To my knowledge, there are few if any Greeks within burrowing distance of my family tree, and while I nodded politely at the few good jokes that came out of Greece's ongoing financial crises and ignored the rest, I couldn't bring myself to raise the sort of unholy hell some believe is necessary to political discourse in this day and age: for all I can tell, we're done for. If the entire fricking world is rapidly descending into the toilet, and you can't tell me it isn't, it's sort of pointless to claim that the Ty-D-Bol Man can somehow save it.

Besides, I have one thing in common with the Greeks: I've been there.

Michael D. Tanner wrote in the New York Post this past weekend:

[J]ust like Greece, the United States government has been living beyond its means, running up an enormous debt that will eventually need to be repaid.

True, our budget deficit this year will be lower than it has been, just $486 billion compared to $1.4 trillion as recently as 2009. But this is just a temporary respite. Within the next couple of years the deficit will start to rise again. By 2025, we will again face trillion-dollar shortfalls.

And even a $486 billion deficit adds to our ever growing debt. Our national debt currently approaches $18.2 trillion, roughly 101% of GDP. That's right. We owe more than the value of all the goods and services produced in this country every year. It is as if your credit-card bills exceeded your entire pay check.

By this standard, I was in the hole by 145 percent. And that was barely the half of it:

If one includes future unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, our real debt exceeds $90 trillion. That's more than five times our GDP.

And I still owed $65,000 on the palatial estate at Surlywood. I could have voted for austerity, or I could have waited for austerity to be visited upon me from without; the results would have been either bad or worse.

So in the spring of 2010, I bowed to the inevitable. More than one-third of what I earned would be diverted to deficit reduction. I grat my teeth and vowed to ride it out.

That very month, the cousin probably wasn't the mother of all hailstorms pounded away at the roof of my house. Insurance covered about 80 percent of that, but it was still two thousand dollars I didn't have that I somehow had to come up with.

Time wore on. Inflation took its toll. Insurance on the house doubled, then tripled. Still, I rode it out.

Fifty-five thousand dollars later, it was over. Sort of. A few bits of paperwork here and there had to be dealt with. But that particular monkey was finally off my back, and the mortgage, while it's still there, is now my one and only debt: the car was paid off before any of this started.

Now one could argue that I had no sense borrowing $75,000 to buy a house back in 2003, especially since I was already about twenty grand in the hole. But apartment life had become even more intolerable than usual, and hey, the bank, by their standards, was willing to lend me ninety grand. To me, this represented a fair amount of restraint. However, expenses rose far faster than did income, and in 2006 I had to replace my long-since-paid-for car, no thanks to a member of the family Cervidae, which I could just barely afford, and woe betide me if the darn thing ever needed service.

Needless to say, it needed service. And of course, so did everything else. As Herb Stein once pointed out, things that can't go on forever won't. So I came to my day of reckoning, fought the good fight to the best of my ability, and emerged a bruised and broken, but not broke, survivor.

The Greeks, not at all unexpectedly, opted to kick this particular can a little farther down the road, in the manner of, oh, every other government on earth, with the exception of Iceland. I don't really feel qualified to preach at anyone these days. On the other hand, it's a damn shame that I'm returning to a positive net worth at precisely the time when everything's getting ready to be worth nothing.

The Vent

  7 July 2015

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 Copyright © 2015 by Charles G. Hill