Overdraft is a horror movie for smart people.
Debuting at 8 p.m. Monday on WTVI (Channel 42) and airing nationally this summer on PBS, the documentary explains the causes of the national debt, why its a threat to the economy and national security and possible solutions to the nations debt, now well over $15 trillion.
Dont know what a trillion is? Youre not alone.
Overdraft explains it this way: A million seconds is 11 1/2 days. A trillion seconds is 32,000 years.
To pay it off today, every American including infants would have to pony up more than $50,000 each.
Blessed are the young, is the quote cited from Herbert Hoover, because they will inherit the national debt.
Produced by Davidson-based documentarian Scott Galloway with an urgent score by Charlotte composer Fred Story, Overdraft draws on a variety of experts from Time magazines Joe Klein to former president Bill Clinton to explain the issue in historic and understandable terms.
Erskine Bowles, the former chairman of the UNC System who served as co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson, puts it most simply: This fiscal path were on is simply not sustainable.
But the recommendations from the commission didnt find backing in Washington. People want the budget cut, Bowles acknowledges. They just dont want cuts where most of the money goes, to defense, health care and Social Security.
Unless something is done, though, the problem is going to get worse. Already the baby-boom generation is hitting retirement age, expecting their benefits and getting in line for Medicare.
When Social Security was set up, the average life expectancy in the United States was 64 and retirement was at 65, Klein points out. Now boomers can expect to live at least a decade longer with mounting health costs toward the end.
Because the federal government can always print more money, it gives the illusion that things are stable. But the individual states, without that ability, are already showing symptoms of bankruptcy.
Illinois is one of the most stricken. A pharmacist there illustrates the point. He had to pay his suppliers every two weeks for medication disbursed to Medicaid patients. But the state of Illinois was running nine months late with its reimbursements to him for their bills because the state didnt have the money. One day, neither did he. He lost his pharmacy business of 20 years.
Another voice from the past by the end of Overdraft leaves us with a flicker of hope that the appropriate sacrifices will eventually be made. You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, said Winston Churchill, after theyve tried everything else.
Brad Krantz, former WBT-AM (1110) afternoon host, returns to his old job July 2, replacing Vince Coakley in afternoons. Program director Carl East says Krantz and sidekick Britt Whitmire, who worked together at stations in Greensboro and Raleigh, will be doing a more entertaining show than the heavy political talk the station has relied on in afternoon drive for more than a decade. Coakley, former anchor at WSOC (Channel 9), will work through June 19.
Replacing Harriett Coffey on mid-days at WXRC-FM (Ride 95.7) is Kimber Murphy.