COMMENTARY: It’s time to stand on our own

Nick Bratcher

Pay attention to the news. No, seriously this time.

For most of our lives, our parents and teachers have been telling us to watch the news, and we have opted for the more interesting “Jersey Shore.”

Let’s get real – who doesn’t want to see Pauly D. fight with Snooki on a weekly basis?

With only 22.8 percent of young people from ages 18-29 voting in 2010 (according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), our generation likes to leave the big decisions up to our more-experienced elders.

In our lifetime, our mothers and fathers, teachers and even the gas station attendants at the local Swifty’s have always had our backs.

They’ve picked presidents that spend hundreds of billions of dollars on discretionary programs such as education and programs that we now use to gain job experience and valuable news such as WKYU here in Bowling Green.

But that’s over.

Yep, that’s right. Granny and Papaw are turning on us.

That may be an exaggeration, but take a look at the current issues: reducing spending for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Why should those issues matter to you?

According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan group of economists that monitor governmental spending, America spends about $1.4 trillion a year on those three mandatory spending programs.

With our debt reaching 92.7 percent of our gross domestic product (according to Forbes), if we took all the money the U.S. government spent, all of the products people consumed, machines and factories that businesses invested in, and goods that the U.S. exported to other countries, we would just barely have enough money to pay off the current debt.

However, with last year’s budget deficit reaching 8.7 percent, we’re likely to lose that already impossible capability soon.

Who do you think would rather push that number even higher than raise requirement ages or restructure medical care?

Suddenly, your great aunt Mable doesn’t look like the nice old lady who gave you butterscotch candy when you visited her as a little kid anymore.

So what do we do?

We download news apps on our iPhones, tell others, support politicians (regardless of party affiliation) that rise above political catering and vote so we can continue to have a nation to vote for.

Two major U.S. investment firms warned earlier this month that if the U.S. does nothing to shift its debt levels, its bond rating will be downgraded in the near future.

That will simultaneously increase U.S. debt and slow the economy, which could decrease its debt with sufficient growth — a downward spiral that bankrupt Greece, Ireland and Portugal this year.

My mom used to quote an old saying, “If you won’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The American Association of Retired Persons estimated that 69 percent of Americans age 45 and older voted in 2008, so great aunt Mable will be standing next November.

We need a stand of our own. No, seriously this time.

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.