(Editor's note: Our colleagues at The Sentinel in Fairmont last week published this particularly pertinent parable for our times. We just had to share it.)
If you want to know what kind of terrible financial shape the United States is in, consider it in terms of one individual.
"Sam" makes $23,000 per year but spends $36,000. Because he has a good credit rating - but not as good as it used to be - he is able to convince others to keep loaning him the money, for now. But a lot of the borrowing he does actually goes to pay the interest on previous borrowing.
In addition to his yearly financial woes, Sam has piled up lots of debt. He owes more than $156,000, but that is just the beginning of his problems.
Sam also has made all kinds of promises to all of the elderly people in his life. He has told his parents, his aunts and uncles, his grandparents, etc., that he is going to make sure they have money to live on as well as medical care in their retirements. Sam's promise is expected to cost him at least $600,000. Probably more.
There's one other thing we should note. Sam has no job. He doesn't really "make" $23,000 per year. Hardly an ethical fellow, he simply takes it from other people.
Anyone with a brain can see that Sam's financial position is untenable. He is bankrupt. Yes, he could steal more, but the people around him are not going to put up with that for very long. Sam can't win.
And neither can the United States. If you take the numbers provided here and add a lot of zeroes ... a lot of them ... you have the exact financial condition of the nation.
As Americans begin to turn their attention to the fall's election, we hope they will demand that candidates running for office explain how they are going to improve "Sam's" situation. The clear answer is they need to spend less and promise less.