As a teenager, I began a new lifelong routine of starting and ending each day reading from the book of Proverbs, which, of course, was written by Solomon, a very wise man. Interestingly, my parents gave me the middle name of Solomon -- not that I claim even a modicum of his wisdom.
After Solomon became the king of Israel, he gained great renown when two women came before him claiming to be the mother of the same infant. Solomon decreed that the baby should be divided and half given to each woman, at which time the real mother immediately relinquished her claim.
This made the judgment quite simple. I believe God has a sense of humor, not only because of my middle name and my affinity for Solomonic proverbs, but because I, too, gained great renown by dividing babies. In my case, it was complexly joined craniopagus twins.
One of the verses that seems pertinent to America today is Proverbs 22:7, which says, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Most of us grew up hearing that debt is a bad thing. The advent and wide dissemination of credit cards diminished such teachings, and those in charge of our nation's finances over the past few decades seem to revel in debt.
As a nation, we currently are carrying a national debt of $17.5 trillion. If we repaid it at a rate of $10 million per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, it would take 4,700 years to repay. The only reason that we can sustain such a level of debt is our status as the international reserve currency for the world.
This is a position usually reserved for the most reliable and strongest economic nation, and this status allows us to print money. If Greece could print money, it would not be bankrupt, although it probably would continue to drive up its debt.
Additionally, we have unfunded liabilities of at least $100 trillion.
Why am I concerned about this? I have been talking about this issue since long before Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent threat to abandon the U.S. dollar as Russia's reserve currency. Unless he could attract many other nations to do the same, he likely would inflict more short-term damage on his own country than on the United States.
Nevertheless, the very mention of such an action should send shivers down our spine. He recognizes our vulnerable position, which is exacerbated by our insistence on incurring unsustainable levels of debt. I have no doubt that at a strategic moment, he will exploit our weakness.