Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

On the National Debt: A Voice from Future Generations

Nathan Thompson


July 29, 2011
by Nathan Thompson

In the midst of all the economic and political woes that face the United States, it is rather easy to become discouraged, angry, and cynical. Seemingly every morning I wake up to newspaper headlines that amplify the infighting, blaming, and discord so fully present on Capitol Hill these days. Senator Reid calls Representative Cantor childish! Speaker Boehner walks out on debt talks! Democrats refuse to cut spending! Republicans won’t raise taxes! So, I ask, where is there hope?

As part of a month-long internship with the Center for Public Justice, I studied the current economic situation regarding the national debt and how biblical principles might apply to solving the crisis at hand. Over that time, my knowledge of the economy, the country’s debt, and how Congress is handling it increased exponentially, as did my discouragement in where the U.S. is headed. I realized that I was frustrated with lawmakers for not putting something together, frustrated that there was no clear solution, and frustrated at the prospects I face in adulthood if immediate and serious action isn’t taken. I’ve wondered what the future holds for me, because it certainly doesn’t look too bright from where I’m standing.

But, what I also must remember is that God, not the United States of America, is in control. And if I believe that, then I can live with hope. I can live in the confidence of Christ’s victory over death even when I doubt those governing my country. This does not mean that my questions go away or that all is well in the Land of the Free, but it does mean that I can live without fear, knowing that victory is ultimately His, and therefore mine.

As a high school student, I am aware that what I think matters far less to politicians than the opinions of the voting-en-masse elderly, which puts me and my fellow youngsters at a serious disadvantage. For all the talk of prosperity for future generations, politicians don’t stay in office by restructuring the favorite programs of their voters (largely older citizens), namely Social Security or Medicare, and the lack of reform in these programs does little to benefit us “future generations.” Knowing that my influence is less than substantial, what can I do to make a difference? What can I request of my government and fellow citizens?

What I ask is this: that legislators seek to govern well before they seek reelection, that they will speak what we need to hear, not what we want to hear; that the elderly and soon to be retirees recognize that, although they have paid into entitlement funds, they have paid far less than what they take out, and that I will be picking up the tab; that those citizens not as close to retirement continue to work hard, exhibit financial restraint, and not expect all the help they have seen those before them receive.

And what of my generation? I know it is easy to ask more of others, but I would expect no less from myself. I recognize that future life may be more difficult, but I am willing to embrace the consequences of previous choices as my part in taking shared responsibility over the national debt. This may include paying higher taxes, working past the current retirement age, not expecting entitlements as if they are something I have an unalienable right to, or scaling back on materialism-driven credit card debt. I recognize that the solution will be far more complex than the words of an 18-year-old’s brief article; I only ask that in the fight for fiscal solvency, we as a nation, and as smaller communities, do what is right and not what is easy; that we run towards reality and not away from it; and above all, that we rest our hope not in money, government, or a country, but in the One who walks before us, strengthens us, and gives us peace.

—Nathan Thompson is an intern at the Center for Public Justice and a senior at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.


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Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion. Articles, with attribution, may be republished according to our publishing guidelines.”