Guest opinion: Mounting national debt is escalating America’s fall



Russ Fagg



When running for the U.S. Senate in 2018, the number-one issue I discussed was the massive and unsustainable national debt, which is now over $29 trillion, or $229,706 per taxpayer. All the issues important to Americans, from education, to social security, to national defense and global warming, can only be addressed if we have resources to address them. If we go insolvent as a nation, which will lead to poverty, unrest, and civil strife, these issues go by the wayside as we just try to survive.


While I am an optimist, and believe in the resourcefulness of Americans, the true numbers are disheartening. Here’s one 2022 budget proposal: $6.011 trillion. With 2022 revenue of $4.174 trillion, that leaves a shortfall of nearly $2 trillion in one year. (See, 2022 federal budget, for reference.) To put this in perspective, we hit $1 trillion of total debt in 1981, 205 years into our nation’s history, and have increased the debt by a factor of 29x in just 41 years. Yet, few at the national level are talking about our national debt, including from both political parties.

So, what will happen to the U.S. — the greatest country that has ever been — as we continue on this path? Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, studies history in his book “The Changing World Order, Why Nations Succeed and Fail,” including the Dutch Empire, the British Empire, and the Chinese Empires, and gives us his answer. Odds are the United States as we know it ends in a civil war or a revolution.

Dalio makes a persuasive case that every great country has six stages: (1) A country’s birth, including new leadership; (2) Government built and refined; (3) Peace and prosperity; (4) Great excess in spending and debt, and widening of wealth and political gaps; (5) very bad financial conditions and intense conflict; and (6) civil war/revolution. Dalio believes the U.S. is in stage five. The bitter divisions we are seeing among fellow Americans, excessive debt, and widening wealth gaps support his conclusion.


Another expert on human history, Peter Turchin, has looked at the last 10,000 years of history, including 414 societies, and similarly concludes a bloated elite class, declining living standards, and “a government that can’t cover its financial positions” will lead to ‘60s-like havoc at best, and civil war at worst, probably in the next decade.


One sliver of promise, and one eternal truth, gives me hope. A petition proposing a Convention of States (COS), led by state Sen. Tom McGillvray in Montana, authorizes state legislatures to call a convention to propose needed amendments to our Constitution. So far, 27 states have called for a convention to address a balanced budget amendment. At least 34 states have to pass the call to have a convention. Our founding fathers gave us Article V in the Constitution so states can address issues our Congress, senators and presidents don’t have the courage to address.

The eternal truth is, we know how it ends. And it ends well for those who love Jesus. Jesus comes back, judges the living and the dead, rules for eternity in peace and the Earth is restored. Great comfort is found in this outcome. If you don’t know who Jesus is, I’d encourage you to check him out.