Since taking office, the Republicans have spoken at length about the national debt, proclaiming it the death knell for the United States. Quietly in the background, however, a much larger and more severe debt crisis has been looming: the nation’s debt itself. We’re not talking about just the cost of government, but the combination of both public and private debt. In 2009, this total debt reached $48 trillion, 3.59 times the total GDP of the nation. That means if every dollar generated by the United States went into paying off that debt, it would be paid off in early 2016.
With all the raving about the public debt, the private debt looms far greater. Unlike public debt, private debt does not have the full faith and credit of the United States to back it up. The U.S. can print dollars to pay off its debt, which causes inflation, but still pays off that debt. That is the worst case scenario: rapid inflation. Private debt, however, can make prisoners of us all. Debt can leave you homeless and without any hope of digging your way out of it. Already some are pushing to reinstate debtors prisons to strip the rights away from all people.