Are you spending twice as much as you did 10 years ago? Probably not; you'd either feel as if you'd struck it rich or your creditors would be forming a posse to come after you if you were.
But your Uncle Sam has been on a spending spree. During the past decade, federal spending has doubled. In 2000, the government's budget was about $1.78 trillion. By 2010 it was up to about $3.45 trillion. It's continuing to go up; the White House estimates fiscal 2017 spending will total $4.53 trillion.
Still feel good that Congress and President Barack Obama avoided the "fiscal cliff?" In truth, with a national debt at $16.4 trillion - more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the country - we went off a cliff years ago.
Here's a New Year's question for you to think about: If your personal or household spending goes up substantially, you have a fairly good idea of what you're getting for the money, right? Maybe you got a raise at work and bought a new car. Perhaps you bought a home, eat out more, go on pricier vacations. Whatever your increase in spending, you can point to the benefits.
What about the government? Tell me, please, what that doubled spending by Uncle Sam has bought you during the past 10 years. Or, to put it another way, what about your life was stimulated? Were you bailed out? Do you know anyone who was?
Now, let's get something straight: This didn't start as a Democrat Party spending spree. Republicans under former President George W. Bush began writing big checks the economy couldn't cover. When Obama took office, the process accelerated. He and liberals in the Senate want it to continue gaining speed.
That can happen only if taxes increase and more debt is added to the ocean of red ink in which we're already drowning.
By virtually any gauge, we're allowing the government to spend more of our hard-earned dollars and put more on what amounts to our national credit card. In inflation-adjusted dollars, government spending per U.S. household was about $22,000 in 2000. By 2012 it was up to $30,015.
Since 1970, also in inflation-adjusted dollars, the median income of Americans has increased by 24.2 percent. We really are better off.
But during the same period, federal spending shot up by 287.5 percent.
Many of us are familiar with the exercises liberals (and sometimes conservatives) use to prove to us they just can't reduce spending much. We're presented with detailed line-item budgets and told to slash at will. Then, we're informed of the consequences, some of which we hadn't anticipated, of our cuts.
Certainly, it's more difficult than it might seem at first. Understand that once Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health care programs are paid for, only about 57 percent of the budget remains available for cuts.
But wait. Again, we're spending twice as much as we did 10 years ago. For what? Surely there's something in there that can be cut.
Yet the White House continues to demand new spending programs - and Congress continues to go along.
Here's the bottom line: If your income is reduced for any reason, you have to adjust. Maybe you sell your car and replace it with a clunker. You stop eating out. You check the Salvation Army and Goodwill for clothes. You contribute less to your personal retirement account.
Painful? You bet. But you do it because you have no choice.
Neither the White House nor Congress has faced up to the fact that the nation has no choice but to find some way to reduce spending. If that isn't done, we'll all suffer. Our taxes will go up. Taxes on job creators will increase, resulting in fewer jobs. The national debt will expand, meaning inflation will eat up more of our paychecks.
That's really all there is to it. Don't believe what the liberal politicians tell you. We've already gone over the "cliff."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.