What the US Debt Crisis Means to Me

August 6, 2011

I’m sure even non-Americans were paying attention to the debt crisis unfolding in Washington these past few weeks. As the world’s largest economy, the US defaulting on trillions of dollars in debt would have had repercussions across the globe. As it stands, of course, the crisis has been averted (or rather, pushed back).

I’m not here to talk numbers. I’m not an economist, though I do enjoy The Economist. I’m just a kid from Texas living in Korea who was considering his future in the states as all of this was going on. I’d like to share those thoughts with you.

I did not move to Korea because I couldn’t find a job in America. In fact, I was pretty sure I could have with a little elbow grease and lowering my standards. But I did extend my stay here because of the current economic climate in the US. Was that ignorant? Quite possibly. Telling myself one independent person comfortable with self-employment could be affected by something as immeasurable as unemployment and quality of life is tantamount to saying one can’t walk anywhere in the rain; sure, some will get wet and want to turn back, but others will accept the fact it’s raining and go forth with dignity. I consider myself one of the latter.

So how did I handle the news of this potential default? By considering all my options:

  • I could stay at my current job, mentally defunct but financially secure
  • I could stick to the plan of returning to the US in October and just hope for the best

The entire time, I wasn’t really thinking of the debt crisis as the problem. The main issue I had was: some of the highest elected officials in the most powerful nation on Earth were acting like idiots, spoiled children, short-sighted political figures who wanted nothing more than leverage. The August 1st outcome is testament to that: nothing has been solved, just pushed back to later this year and the next, at which time I’m certain the same bipartisan bickering and lack of concern for the American people will prevail.

Why would I want to return to a country where the battle for power is more important than those you represent? To some extent, we’ve always known this to be true of our leaders, but the recent crisis certainly threw a massive spotlight on their incompetence. You’d think grassroots candidates get into politics to cut through all this BS and talk plainly and simply to the people about the problems in the system. But that never happens: they get sucked into lethargy and pandering, and we just get more of the same. I didn’t really think Obama the President would be a major change to the system, having already been Obama the Senator, but there was some hope. Not so anymore.

So I guess I’m torn between frustration, helplessness, and just despair about the fate of my country. When one motivated individual has the power to bring the economy to a grinding halt, and another one isn’t willing to take a stand and do what he knows need to be done, what does that say for the rest of us, who watch it unfold and do nothing? I don’t even think we can do anything.

I’m not staying in Korea. Despite the uncertainty of what I may be returning to, it’s still home, and I’ll just have to try and make it better in my own small way.

2 Responses to What the US Debt Crisis Means to Me

  1. danielle on August 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I’m right there with you Turner. My contract is up the first week in November and I’ve decided to go home too. My mother wants me to stay in Korea because of the bad economy, but my boyfriend and I both cannot handle the idea of teaching at a hagwon anymore. The hardest part of leaving will be knowing that we won’t know the next time we’ll see a decent pay check. I’d much rather try to make it back home and fail, only to come back to Korea and teach again, than to extend my contract and not know whether or not I could have survived at home.
    Great post!!

  2. Andrea on August 10, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I dream of the day we get to return to the US (I’ve been living overseas for six years and miss family and friends) – but I’m pretty afraid of what the US may look like when we finally do return (probably in 2-3 years). I read The Economist too and keep up with what’s going on – you’ve put it really well here and I just wanted to let you know that I share your fears. Good luck with your homecoming and I look forward to reading about how you go!

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