Kesley Colbert

We may need a lot of empty bottles

Someone told me the United States is 32 trillion dollars in debt. That doesn’t hardly seem possible. A lot of government people would have to be working day and night, with both hands, to spend that much money!

And to be honest, I don’t really know how much 32 trillion is. If you bundle it up in 100 dollar bills would it fill up a basketball gym or a football stadium or the Grand Canyon? If you laid them end on end would they stretch around the world at the equator or reach to the moon and back?

I read on the internet if you stacked that many 100 dollars bills on top of each other they would extend 631 miles into the air. But that is the internet….

My “reference” on this kind of stuff is skewed a bit by my up-bringing. Back home we picked up empty soft drink bottles and sold them back to Pat Houston at his grocery store for two cents a bottle. You see the money scale I learned to think on….

I’d find four “empties” and trade them for a five cent pack of baseball cards and three pieces of bubble gum. If Patti, Mr. Pat’s beautiful daughter, was working she’d sometimes let me have two packs of cards and I could “bring in a bottle tomorrow” to cover the extra two cents.

Some nights I couldn’t sleep worrying about my debt! I don’t think me and the government exactly have the same concept about money….

I bet you those federal officials in charge of spending would have a little different opinion if they had squinted into the sun-reflecting-water all day long down at the Twin Pools for 50 cents an hour; or hauled hay from can to can’t for a penny a bale; or pulled on that green chain at the Star Lumber Company for 95 cents an hour until the sweat stung their eyes, their backs couldn’t straighten up and that green bark had soaked through their chambray shirt and permanently stained their chest.

Apparently, in our infinite wisdom and cultural foresight today, “a penny wise and a pound foolish” has become way more than an outdated idiom in governmental circles. And “a penny saved is a penny earned” has joined the ranks of the Dodo birds.  

You don’t accidently get 32 trillion dollars “behind” without some kind of accelerated spending plan!

And please understand, this is not an indictment of the present administration, the current sitting congress, some secret senate subcommittee on finance, or whoever is currently in control of the purse strings. Good golly, there is no one person, group, political party or innocent bystander that is smart enough by themselves to get us 32 trillion dollars in the red!

It has taken a concerted effort, by about everybody involved, over a number of years for us to reach this height…or maybe depth is a better word.

It would be interesting to ask a long standing member of the Senate or the House of Representatives why they didn’t call somebody when they realized we were spending a whole lot more money than we were taking in. When I got behind on my loan payment down at the bank, I guarantee you I got called early….and often!

It seems to me everybody on earth has some well-defined, thought-out restrictions—checks and balances—on their borrowing ability….except the United States government.

And you see where that has gotten us!

And listen, I’m not mad or upset here. I’m just thinking out loud. I’m certainly not calling for a rebellion. Goodness gracious, there could be some humor here….if we were only say, 32 billion in debt.

Don’t we have a congressional oversight committee? It would be interesting to know what they’ve been doing for the last 30 years. I dare say it would not involve much over-sighting!

Who in the world do we owe this money to? Who has that much money to loan out? Does anyone owe us money? Maybe we could call in a few notes and start paying this debt down….

It seems, as is most always the case with big government, there are more questions than answers. And finding an elected official who will actually tighten their belt and call a halt to this insanity seems to be scarcer than hen’s teeth. 

And you don’t want to even contemplate what we are paying each day in interest on 32 trillion….

The ole Cowboy Philosopher, Will Rogers, offered the perfect solution 100 years ago when he wrote, “Congress ought to pass a law that says they can’t pass a new law until they have paid for the last one.”

Do you reckon that is too practical to be considered….



Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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