Friday, August 22, 2008

Roger Ebert on the National Debt

Does anyone read Roger Ebert?

I used to watch him on TV, reviewing movies with his svelter pal Gene Siskel, and I enjoyed their show. But its simplistic trademark "Two thumbs up!" rating system and geeky banter didn't give me any reason to suspect either host might be a great writer.

I don't know about Gene (who passed in 1999), but Ebert is a wonderful essayist. If you don't read him, give him a try; you don't have to be a movie-goer to appreciate him.

Although Ebert's topics hover around the movies he's reviewing, he doesn't fear making more general commentary. This makes his reviews read more like essays, which I think is a better term for them.

While he sometimes explores widely around his topics, he rarely gets political. A review of the recent documentary I.O.U.S.A. offers him some opportunity for that. He responds evenly, in the partisan sense, but clearly the theme of the film (our national debt) has affected him.

He opens with, "A letter to our grandchildren, Raven, Emil and Taylor: I see you growing up into such beautiful people, and I wish all good things to you as you make the leap into adulthood. But I have just seen a documentary titled 'I.O.U.S.A.' that snapped into sharp focus why your lives may not be as pleasant as ours have been. Chaz and I had the blessing of growing up in an optimistic, bountiful America. We never fully realized that we were paying for many of our comforts with your money."

This is a theme we touch on at the Q., and since I've frequently thought to recommend Ebert's writing to you, I felt this would be a good one to share. You might want to read the whole thing (and maybe catch the movie), but if you don't have time, I'll give you the spoiler:

"So here's the bottom line, kids. The United States is probably going to go broke during your lifetimes. Actually, it's already broke, but getting deeper into debt allows it to keep running on thin air, like the Road Runner. My advice? Learn Chinese. Start savings accounts. Don't buy what you can't afford. Any politician who tries to win votes by promising to cut taxes is digging our country's grave."

1 comment:

PBurns said...

And vote!

A cartoon that tells you a lot about the history of debt can be found here >>