I saw over the weekend that the national debt has now climbed up above $14 trillion. That comes down to about $146,000 for every man women and child in America, or over half a million dollars for a family of four -- and that's on top of your mortgage, the car loan, the credit card balance and your college loan.
Honestly, that's too big a problem for me to handle. I'll leave that one to someone else.
However, as we all know, state and local governments have also run into a lot of financial trouble. New York's budget gap this year is $9 billion. New Jersey has an $11 billion gap. Illinois $12.5 billion. California $25 billion. The Badgers -- who have gone very public with their family financial fiasco, and where things have gotten pretty nasty -- suffer a gap of only some $3 billion.
Now, while I don't have a clue how to solve the problem of $14 trillion, I do have an idea for how states can cover their billions.
Have you been out on the road recently? If so, you know everyone speeds. So here's my debt solution: Every municipality in America should issue a speeding ticket to every licensed driver in in their jurisdiction
Don't try to tell me you're not guilty. Everyone speeds! You don't need a judge and jury to figure that one out.
If you go out on the highway for just a few minutes and travel the speed limit, you'll get run over by people in the left-hand land, people in the middle lane, and people coming behind you in the so-called slow lane.
Not to mention local drivers. The lady down the street from me, in our little development, hits 40 mph between the corner and her driveway -- a stretch that's maybe 200 yards. And where the speed limit is 25 mph. And believe me, she's not the only one.
I live in the State of New York. There are more than 11 million drivers in New York. In my town, if you get a ticket for going, say, 20 miles an hour over the speed limit, the ticket costs $80. (Don't ask me how I know . . . let's just say I know.) On top of the local fine, the state imposes a surcharge of $125. Yeah, the surcharge is more than the actual fine!
Anyway, so this plan -- which, let's face it, is perfectly fair and reasonable; who among us has not exceeded the speed limit at least once in the past year? -- would result in the State of New York taking in a little over $2 billion. But as you can see, that's not nearly enough to cover its budget shortfall.
So the state government will have to do what governments do best -- expand the program. We can give a ticket for aggressive driving to every person who commutes to work more than ten miles a day. Have you seen those commuters? Guilty!
We could issue a ticket for tailgating to every male driver under the age of 30. Is anyone going to try to claim they're innocent? Add to that a ticket for driving while distracted -- you know, while talking on a cellphone, or combing your hair, putting on makeup, eating a Big Mac or drinking a Starbucks. I'm not sure if all of those activities are illegal -- it is illegal to drive while talking on a cellphone in my state -- but all of them are very dangerous.
And so, you know how they talk about "unintended consequences" of the most well-intended laws and regulations? Well, one unintended consequence of this plan might just be that drivers will slow down a bit out on the highway. Maybe even save a few lives. That wouldn't be a bad thing, would it?