It’s the Economy Stupid

From the March 1998 Trumpet Print Edition

Character does matter! (See this month’s Trumpet feature beginning on page 2.) But for a moment, let’s suppose that President Clinton’s campaign slogan is true: “It’s the economy stupid!”

In recent months, The Trumpet has exposed what should be obvious to all Americans: The U.S. debt is out of control. It’s over 5.5 trillion dollars! Our economic Titanic will only sail a bit longer before striking an iceberg. But why should we be concerned about our astronomical debt when it does not directly affect us?

What about us? What about our individual financial ship? Are we sailing in safe waters, or like the Titanic, sailing through great oceanic ice fields, dodging one iceberg after another? Statistics should set off alarm bells for each of us. Consumer debt, which includes credit card charges and automobile loans (but not home mortgages), has escalated to 1.4 trillion dollars! That’s one-fourth of our nation’s debt!

As a people, our ability to consume is unrivaled by other nations. Americans make up only five percent of world population, but use one-third of the world’s resources. Since the mid-1950s, the amount of goods and services we consume has doubled.

The increased popularity of credit cards has contributed to the inability of many American’s to control spending habits. Americans possess over one billion credit cards. Only one-third of card-users pay off their balances in full. The rest opt for monthly piecemeal payments at crippling interest rates. It’s no wonder more than a million Americans declare bankruptcy each year.

If it is the economy, and most Americans give the economy an A+ approval rating, we must be stupid.