Watching Charlie Sheen’s outbursts is a great entertainment for Americans. Here is a guy who has it all, fame, fortune, a great career and it is all crashing in on him because of addiction.
We all know that Charlie Sheen is one 911 call from the morgue. He has made the ambulance trip before, and he doesn’t see it coming. Denial is a classic symptom of drug addiction.
Here is Charlie in his own words responding to a question about his drug and alcohol problems, “I’m different. I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.”
Sheen is not dealing with reality and the concern of others around him doesn’t seem to register, "I'm dealing with fools and trolls. I'm dealing with soft targets, and it's just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee."
Addiction does strange things to the mind. The same is true of America’s addiction to debt.
Americans have been warned many times about excessive debt. The latest warning in Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders is a prime example. Here is what Buffett concludes: “But leverage is addictive. Once having profited from its wonders, very few people retreat to more conservative practices. And as we all learned in third grade – and some relearned in 2008 – any series of positive numbers, however impressive the numbers may be, evaporates when multiplied by a single zero. History tells us that leverage all too often produces zeroes, even when it is employed by very smart people.”
Leverage has sent America to the emergency room already. We called it the financial crisis of 2008. But now in 2011, the problems of debt have faded in the minds of many. Just as the problems caused by addiction don’t register in the mind of Charlie Sheen. But the danger hasn’t passed.
We believe the danger has increased. Tarp and the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have socialized what were once private debts. Billions in private debts and risk were transferred from Wall Street to the taxpayers under the guise of a policy called “too big to fail.”
Now, with the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs, America is merrily printing money to service the trillions in debt accumulated by decades of reckless and unprecedented spending by our elected leaders, both Republican and Democrat.
The debt crisis doesn’t seem to register with Barack Obama and he is not living in reality. Obama’s budget is summed up as big, bigger, and biggest. As CNS News reported: "If the federal budget released by President Barack Obama today is implemented, it will double the national debt over the next 10 years. The current national debt is $13.56 trillion (end of FY 2010). By the end of 2021, that debt would rise to $26.3 trillion under the White House budget."
Clearly Obama is addicted to debt the same way Charlie Sheen is addicted to drugs.
But the question is, do Republican leaders have the same addiction to debt as Obama? Indications are clear; they don’t seem to understand the crisis either. Now Boehner is pushing Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, one last attempt to keep the party going. He told the Wall Street Journal this week: "I think raising the debt limit is the responsible thing to do for our country, the responsible thing for our economy…If we were to fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin."
This is a classic example of the failed thinking that more debt can solve a debt problem. He should wake-up to reality and listen to the wisdom of Buffett: “History tells us that leverage all too often produces zeroes, even when it is employed by very smart people.”
The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Floyd is also president of the Western Center for Journalism.