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People learn about actions and their consequences when they are 5 years old.

In retrospect, these lessons are easy.

But apparently they are very hard to apply and understand sometimes, as in Washington.

The national debt is one of those lessons. The action is record-breaking government budgets; the consequences are felt in the checkbooks of many Americans and the economy.

According to the Institute for Truth in Accounting, an organization committed to bring financial truths to the public, the official national debt of this country is close to $10 trillion dollars. While this number is startling in magnitude, it pales in comparison to the unofficial number listed on the organization’s Web site — nearly $57 trillion — that accounts for the money not yet on the books.

But, for our sanity’s sake, it makes sense to focus only at the official numbers.

Looking at the official debt, I figured out my share to be over $30,000. Just like yours. This is how much every American would owe if we divided the debt evenly. These figures are quite staggering.

It is clear; the government’s spending is out of control.

Case in point: President Bush introduced a $3.1 trillion dollar budget in which military spending increased and health benefits for retired people decreased. I have a hard time coming to terms with this. In a nation that has been vying to get out of Iraq for the past several years, increased military spending is not a good sign.

As for trimming health benefits, I seriously question the validity of this action.

Today, many elderly people need medical care for a myriad of reasons; common ones are for a bone operation or cancer. I can guarantee two things: The first is that the cost of those procedures will not be plummeting anytime soon. The second is that trimmed health benefits will only burden the bank accounts of those in need of service.

In a time where the economy is a concern, wild government spending is not the answer. It might be a short-term fix, but in the long term it can hurt us more than people realize.

If the government continues the spending habits they are currently invested in, we will be spending just as much money on interest as on domestic programs. This money could be pumped into programs geared to jumpstart the economy and would be put towards paying off interest.

We need to think more long term when discussing our fiscal policies.

This could quite easily be that tiny bump in the road that brings this country to its breaking point. It goes unnoticed far too often.

We college students will pay for the uncontrollable spending habits of this government. Each generation must pay for the irresponsibility of the previous one. We will always have this gaping hole in our pocket if something is not done.

The easiest way to curb this involves cutting pork barrel spending and allocating an amount used to only pay off the debt.

If we cannot control this, it will become a serious problem in the near future.

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