Today’s column will hopefully tie up some loose ends about China which have been dangling in my mind. I’m almost positive everything can be covered, but probably should disclose that loose ends may in my case be a permanent condition.
One thing I’ve never understood is why the people of China use chopsticks instead of forks. When my wife and I first married we ate with chopsticks a few times, although I don’t remember what prompted us to do so. They worked okay for rice and bite-sized pieces of chicken, but not so well for creamed potatoes, pork chops, or banana pudding. Perhaps chopsticks are used in your country to teach patience?
Are chopsticks still made of wood or has plastic replaced them? Wood is more appealing than something made from petroleum, but it seems a lot of whittling and sanding would be needed to get rid of splinters. Chopsticks, however, are not the main reason for writing you today.
I may get in trouble for sharing this but feel obliged to tell you something. Your government might want to cut back on loaning our government so much money. It’s nice of you to help, but I don’t see how we can ever pay it back, especially when interest rates inevitably cycle upward.
Please understand my concern has nothing to do with our recent presidential election. Both of our major political parties, Democrats and Republicans, have long histories of spending money we don’t have. Occasionally there are prominent politicians who talk about reducing deficit spending, but no one has a credible plan for actually doing that. Spending borrowed money is much easier than making unpopular decisions. It’s a great way to get elected and stay in office for decades.
Billy Powell, a newspaper columnist I enjoy reading, recently published a feature about America’s national debt. He explained it in a manner that got my attention. Billy said if the federal debt was divided among every man, woman, and child in America then each of us would owe about $80,000. I’ve had some restless nights since reading that column, wondering how to break such terrible news to our four grandchildren.
I ran a small bank in a rural town for most of my adult life. We tried to help everyone, but there were times it wasn’t possible. When a person owes more than they can pay back another loan doesn’t solve the problem. It only postpones the urgency of the situation and makes the problem bigger.
That’s not just my personal opinion. I tested the premise of repayment necessity several times and can verify it won’t work. Our nation, though, is continually adding to a mountain of debt that’s already steep to climb.
Both political parties are adept at kicking the can down the road. America is borrowing money today that later generations will be paying back. None of us as individuals could in good conscience borrow money for our own use and ask our grandchildren to repay it. Our country, however, has grown comfortable doing that very thing.
Many years ago, when I first heard that China was America’s biggest creditor, I thought someone was mistaken. It seems that America would be a lender instead of a borrower. And we’re not borrowing just for major purchases like space exploration or to buy land for national parks. We’re relying on borrowed funds to keep the lights on. We have what an old country song describes as, “too much month at the end of the money.”
Hopefully, you’re not in shock from reading this. Feel free to pass it on to whoever is in charge of making international loans. Maybe China could insist that America come up with a repayment plan. It’s a long shot but perhaps worth a try.
An idea I’ve been mulling over is to put the key leaders from both parties, Democrat and Republican, in a big windowless room. We’d seat them around a long table in straight chairs that have no cushions. The doors would be locked and no one allowed to leave until they reached a reasonable bipartisan solution to stop living beyond our means.
They’ll need some food of course. Since China has a vested interest in this matter, I hope that your country will consider providing the meal. Let’s keep it simple and serve nothing but egg drop soup. Don’t worry about the utensils. I’ll supply the chopsticks.