19 Jan. 2011
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The Debt of Our Children

 How Cold Is It?

Hand holding large icicle

I had to bring this inside because it was getting too chilly.

The National Debt

I'm in debt.  I owe $45,057, and possibly I even owe some of it to you.  No surprise, given the heading, that the $45k represents my portion of the national debt of the United States.  (My portion as a taxpayer is $126,983, which would seem to imply that only about 35% of citizens are taxpayers.)  You can check your debt at any time with the US Debt Clock.org.  Don't be shocked if it's somewhat higher than today's figure.

I was thinking about our debt in conjunction with the oft-repeated observation that we are leaving this as a "legacy for our children."  We are, willy-nilly, spending all this money today and and then somehow forcing "our children" to pay it back tomorrow.  Of course this must be bad since it's "our children" who will suffer.  And the "today" and "tomorrow" in the bromide strike me as profoundly unspecific.  Perhaps some of this debt has been passed on from "our parents" and will have to be paid by "our grandchildren."  Maybe we are innocent! 

As always, these political issues have far more aspects than the formulaic and polarizing arguments of the right and the left.  Although I personally subscribe to the Polonius Theory, I don't think that's necessarily appropriate for society as a whole, and in any event society never asked my opinion.  However, and just with respect to the "our children" part, I do have these thoughts:

  • If "my parents" had to take out a mortgage so that I didn't have to live outdoors with our friend in the picture above, I can cope with that even though I was never asked to ratify the decision.  Likewise, "our children" have calculators instead of slide rules, smartphones instead of 90 Volt B-batteries in their portable vacuum tube radios, and worries about Alzheimer's instead of polio.  They should be willing to thank us for their improved life and eschew whining about this debt that we've left them.

  • They can pass the debt on to their children.  "We" probably didn't bring them up any better than our parents did us.

The August West Chimney Sweep System

I saw that legend on a commercial van some time ago.  I can just visualize August and Pearly, covered in soot, presenting the bill and looking longingly at the homeowner's liquor cabinet.

"For Your Love"
The Yardbirds




Was I Schmoo'd by Motorola's fast static RAMs?  I don't remember.  Sometimes it's scarier remembering than not. 

Tragically, I can actually explain what this means. 

Motorola "I was SHMOO'd T-shirt
Richard Factor

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