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New Decade

Escalating national debt reaching crisis level

As we Americans celebrate the beginning of a new decade, we continue to allow a serious challenge to escalate to crisis proportions. It is the national debt — $23.2 trillion as 2020 began.

Thoughtful Americans understand the perils of a big national debt. It can increase inflation. It diverts about 7% of annual spending to interest payments (roughly $280 billion a year). It is an obligation that has to be paid off at some point.

For many years, economists and realistic politicians have warned us we simply must stop using deficit spending to fulfill our every wish as a nation. Yet not only do we continue to do that, we have stepped up the pace.

Just five years ago, the national debt was only about $17.8 trillion. By the end of this calendar year, we will have added at least $6.5 trillion to that.

The debt today amounts to more than $70,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. If you are a homeowner, chances are your family’s share of the debt is higher than the value of your residence — probably a lot more.

Of course, not all of us share equally in funding the federal budget and thus, in liability for the debt. It is nearly $188,000 for every taxpayer.

We have resolved many times in the past to deal with the debt. This new year would be a good time to stop breaking such resolutions — before the consequences catch up to us.

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New Year’s Day 2020 is in the books and, hopefully, a fond memory for you. You may have enjoyed a day off work, perhaps a celebration the night before, and maybe some college football on the big day itself.

Forget to do anything?

Hint: Checked your smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors lately?

Home safety experts advise us that the operation of such devices ought to be checked periodically. Batteries should be changed at least annually, they add. Some suggest remembering to do that when the changeover from or to daylight savings time occurs. Others suggest New Year’s Day.

It makes sense. If you have the day off, you have plenty of time to take just a few minutes to check the detectors and put in new batteries.

Is that really such a big deal? Yes.

Nearly 60% of the deaths in home fires occur where no smoke alarms were present — or they were not working, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The death rate in reported home fires was more than twice as high for residences without working smoke detectors.

So yes, it is important.

Not to worry. You forgot to check the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on New Year’s Day — but the weekend is nearly upon us. That should give you plenty of time to perform a simple task that could save your life or those of loved ones.

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