Dear Congressperson This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Excuse the tone of this letter, but I am angry; angry at you, at your fellow congresspeople and those of the past. I am angry to the point of frustration, and when this issue began to directly affect me and my life, I became angry to the point of action. After you’ve heard what I have to say, I hope you too will be moved to action, for my sake and the sake of everyone in my generation.

Allow me to explain: You see, since I was this tall, I’ve been told of the American dream. You work hard, do well in school, treat people well, and you can become anything you want to be, do anything you want to do. And now, for me, this may not be true. You are robbing me of this opportunity to control my own destiny. My life has slipped out of my hands and landed in yours, and along with it my American dream, because we are heading toward a point of no return, a point where we will no longer be able to fix this. And therefore we must act now. So, what is this problem I am talking about? Our national debt.

This country’s national debt is astonishing. Most of you have heard the numbers: $9.1 trillion. But few of us can comprehend the size of our country’s debt. Perhaps this may help: If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, over 2,000 years ago, and your business lost one million dollars a day - $365 million a year - it would take until 2739 to lose $1 trillion. Our government has somehow managed to do nine times this in just 20 years. And this is not improving. Our national debt is now increasing at a rate of about $1 billion a day!

So how’d we get ourselves into this mess? It’s pretty simple. We collected less taxes each year than we paid out. We’ve done this almost every year of our country’s existence. Apparently every generation thought the next would somehow have more assets and be able to pay off the current generation’s debt. We have to stop this cycle of fiscal irresponsibility before it’s too late.

We’re getting close to the point economists refer to as critical mass, when our government will need to borrow more than the world’s economy can offer. In 1999, we needed to borrow only 19 percent of our funds from foreign investors. The rest came from domestic sources. But this year, 44 percent of our national debt is owed to foreign investors. This means that we are relying more and more on foreign investors in order to satisfy our insatiable consumption. So as we keep expanding, one day there won’t be enough investment to sustain the government’s obligations. This is critical mass.

So, what’s going to happen when there’s not enough money for the federal government to pay its bills? A ripple effect will occur. Buildings will remain half built, with roads unpaved. Workers, hospital staff, policemen, and government-employed doctors and nurses will no longer be paid, so they won’t be able to buy goods to sustain local economies. And these workers who aren’t getting paid won’t show up for work. Hospital patients won’t be cared for. FBI agents and police will no longer protect citizens. This ripple effect transcends our economy and will have life-altering consequences. When this happens, no one will have a shot at the American dream.

The solution is a paradox. It’s very elementary but extremely difficult to accomplish. There are only two solutions - that’s the easy part. First, take in more money through taxes. Or, second, cut back on spending. Even though the fix is conceptually easy, it’s difficult to get anyone on board with the plan. If you were told that the government will no longer pave roads, but gravel and dirt will be used instead, it would be impossible to get anyone to endorse this. Likewise, if you said, we’re going to stop funding homeless shelters or paying for healthcare, the same response would happen.

Now, imagine if you were a career politician who made a living representing voters. If you were to propose this plan, you would simply not be reelected. No congressperson wants to stand up and say, “We need to stop paving roads. We need to stop putting up buildings; we need to stop funding existing programs.” But what our Congress must realize is that these things, and making Americans momentarily happy, shouldn’t be the top priority.

Being fiscally responsible, working to provide a better world for the next generation, my generation, should be our top priority, higher than Social Security, higher than healthcare, higher than the war, and yes, higher than the individual careers of our congresspeople. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, politics and personal worries stand in the way of Congress making the right decisions. Call it selfishness, call it fiscal irresponsibility, but the fact is, our Congress is more worried about getting reelected than creating a better world for the sake of the next generation of Americans.

By now, I would hope that we’ve come to an understanding that our national debt is destroying the economy and ultimately destroying the lives of the next generation. I also hope, more importantly, that beyond recognizing this, you see the need for immediate action to either decrease our spending, increase our income, or a combination of the two. Critical mass is on its way.

The day is dangerously near when our seemingly endless supply will run dry. Let’s not wait one more generation to fix this. Now is the time to stand up for the good of my generation, because I don’t want to be the one to have to deal with your mistakes. I don’t want to be a part of the last generation of Americans.

In conclusion, I would ask the next time you and your fellow congresspeople are engaging in a vote, keep this in mind: forget about politics, forget about the status quo, forget about reelection, forget about your precious careers - and stand up for my generation.

Sincerely, A Fed-up Constituent.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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