Tags: steyn | debt | pension | states | deficit | economy | us

Author Mark Steyn: US Debt Much Greater Than Most Realize

By Henry J. Reske   |   Tuesday, 02 Oct 2012 09:24 AM

The United States’ debt is ten times greater than federal figures reveal and exceeds any amount owed in the “history of the planet,” author and critic Mark Steyn said in an interview with National Review Magazine.

Steyn is the author of two recent books dealing with the fate of America, “America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It” and “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.” In the interview he agreed with the statement that the United States is No. 1 in the world when it comes to debt.

“The official federal debt is $16 trillion dollars,” he said. “By the time you add up the state debt, local debt, the liabilities of the entitlements – in other words, if you had to do the same kind of accounting that the businesses are required to do in the United States, you’re looking at a real figure of about 10 times that.

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“Nobody has ever owed that much to anyone in the history of the planet and that’s why I disagree a bit when people start making comparisons with Greece or Portugal or Iceland or wherever because it isn’t that good because those countries, in the end, are just talking about a few rinky dink billions. I mean, Germany can bail out Greece. Germany can’t bail out the United States. Nobody can bail out the United States.”

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Steyn said the size of America’s debt has led to the normalization of the word trillion, heretofore a word reserved for discussions of interstellar travel.

“That was a word that until federal budgeting came along, you only ever heard the word ‘trillion,’ it was only used by astronomers for light-years from Earth to planet Zongo,” he said. “And when you normalize the world ‘trillion’ in bookkeeping, you are very seriously sick and you need to realize that and you need to realize it’s a very advanced case.”

Steyn said his first book, "America Alone," argued that Europe was mired in “suicidal polices.” Ironically, he noted that “basically, the United States decided to take the awful warning of 'America Alone' and make it federal government policy.”

He said that unlike Europe, which used the United States as a cushion during its decline, there is no cushion waiting in the wings should the United States decide to “be a greater Belgium or a greater Sweden.”

Steyn, who is not an American citizen, also expressed perplexed amusement over the controversy concerning Arizona’s law that required proof of citizenship if stopped by the police when he must have his green card with him at all times. He even recounted a moment when the Secretary of Defense asked to see his card.

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“I had lunch with Don Rumsfeld in the Mayflower Hotel a couple of years ago and I sat down and he goes, ‘Do you have a green card?’ And I go, ‘Yes.’ And he goes, ‘Let me see it.’ And I’m thinking, wow, this country’s crazy.

“To have lunch with the defense secretary, you’ve got to have proof. And I produced my green card and it turned out he just wanted to see what it looked like because he’d sponsored someone for U.S. immigration in 1952 and he’d heard they changed the design since then.”

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