debt is therefore something that I have worked hard to avoid throughout my life.

Borrowing isn’t always bad, that’s for sure. Borrowing for a home or to buy rental properties has worked very well for me.

But reckless borrowing never works out well, and I can’t avoid the Mount Everest of debt my government has incurred through a variety of spending policies that I consider reckless.

The federal government now holds a record debt of $31 trillion.

How much is a staggering sum like $31 trillion?

According to a calculator, it’s 31 trillion or 31 billion thousand.

Here’s a number that might make a little more sense to you if you’re not Janet Yellen.

MSN.com reports that $31 trillion translates to more than $93,000 in debt for every person in the country.

Our political leaders did not worry much about our huge national debt because for years inflation rates were low and interest rates on borrowed money also remained low.

Today, inflation is skyrocketing and the Federal Reserve hopes to bring it under control by raising interest rates.

High interest rates are painful.

Consider: Not even a year ago you could get a 3% mortgage. Now the average is closer to 7%.

A 3% mortgage on $100,000 borrowed is equivalent to about $420 per month for 30 years.

A 7% mortgage on $100,000 borrowed works out to about $665 a month for 30 years, or a $245 increase in cost.

Well, unfortunately for all of us taxpayers, the same pain happens with federal debt.

When interest rates were very low, servicing our national debt was manageable.

But now interest payments are growing rapidly, and Fox Business says they are already “expected to be the fastest-growing part of the federal budget in fiscal year 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

What size?

This year, the cost of servicing debt will be around $400 billion, according to the CBO. But in 10 years, we will pay $1.2 trillion.

We will spend more on debt than many of our major government programs.

In other words, we will need to borrow more money than we don’t have to pay interest on the money we borrowed because we didn’t have it.

I may be an English student, but I have been worried about such a calculation for a long time.

Consider that five years ago the federal debt was $21 trillion and it has grown by $10 trillion in that short time.

Consider that 20 years ago it was $6 trillion.

These monstrous debt figures have long been unsustainable and many people have warned us of what is to come. Heck, even I knew that historically low interest rates couldn’t last forever.

And now the bill for our drunken debt party is coming due – and our national pain has begun.

Tom Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, is a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at [email protected].