If you’re like most people with an email address, by now, you have already received a message from a foreign national. In it he claims that you could make a large sum of money if you’d just help him smuggle funds out of his suppressive nation. All he needs is your bank account information and he’ll deposit the freed funds there in a few days. You’ll split the proceeds.
There are a bunch of variations to this internet scam. Whatever the specifics, they all want your financial information and in return they’ll give you a bunch of money. But we all know that this is too good to be true, don’t we?
The Best Lies Have an Element of the Truth
Recently I received a forwarded email. But this one wasn’t an email trying to relieve me of some hard earned cash. No, this email was sent to help enlighten me to a situation.
The email cited a quote from Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh during the late 1880’s. According to the email, the good professor penned a book about the fall of the Athenian Republic many years ago, outlining why the Athenian democracy was doomed to fail.
Then the author of the email highlighted some parallels to the current state of affairs in the U.S. and drew some very specific modern-day conclusions about the nation’s bleak future.
Here’s a short excerpt.
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.
The prose went on to rail on Obama’s fiscal policies and likened the current U.S. debt and entitlement predicaments to that of the Athenians. I’ll spare you the rest of the details.
Listen to the Content, Not the Words
Despite being misattributed at best and an outright fabrication at worst, I gave some thought to the content of the forwarded email. Some of what it proclaimed makes sense. In particular the statement cited above seems to ring true to a certain extent.
The U.S. has run a budget deficit in each of the last four years of at least a trillion dollars. That means that the government has spent more than $1,000,000,000,000 than it took it. The U.S. now has more than $19,000,000,000,000 in outstanding debt. That’s staggering.
How much is a trillion? If you stacked 1 trillion 1$ bills on top of each other (not end to end but stacked them like you would in your wallet) the resulting stack would be nearly 68,000 miles high. That’s almost 1/3 of the way to the moon!
Much of that deficit is in the form of untouchable entitlements. Untouchable in that they, by law, have built in spending increases. They are also untouchable in the political sense as well.
Lay it at the feet of Obama, or Bush, or congress, or whomever you will. The fact is that the government has dug a hole so deep that it’s very difficult to see a way out of it. Add to that the fact that Americans have, for most part, grown very accustomed to a cushy way of life and it appears that difficult times are ahead.
Please don’t misinterpret this as a political post. It’s not. I’m not blaming anyone person or even a single party. To me, this is simply an observation. And it’s yet another reason to prepare for the future.
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The likelihood of successfully continuing down the fiscal path that the U.S. government is currently on seems just about as likely as receiving those funds from the foreign national.
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