I just got back from I.O.U.S.A.: LIVE with Warren Buffett, Pete Peterson & Dave Walker, a primer on why we should be concerned about the rising national debt, in a packed house — click here to watch a trailer.
As you may recall, there is a billboard-size clock near Times Square was put up by Seymour B. Durst in the late 1980’s to bring attention to government borrowing. It had been turned off for nearly two years starting in 2000 while the federal government was flush with surpluses when in 2002 it flickered back to life, showing a national debt of $6.1 trillion, as George W. Bush’s presidency racked up the national debt quickly.
The national debt has continued to increase an average of $1.86 billion per day since September 28, 2007 and is now over $9.7 trillion thanks to an ever-expanding government and military, increased international competition, and debts to foreign countries that are becoming impossible to honor. That makes each citizen’s share of this debt more than $30,000! And according to I.O.U.S.A. that number rises to $53 trillion when you take into account total unfunded and overextended entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).
I.O.U.S.A. examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens by following U.S. Comptroller General David Walker (who has resigned as head of the Government Accountability Office to be a more politically active in the grassroots effort to education Americans about the problem of our national debt) and Robert Bixby director of the Concord Coalition) as they crisscross the country during their “Fiscal Wake Up Tour” explaining America’s unsustainable fiscal policies to its citizens.
The documentary was written and directed by the husband and wife team of Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley and based in part on Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis by William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, who also wrote Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century.
Topical and nonpartisan, I.O.U.S.A. drives home the message that we must mend our spendthrift ways or face an economic disaster of epic proportions while proposing solutions about how we can recreate a fiscally sound nation for future generations.
It features a number of candid appearances, including by Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, Peter G. Peterson, Sens. Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg, former Treasury Secretaries Paul O’Neill and Robert Rubin, former CBO chief Alice Rivlin, Rep. Ron Paul, Bob Bixby, and David M. Walker.
Watching the movie made me think of all the ways the super rich are cheating the tax code and other government regulations at the expense of everyday Americans — which I learned all about from David Cay Johnston’s Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich – and Cheat Everybody Else (click here to read my entries on this book or click here to read an excerpt of the book) and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) (click here to read my entries on this book or click here to read excerpts and view the table of contents on the author’s website for this book).
I.O.U.S.A. premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2008 where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It also played at the 2008 Maryland Film Festival where it was a huge hit — sold out in nearly every showing!
I.O.U.S.A.: LIVE with Warren Buffett, Pete Peterson & Dave Walker was broadcast via satellite to about 400 theaters nationwide. The documentary was immediately followed by a live satellite broadcast of a fantastic 45-minute town meeting style Q&A on the US economy from Omaha with America’s most notable financial leaders and policy experts, including:
- Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
- William Niskanen, chairman of the CATO Institute
- Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP
- Pete Peterson, senior chairman of The Blackstone Group and chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation
- Dave Walker, president & CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former U.S. Comptroller General.
Agora Financial‘s Addison Wiggin (who concieved of, co-written and executive produced the movie) and David Walker (President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation which purchased the movie in July 2008) are also releasing a book I.O.U.S.A to accompany new feature-length documentary based on the writings of Agora’s The Daily Reckoning. It features stories about the people involved in making decisions about the four major deficits in the country (federal deficit, trade deficit, savings deficit, and leadership deficit) including Warren Buffet, Robert Rubin, Alice Rivlin, Pete Peterson, David Walker, Paul O’Neill, James Areddy, and Bill Bonner.
Click here to download the Peter G Peterson Foundation’s Citizens Guide, intended to provide a clear and concise summary of where our nation stands financially and where it is headed fiscally.
- Irvine, CA
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
Now maybe I should finally get to reading my copy of Peter G. Peterson’s Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do about It!
But first, I’m going to read Warren Buffet’s essay about Squanderville and Thriftville titled “Why I’m not buying the U.S. dollar,” published in Fortune Magazine in October 2003 and mentioned in I.O.U.S.A.