I.O.U.S.A Directed by: Patrick Creadon Time: 1 hour and 15 mins Rating: Documentary, unrated
I.O.U.S.A--or, as I like to call it, Saw 5 for Grownups--might just be the scariest movie I've seen in a long, long time. The documentary deconstructs and explains each little aspect of this Nation's skyrocketing debt, and it does a splendid job. Usually, one would use the word "splendid" to describe a nice picnic on a sunny day, but in this context, "splendid" signifies "I miss my ignorance." Basically, if the government doesn't figure out how to balance its checkbook sooner than later, it's all going to hell in a handbasket and our country will collapse and the next few generations will end up having to pay a 50 to 75 percent income tax...truly. Seriously about the 50 to 75 percent income tax, people.
Based on the book Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis by William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, the documentary does an excellent job of taking an obscure subject and making it more accessible: school children, average Joe's, and even our President could understand the film's message. Mothers should be playing this film for babies still in the womb. Honestly, it should be required viewing for high school students and freshman in college. Scratch that--this film should be required viewing for every single last person living in the continental United States.
Our national debt, the stock market crisis, and our trade deficit are not easy topics for most people. It's complicated and intimidating and most of us just hope the people in charge have an idea of how to handle the immensity of the problem. In the film, George W. Bush is asked about the "growing problem" ("growing problem" = nice way of saying "a sh*t burger fifteen stories high") he replies, "You'll have to ask an economist. I got a...B?...in economics, but I got an A in keeping taxes low!" And of course, the toxic irony of it all is that you can only balance the budget by either: 1.) Minimizing government spending, or 2.) Raising taxes, none of which good ol' W. has been particularly willing to do.
For example, did YOU know that even if we stopped all the pork barrel initiatives and ended the war in Iraq, we'd still be nowhere near to balancing the budget? Did you just scream and thrust your head into the nearest sandhole? I know how you feel. Did you know that we're paying off our debt using Social Security surpluses that we should be saving for a huge wave of soon-to-be-retiring Baby Boomers? Did you know that when my generation is ready to retire, we probably won't get any Social Security? Did you know that we used to be one of the top countries for trade and now our third largest export is scrap metal out of junk yards? Did you know our national debt is almost $9 trillion dollars and when G.W. was first sworn into office it was around $4 trillion dollars? Ha-ha! Me neither! Isn't this learning stuff just a peck of good times? And get your head out of that sandhole--that sandhole used to be mine.
How much is $9 trillion? An average Lamborghini costs $200,000. If I had $9 trillion dollars and I wanted to spend it all on Lamborghinis, I could afford to buy 45 million of 'em. However, it would soon occur to me that Lamborghinis are for chumps. Why buy a sports car, when I could collect space shuttles, instead? An average space shuttle costs around $1.7 billion dollars, so if I spent my $9 trillion on space shuttles, I could afford about 529 of those bad boys! Although...do space shuttles depreciate, because that's not a good investment. Why not buy million dollar houses, instead? If I spent all my $9 trillion on million dollar houses, I'd have ... math is exhausting.
"Sounds boring." That's what I thought, too! And it's not boring--it's threatening. The documentary doesn't go out of its way to menace its audience, but it's scary and looming and truthful. Learning about the national debt was similar to having a doctor diagnose me with potentially inoperable cancer. Would I prefer to go back to my freewheeling days of happy, blissful, dumb joy? You betcha bottom dollar, I would. Here's the thing, though: you can't. The whole country has financial cancer. Ignore it, and it'll just keep getting worse. Neo and I just swallowed the red pill.
Economic advisors and history professors love to compare us with the Roman Empire. Have you seen the Roman Empire lately? It's in little crumbling piles throughout Europe. If you were sneaky about it, you could take a tiny piece of the Roman Empire home with you in your pocket. Comparisons between our beloved country and the Roman Empire are bad--bad, bad. It's like having someone compare your career to the Titanic--it's just one of those things you'd rather not hear.
And all you have to do is learn about it. All we have to do, as a country, is involve ourselves more in politics and improve our own personal financial situations. The whole point of I.O.U.S.A is that, yes, it's abysmal, but something can still be done about it. The very first obstacle is the lazy, slackers like me, and if I can do it...
Note to any conservative readers: I.O.U.S.A is bipartisan. I'm liberal, but I have conservative pals, and I can almost see them shaking a fist and shouting, "Liberal propaganda!" Yes, you could say the documentary makes fun of El Presidente, but only because it lets him talk, unabridged. I.O.U.S.A carefully involves all the political parties, and, most notably, a scathing look at government spending from Senator Ron Paul. Basically, if you refuse to see this movie, because you're afraid you might be "brainwashed," you should just go ahead and punch yourself in the throat. You might be able to afford 50%-75% income taxes, but the rest of us sure can't.