We Are On The Verge Of “The Great Reckoning”

Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump: The Big Game is on. What can we expect?

  1. Donald Trump will continue to be The Big Giant Id. Whatever passes through his brain will tumble out of his mouth, which is a sign (depending on your point of view) of great authenticity or great stupidity
  2. Hillary Clinton will continue to be the focus-group-tested automaton that leaves a great many wondering if there is an actually human inside that diamond hard surface.
  3. Donald Trump, who gathered more primary votes than any Presidential candidate in history, will continue to enjoy a loyal following, which will baffle and frustrate Republican insiders.
  4. Hillary Clinton, who has finally brushed away the pesky primary challenge of Bernie Sanders and his many supporters, will continue to enjoy a loyal following, which will baffle and frustrate Democratic outsiders.
  5. The plodding investigation of Donald Trump’s “University” will continue to stink of politics and cover up, which is going to taint his candidacy.
  6. The plodding investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email set up will continue to stink of politics and cover up, which is going to taint her candidacy.
  7. All of the above will be relatively small cheese as our nation enters a period for which I humbly offer the following title: The Great Reckoning.

What do I mean by “The Great Reckoning”?

Simply put, whoever wins the Presidency and whichever party controls Congress will be captive to the consequences of decades profligate spending and the resulting debt overhang that is plaguing businesses and practically all levels of government.

Think that the handwringing over Puerto Rico’s unsustainable debt is a crisis? Just wait for the coming wave of corporate and governmental cliffhangers regarding the repayment of bond debts and—even more terrifying—the payment of promised pension benefits.

If you want a peek into our pension futures, type “Central States Pension Fund” into Google—and prepare to be appalled at the catastrophic benefit cuts facing 400,000 retired Teamsters and their families. Given the ever-widening chasm in virtually every private and public pension fund between promises and reality, the financial security of our aging population is going to be a defining challenge—and will promote a great deal of generational conflict as tax dollars are shifted from the young to the old.

Of course, our political leaders will be the very last people to speak plainly about what is ahead. Listening to President Obama recently propose an expansion of Social Security benefits, one had to wonder how that could be feasible considering the estimated $80 trillion gap in Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements that needs to somehow be filled to pay what is promised right now.

We are on the cusp of The Great Reckoning, but we are still comforting ourselves with the notion that some financial magic will make everything come out fine—it won’t. This problem will affect every personal, business, and governmental decision we make for decades to come—and it will get very ugly.

How bad could it be? Many forget that the French Revolution was not only about liberté, égalité, and fraternité; it was also caused by a catastrophic accumulation of public debt that was crushing the people of France. Speaking to the French Assembly on September 26, 1789, the Comte de Mirabeau chastised his fellow nobility for their refusal to do their part in shouldering the burdens the financial crisis facing his nation:

“Do you imagine that in refusing to pay, you will cease to owe? Do you believe that the thousands, the millions of men who will lose in an instant, by the terrible explosion and its repercussion, all that made the consolation of their lives, and constituted perhaps, the sole means of their support, would leave you peaceably to enjoy your crime?”

Obviously, the nobility of that time—analogous to our business and governmental leaders of today—were not left in peace. Perhaps we are now a gentler and more reasonable people, but I would hesitate to bet on the continuing good will of anyone who might be tossed into abject poverty due to decades of financial mismanagement by our elites. Hunger and homelessness can make anyone exceedingly impolite.

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