Most of us fail to grasp the enormity of trillions of dollars, let alone billions, so let's just throw the numbers out the window and for the sake of argument concede we'll never pay back what we as a nation owe in our lifetimes or those of future generations.
Instead, let's focus on ending this insanity and establishing our priorities. For the most part, these are tough decisions our elected leaders do not have the guts to enact.
National Security. We are a bankrupt superpower being drained with diminishing resources in money and manpower. The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the same people who harbored and trained terrorists who hijacked our planes on Sept. 11, 2001. Why field a standing army of 150,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when we fight the same terrorists in Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and Indonesia with special operation forces, the CIA and drones?
Foreign Aid. Cut it to humanitarian purposes only.
Space Exploration. Put it on hold and redirect the brain trust to national defense measures such as developing missile defenses, IED detection devices and improved satellite surveillance technology.
Energy and Climate. Reduce and eliminate dependence on foreign fossil fuels by tapping into natural gas as a bridge to wind, solar, nuclear and electrical power as well as building a new electrical grid infrastructure. Tax credits to those who cooperate; tax penalties to those who don't.
Health Care. Extend Medicare to all U.S. citizens. Subsidize private insurers to run the programs administered by the government comparable to the way in which Medicare Part D is now handled for drug coverage but with the stipulation purchasing of drugs is based on competitive bidding. Tort reform and capping malpractice awards must be imposed.
Certainly, some domestic programs will cost more in the short term but pay dividends in savings in the larger view. Yes, Virginia, there will be tough decisions to ration care as we saw last night on "Sixty Minutes." Get over it.
Congressional earmarks would be abolished and federal appropriations for local districts must prove a positive cost-benefit ratio. One good policy from the Nixon administration should be restored -- checks written directly to cities, counties and states to be spent on projects they deem appropriate.
Finally, Congress must pass a law with teeth that forces a federal balanced budget. Yes, Nancy, the time has come.
The way it works now, Congress's priority is getting reelected than living within its means. The Republicans say no to everything except national security. The Democrats can't decide if everything they want is worth it.
The way I see it, watching our economy going to hell is akin to watching the Hindenburg crash. "Oh, the inhumanity of it all."