Car loans, student loans, mortgage payments, credit card debt, these are all things almost every American household juggles each month to pay. Very few of us live without some form of indebtedness, and we most likely all know at least a few people who have had to declare bankruptcy at some time.
If you’re one of the people struggling to meet your own debts, this blog post is going to stress you even more. You see, you don’t just owe your personal debts. Each one of us shares some of the responsibility for public debt as well. As of May 19, 2015, the federal debt per person is more than $56,000. (So if you are a family of four, multiply that by four.)
However, public debt isn’t just Federal. Residents of San Antonio each owe more than $7,100 because the city is more than $9 billion in debt. Without exact resident numbers and debt for Bexar County, all that I can say is the County budget included debt service in 2014-2015 of $125.8 Million. That’s what it takes to keep Bexar County current on what it owes, not to pay it off.
The more debt a country, county or city holds, the less money it's able to put away in savings or to reinvest in itself. We have been asked time after time to “invest” in our city, county or school district by passing bonds, but each bond puts us more in debt. The repayment of those debts and interest rates on them make it even more difficult to put money aside for emergencies which results in more need to borrow. It’s a vicious circle.
Worse than the circular reasoning is the idea that we can get what we want now and pass on the debt to the next generation. Sometimes families have to say, no; we cannot afford that right now. Additionally, many of these emergency and building bonds aren’t really emergencies. They come about because officials have made poor judgements in the past and because they have not made plans to save for obvious future needs. There’s an old saying that applies - poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
It is time for voters to learn to say no too. It is time for voters who are asked to pass this city bond or that school district bond because “it’s for the children” to realize that they are putting chains of indebtedness on those same children. It is also time to pay better attention to who we choose to represent us at every level of government. Let’s try to get some who know how to plan for the future instead of continuing to increase the debt.