What the Biggest Loser can Teach us About the Debt!
March 18, 2013 1 Comment
If you have seen an episode or even heard of the Biggest Loser TV show, you know what the show is about. If not, the basic premise is that people who are extremely overweight go on a reality show where they live away from their families and compete to lose weight under the demanding routines of their physical trainers. Their entire lives become focused around proper nutrition and punishing workouts in a last-ditch attempt to reverse their unhealthy lifestyles. So what can this show teach us about the nation’s current debt situation?
The contestants on the show are clearly obese and at risk for a host of health problems. If you think about the path that got people to that point, you have to wonder at what point did they realize they had a problem? At what point did their weight and health become a crisis? When they were 30, 50, 100, or even 200 pounds overweight and increasing every year, where were the alarm bells? How did they get to 300, 400 or even 500 pounds without themselves, a loved one, or a friend doing something about it?
Our nation’s debt is following the same pattern as we speak. Experts and politicians argue whether we are in a debt ‘crisis’ or not and struggle to even define what constitutes a debt crisis. Here is what we do know. We are almost $17 trillion in debt and increasing that every year. Even the Ryan budget, which is regarded as extreme by those on the left, only gets us to a balanced budget in 10 years. In other words, in 10 years we only get to the point where we stop putting on weight but we have not lost a pound in that 10 years and have continued to pack on the weight, only more slowly. Maybe we are not at a debt crisis now, but what does it take for the country to recognize that the trend is not good and that if nothing is done, we will just keep adding to the problem?
Because the contestants on the show have become extremely obese, their problems are compounded. First, they require major lifestyle changes to improve their health. They try to change their eating habits drastically and endure tough workouts. These workouts are made more difficult by the extra weight that affects their joints and hearts, and by the fact that their bodies are typically not ready for physical activity due to years of sedentary lifestyles.
Likewise, the worse the debt becomes, the harder it will be to reverse the problem. The interest alone on the debt will be like that extra weight threatening the body’s health. The shear amount of debt to pay off will force future generations to take more drastic measures. Compare that to the minor and gradual lifestyle changes that can be taken when a person is only 15 or 20 pounds overweight and can simply cut out that extra dessert, reduce portions slightly and get out for a daily walk. A crushing level of debt will require a radical change in diet and punishing physical activity to get it under control.
A couple of decades ago we were probably at our ‘ideal weight’ when it comes to the debt. Four or five years ago we were showing telltale signs of being overweight. In the last four to five years we have been packing on the pounds at a very rapid pace. If we are not in a crisis yet, why wait until we get there? Why wait until we are so heavy that it is tough to move and we have so much weight to lose. Why not push away from the table now, start exercising and reducing the waste in our diet so that we can make some positive changes before we need Jillian and Bob yelling in our faces. Now some will argue that the debt is different than weight because we can simply print more money. That is true, but that is like converting your weight from pounds to kilograms because it sounds better, or going on a quick fad diet to drop a few pounds. You haven’t changed the fundamental problem. Printing money eventually just lowers the value of all the money in circulation so while we address the immediate debt, we cause inflation. And while we may have dropped a few pounds or paid off some debt temporarily, if we don’t change our lifestyle we will just keep adding it back on.
Before every contestant on the show reached the point of being morbidly obese, there had to be a point where all the bad signs were there and they chose to ignore them. Do we need to do the same as a nation? Let’s put down that piece of cake and go for a walk while we still can.