I believe this country's national debt is profoundly immoral. But the debt is also profoundly dangerous.
To explain that, let me paint a picture for you.
Patty and I love to watch the Fourth of July festivities from Washington on TV. But this year, as we listened to the glorious patriotic music and saw the marching bands and bombs bursting in air, my mind kept wandering to an imaginary, but very disturbing scene. There was the President, staring grimly and speaking into the camera.
"My fellow Americans," he said, "as most of you know by now, President Hu of China announced that the Chinese government is selling U.S. treasuries. There was no warning. Markets around the world have tumbled. The DOW dropped 50 percent before the exchanges were closed. Banks across the country have frozen assets."
Then, in my dream, the President continued: "The Fed will continue to put money in the market, but this is costly, the value of the dollar being half of what it was 48 hours ago.
"There are reports of rioting and looting across the country. But this is no time for such behavior. This crisis will be settled; central bank executives are meeting in Brussels even as I speak.
"I have alerted the Armed Services and issued a provisional order of martial law. This is not without precedent. President Lincoln took similar steps during the Civil War. I want to assure the American people that your safety and the just order of our society is my first priority."
The President continued, "We must show the world that Americans are law-abiding, peace-loving citizens. So if you see military personnel in your area, obey them. The areas that have given us particular difficulty today have been largely secured. Fires that were wantonly set in Newark are being brought under control.
"The banks will remain closed until further notice, as will the stock markets. I will be issuing a set of executive orders so that the ground rules for government during this great crisis will be clear to all citizens. This will be published online.
"And I've talked to the leaders of Congress. They agree that they will stand in recess, but will keep in close liaison with me, and my staff."
Phew! No wonder I was depressed. A ridiculous dream? Sadly, I don't think so. I shared it with a very close friend, who spent most of his career successfully managing huge sums of money-he knows the markets, and he thought such a scenario was quite plausible. He said it could happen at any moment. The Chinese certainly wouldn't give us notice.
So what do we do?
Well, the growing number of Americans who recognize that incurring this kind of debt can only lead to our demise as a free nation must speak out. Write letters to the editor, call your congressmen and senators, vote, demand to know where the candidates stand on reducing the deficit and the national debt.
I have been saying for months that the national spending spree is immoral, a violation of every principle in the Christian work ethic-deferred gratification, not going into debt, paying your bills on time, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.
I say it's time to tell our leaders, "Enough!"
And to the Church and to all Americans, I say: Wake up!