You Owe $43,500 as an Indebted American. Could You Pay Your Share?

by Darwin on October 3, 2010

With approximately 310 Million Americans and the US National Debt at about 13.5 Trillion, each man, woman and child owes over $43,000.  This number has been rising somewhat steadily for decades and has spiked dramatically during the past several years.  Combinations of wars, tax cuts, lavish spending, bailouts, a Recession, and a complete lack of fiscal discipline has led to the current situation which can be summed up in one word:  UNSUSTAINABLE.

I know, this isn’t something to worry about now.  Our children will pick up the bill down the road.  Well, aside from the fact that future progeny will and should resent us for what is essentially generational theft, who do you think is going to fund your retirement and government services in your golden years?  The working class just being born now.  If they are burdened with high interest rates, stagnant growth and menial job opportunities for generations to come, maybe from a purely selfish standpoint, people will start to think about how it impacts them, since so few seem to care about kicking the can down the road now.

This is not a political statement, it is a reminder of the sad, sad situation our country is in financially.  Regardless of your political affiliation, this fall, perhaps it’s worthwhile voting based on this over whether you’re worried about someone taking your gun or overturn Roe v. Wade.  Let the courts fight that out, focus on who’s going to move the needle in the right direction with regard to our nation’s fiscal matters.  Maybe you’ll want to consider their stance on government spending, new entitlements, wars, taxes, trade and other factors that will greatly mold the future demise or prosperity of this great nation.

As to the question, if we ever had to settle up, I could pay for myself and so could my wife, but not our 3 children without liquidating our retirement account.  And I suspect I’m in the minority on even being able to cover the adults in our household.

Could You Pay Your Share?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Wohlner October 4, 2010 at 7:19 am

As the father of three this is depressing. What bugs me about this is typified by my state Illinois. I never hear anything about fiscal responsibility by our governor or state leaders, just the need for increased taxes. In my corporate finance days we used to take a ruler and go line by line through departmental budgets and question EVERY line item. I doubt anyone in Springfield has ever thought of this. Its not the expenditures themselves that bother me, its the vast waste and lack of accountablity that infuriates me.


Invest It Wisely October 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm

That number is bad enough as it is, but I believe that if you add in the net present value of all unfunded obligations, then the number is much worse… that’s quite a substantial load for each American to save up simply to fund future obligations.


Roger, the Amateur Financier October 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Could I pay my share? Short answer: No. If I completely liquidated all my savings and investments (retirement included), I’d be able to cover about half my share. With any luck, in a few years I’ll have boosted that amount of money up, but currently, no, I can’t afford it.

As for voting based on financial considerations rather than social policy, it is a tempting option; I’ve been strongly tempted by some of the ‘Tea Party’ candidates based on their fiscal policies, even though I strongly disagree with the social policies they seem to espouse. Still, I’d like to see more acknowledgment that raising taxes is likely to be a part of righting our economic ship, especially if we as a society are unwilling to completely eliminate spending in areas as diverse as Social Security and defense, but that’s something nobody seems willing to admit.


Udayan Chattopadhyay May 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

No I cannot pay my share… PERIOD! Just curious though… what shifts in policy would you recommend?


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