It's interesting that during the standoff over the federal government "shutdown," liberals never mentioned the people who really have a gigantic gun pointed at our heads. That's us, the taxpayers who are dealing with the toxic fallout from a $17 trillion national debt.
It's also our grandchildren, who at some point will have to pay off loans expected to balloon to $23 trillion within a few years. Notice I did not say "children." The debt is so big there's no way they will be able to pay it off.
You may remember that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to discuss anything but "clean" spending and debt ceiling bills. By that they meant no attempts to curb spending could be included.
Conservatives who wanted curbs on Obamacare abuses and on government spending were told by Reid that he and the White House would not negotiate "with a gun to our head." The "gun" was the possibility of a government shutdown, which eventually occurred.
Obama, who has a real talent for making the public believe bullies are victims, managed during the half-month shutdown to convince tons of Americans that conservative lawmakers are the bad guys and gals. He liked Reid's "gun to your head" comment so much he had White House aides begin using it.
Stop listening to Obama, Reid and company for a moment and think about the gun pointed at your head.
On a strictly per-person basis, the national debt amounts to about $55,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. That's bad enough - but many of our neighbors won't be helping pay off the debt. They don't pay federal income taxes.
Around 46 percent of the population doesn't pay income taxes. Some actually get money back from the Internal Revenue Service.
But some of those folks are retirees who already have done their share, it has been pointed out. Others don't pay because they file returns and learn legitimate deductions have reduced their liabilities to zero.
Still, the bottom line is that the $17 trillion - soon to be $23 trillion, remember - will have to be paid back by about 54 percent of Americans. By that gauge, the per-person liability for $17 trillion is a neat $100,000 - or $400,000 for a family of four.
Liberal economists like to tell the rest of us we just don't understand. The national debt really shouldn't be thought of as a personal responsibility, they claim.
Hogwash. The ramifications of government borrowing are complex, but are detrimental to each of us in very real ways. Other people, companies, organizations and even foreign governments are owed a very real $17 trillion. Eventually, after enjoying interest payments for a few decades, they'll want their money back.
During the just-ended year alone, the government paid $415 billion in interest alone on the debt. That's real money - our money - at the rate of about $5,400 for a family of four. Again, remember not everyone pays taxes to support those interest costs.
That $415 billion bought Americans nothing - no government services, no new jobs, nothing except for breathing room to figure out how we're going to live within our means.
And we haven't started doing that. Obama and Reid say that would be negotiating with a gun to their heads.
What about other costs of spending too freely?
Well, every time the Federal Reserve does something to hold down interest rates, it in effect prints new money. The resulting inflation drives up the costs of everything we buy. Eventually, even the Fed won't be able to hold the line on world interest rates, and it'll cost more to borrow money. And by the way, that also will mean the $415 billion national debt interest we paid this year will seem like a fond memory.
Now, here's the thing: After conservative lawmakers bowed to Obama's and Reid's demands, the two no longer could talk about any gun to their heads. But, to my knowledge, they're still not talking about spending discipline.
Meanwhile, the gun stays pointed at our heads.
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