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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

Welcome to my Opinion Pages

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Debt ceiling


A debt ceiling is a point at which we will spend no further.  It is drawing the line at a certain amount.  When we shop for a new car or a new house we sometimes look at our income and other debts and make a decision on an amount of money beyond which we will not go.  I was just thinking about the government's debt ceiling problem.
Washington is grappling with the issue of raising the debt ceiling.  The problem is that it seems to be a problem they have no idea how to solve.  With all their education, knowledge and experience they seem to be scratching their heads as to how to deal with the debt ceiling.  Now I realize the politicians can simply print more money since they have assumed that power.  But in the end having more greenbacks in circulation simply drives down the value of those that are already there.  Then of course, they want to raise their income, that is, the income of the treasury.  That means increasing the taxes on the people who work and make a salary.
For some reason, for many in Congress, they never think that it might be they are living beyond their means.  Now I am not near as smart as they are, and I have never been elected to any government office, so my experience in that field is limited, but I find myself scratching my head over this matter as well.
I do relate to the issue and sympathize with those who are trying to figure it out.  Like most Americans, not having the experience that Congress has, I only know from experience with my own life that it is impossible to sustain spending more money than your income allows you to spend. For the individual American the credit card is our "debt ceiling" and when we begin to live on that borrowed credit we sink into a hole that is difficult to get out of. If we honestly look at what we need versus what we want, we begin to realize that it is possible to cut spending. It seems so simple, but the government can do that too.
 
I wonder how many of the people in Congress are aware of each and every program on which money is being spent.  When families in America find it necessary to work ourselves out of a spending hole, the first thing we look at is how much money we make and what we are spending it on.  We start listing out all of our expenses:  house payment, car payment, food, clothing, household expenses like utilities and maintenance, insurance and any other fixed bills that are outstanding. 
 
Then we start looking at entertainment like movies, going out to eat, vacations, pleasurable use of gasoline, purchased items that are really not needed, but simply wanted. 
 
Once we determine what we are spending our money on we then figure out which of the items we can do without.  We know that credit card companies have taken full advantage of our "instant gratification" tendencies and have promised us that we can have the full benefits of our purchases, but can pay for it later.  But sooner, or later, we have discovered that our appetites' are deceptive and only push us deeper into the hole.  Most Americans have discovered that if we spend thousands more than we make by maxing out several high-interest credit cards, we are not really rich at the end of that rocky road.  In fact, we are quite poor.
 
Interest rates eat us alive, creditors are unyielding in their attempts to collect their money.  We are so far in debt that we start trying to transfer the debt from one credit card to another with the promise of lower interest for a season with the new card.  In essence we raise our "debt ceiling" by taking on a new card. 
 
Again, I am not near as smart as the guys in Washington, but it seems like we Americans are really just a collection of families who all live in various places from Maine to California on out to Hawaii, and Texas to Alaska, and we are one giant family who has a small group of people in Washington making decisions for us.  I think it is about time we ask them to control their appetites with our resources.  They need to quit complaining about each other and quit blaming us, and attend to the task at hand.  They need to recognize that we, as a family, are spending too much money and it needs to stop.
 
If they want to continue representing us they need to get hold of themselves, stop spending more money than we collectively can afford, examine what the money is going for and eliminate those things that do not effect human beings.  Even after the enactment of the "War on Poverty" that Lyndon Johnson initiated, we were not spending near as much in the 1980's and 1990's as we are now.  We need to go on a spending diet!   


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