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Debt in the United States

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In the United States debt is something every person learns about at an early age. When keeping the country safe and fighting in wars the government, as a result, increases the debt. While a person grows older, they face many financial challenges such as paying for their college debt, for the mortgage from buying a house and supporting their family. The United States is a country known for being a place where a person has the opportunity to better themselves. Even when there are immigrants in the U.S. legally, they are faced with the chance of being in poverty and facing hardships in supporting themselves and their family. It is known in our society that being successful in life requires a person to have a good education, job and be able to afford a nice house and car. People go to the extreme when they try to fit the mold of having a successful life that our society has crafted, as a result, they fall into debt to keep the facade up. The debt of not just the national debt but individual citizens but plays a role in the identity of the United States of America.

National Debt

There should be more done to reduce the United States’ national debt since it has a notable impact on America’s identity. The national debt of the United States of America is over 21 trillion dollars in 2018 (U.S. Treasury 2018). Two-thirds of the national debt is owed by the public, businesses, and foreign governments when they buy U.S. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds (Amadeo 2018). The calculated debt per each American citizen is about $66,218 as of 2018 (U.S. Clock). During George W. Bush presidency the debt increased by about $8.5 trillion in his time in office, with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq (Amadeo 2018). Wars impacts how Americans treat citizens from other countries and also play a role in the continuation of the


increase of the national debt, the budget for defense and war is $639 million in the year 2018 (U.S. Defense 2018). When the U.S. is at war with another country and there have been terrorist attacks, Americans tend to become more violent to the ethnic group of that country.

Each department of the government contributes to the national debt but federal spending plays a large role in it such as the Social Security Trust Fund and Medicare/Medicaid departments. The budget for Social Security is $994 billion and Medicare/Medicaid is over $1 trillion with over 58 million enrollees and 78 million represents as of December 2018, and they both increase every day (U.S. Clock 2018). When an American hits an age where they can retire, they receive a certain amount each month that is calculated from the amount they put in while they worked. As the U.S. population ages, and they retire, the government will have a hard time paying for their Social Security. While the debt continues to grow the government has an increased risk of defaulting on their debt service obligations.

If the government decided to default on the debt, taxes would increase for property owners and corporations. As a result of the increase in taxes, corporations would raise the prices of their products which would in return lower living standards in America. If the prices of everyday products increased without an increase in wages, Americans would not be able to afford many of the products they needed. There is a chance that the government may not default but no one knows how the future will unfold, each change in leadership results in the unknown. With the national debt continuing to grow and not many signs of it decreasing there is little room for economic growth which means fewer jobs and an increase in unemployment. The debt also hinders the government’s ability to help in a future economic crisis and diverts investments from other vital places like education.


Student Debt

Another significant debt in America is the debt that college students acquire when they graduate. The total amount of student debt in the United States has hit $1.5 trillion in 2018 (Griffin 2018). There are about 44 million graduates that hold the debt, and on average a graduate leaves school with about $37,000 in debt. There is an increasing perception that getting a college education is the only way to have a stable life and be able to support yourself in the future. There is the option of financial aid, which the government offers, but with the high cost of college tuition, the amount a student receives is not enough to cover a significant amount of the cost. The government controls the budget of financial aid and how much a student receives and that effects on the national debt. If the government increase the budget for financial aid, so students received more, as a result, the national debt would rise in the process of paying for the new budget. As a result, students are relying more on loans, which increases over the years and depending on what degree you get it is possible it will be even more than the average.

The government has the ability to raise and lower the financial aid budget, which affects both the national debt and students. America is among the most expensive countries to attend college or university in, while in some other countries college is inexpensive and some are even free (Zaloom 2018). When an American has the opportunity to attend college in a foreign county that is inexpensive, they might stay in that country and start a life there, which would affect the future of America. The national debt draws resources from other vital departments in the government. When the education department has budget cuts it affects not just college students but students in every grade. With the cost of attending college high as the student graduates it increase their debt and lowers how they live so they can repay the debt.


There are times when a student is not able to obtain a high paying job after graduation. So the chance of a person paying off their loans for most of their adult life is extremely likely. Which as a result their debt delays them buying a house, getting married, having children, saving for retirement, and putting money back into the U.S. economy. Many graduates have a hard time finding jobs and a lot of times the only jobs they can find are ones that are not that relevant to their degree. The debt of not just students but of all citizens is changing the culture in America. Household Debt

Then there is the debt of individuals outside of student debt that is also a large factor in American identity. American’s household debt has reached $ 13.51 trillion in the third quarter of 2018 (Federal 2018). Credit card debt is the least amount and has reached a total of $1 trillion with the average household having about $58,000 in debt (U.S. Clock 2018). Credit cards are a necessary evil to some, they need them to keep afloat, but when they have to pay them back it is harder on that person. The mortgage debt has reached $9.56 trillion and auto loan debt totals at $1.1 trillion, which are the highest debts owed among Americans (Federal 2018). Houses and cars are vital to every person, a person needs a roof over their head but to have that roof they need a job and in most places to have a job a person needs a vehicle. This is one of the many never-ending cycles of living in our society today, to have one thing a person need another and another. Which the things a person need are increases over time where it is sometimes hard to understand what is truly a necessity and what is just wanted.

The debt of American households effects how they buy items if all of their income is going to mortgage, utilities, and auto loans, it leads them into getting a credit card to pay for everyday necessities which leads to a larger credit card debt. In today’s society having a nice


appearance and the best things show how accomplished you are. With social media being a big platform for this generation, posting pictures or videos of you having the newest electronics, the most fashionable clothing item, and the finest household items shows to others that you are successful and can afford the best of things.

In America, your Credit Score is vital in getting a loan for anything and many Americans ruin their score buy having multiple credit cards and loans. Many American’s live above their means to keep the facade of a successful life or some barely make it on what they earn take out loans just to survive. The need to have more will lead people into having more jobs or overworking themselves to be able to sustain the ideal life that society portrays. Even immigrants who come to the country have a difficult time with low paying jobs and cost of living here and are in poverty.


The average American is in debt the moment they graduate college, and when they buy a house or car their debt increases. People try to better their situations and that results is debt, but society says to have a good paying job you have to go to college, but college puts a person in debt. Many foreigners come to America for a better life but a lot of the times are met with hostility and hardships. There used to be a thing called ‘the American Dream’ and many would come here to better their lives, but nowadays when an immigrant comes they have a hard time supporting themselves and their families. America’s identity will become more a country of hardships and less one a country where your dreams could be made.

With the total amount of debt in the U.S totaling over $71 trillion, debt plays a considerable role in the identity of the United States in the global economy (U.S. Clock 2018).


When a country has to increase taxes or decrease budgets to vital departments, it hinders how the citizens live. Increase in taxes causes the prices products that consumers need are raised which lowers living standards. When the government decreased the budget for education, it causes students to take more loans out. When students graduate, they have a hard time paying them back and are sometimes unable to find a job that is relevant to that degree. With how the United States is today, many Americans believe they need nice things to have a good life. Which leads some to take out personal loans to afford those items, and when they struggle to pay back the loans it leads them to greater debt and lower living standards.

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