"I will argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but our own fiscal irresponsibility."
-David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States
I.O.U.S.A.is a documentary movie that begins with this quote from the David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States, our nation's chief accountant. It takes a very complex topic - our nation's financial health - and does an excellent job explaining four major deficits we face in America in very simple terms - even making it entertaining at times.
Personally, I like documentaries. I was a bit nervous as to how digestable this one would be - learning about government deficits is not nearly as understandable as Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, which details Morgan's experience eating three meals a day for a whole month at McDonalds. Most people can imagine what they would feel like if they lived on McDonalds for thirty days, but how does one relate to a deficit of $8.7 trillion? And what exactly is a deficit to begin with? Through the use of simple terminology, animation and a little bit of humor, Patrick Creadon does an excellent job.
In one part of the movie they interview people on the street and ask them what the federal budget deficit is, and how big they think it is. Their answers range from clueless to bewilderment. If this is a slice of Americana, it's clear that Americans don't understand why the budget deficit is a huge problem. The scary part is that if they don't understand it, how can we count on them to support reforms when their vote is needed?
The funniest part of the movie is a mock commercial from Saturday Night Live, touting a new book called Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford. Steve Martin is absolutely hilarious in this skit.
Much of the movie centers around David Walker's Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, where he traveled the country explaining to citizens the seriousness of the our coutnry's fiscal problems, beginning with the budget deficit. Sadly, I don't recall anyone in Congress giving any support whatsoever to his tour. In fact, one of the four major deficits he explains in the movie is our country's leadership deficit. He says:
"Too many of our nation’s leaders know we are facing a financial crisis, yet they lack the courage to do something about it."
In addition to the budget and leadership deficits, he points out the savings deficit and the trade deficit.
I highly recommend this movie for all Americans so we can look past partisan bickering and get an unbiased view of what we are facing. In doing so we can hold our elected officials accountable for the necessary leadership to solve these looming problems. The movie is a sobering look at reality and a wake-up call to all Americans, especially those of us who are concerned about the legacy we'll leave behind for future generations. In my opinion it should be required study for all high school students. At a minimum, it's worth investing 30 minutes of your time watching the short version on YouTube.