Dear Editor:

I am very sorry to all of those who have been told by the federal government that you must either work for free or take unpaid leave due to the government shutdown. You are right to be angry.

However, please make sure that you channel your anger correctly. The government shutdown is merely a symptom of the real issue. If the “government” would address the real problem there would be no shutdown.

The real problem in this country is not the debt limit congressional spending addiction. Point your finger in the face of your elected officials and demand that they deal with the insatiable spending problem in Washington, D.C.  If this country would control spending there would be no need to borrow and thus no need to raise the debt limit and no shutdown battle.

At present the U.S. is $16.7 trillion dollars in debt. Our current debt ceiling is $16.69 trillion. Moreover, the federal government borrows nearly $5 billion every business day.

The real problem is that the government does not have the income to pay its employees or its other expenditures on any given day of the week. The U.S. government is running perpetually in the red. Our nation has an addiction to spending money that we do not have.

Congress has not passed a budget in at least four years. We cannot continue to sustain this economic strategy indefinitely. This partial shutdown is merely a foreshadowing of the collapse that will come if we do not change our fiscal policy. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem. This is a bipartisan problem in Washington that needs to end.

If our government were a business it would be bankrupt. No lender would continue to loan capital to a business with expenditures which constantly exceeded its revenue. That is the current situation in our country.

One might say, “Let’s increase the revenue.” Well, that generally involves increasing taxes on citizens. This, of course has been the mantra of the Democratic Party over the years. They say we must make the rich pay their fair share so that we can increase the revenue and lower our deficit.

There’s only one problem with that. The top 10 percent of wage earners in the country already pay 70 percent of all federal income taxes. Conversely the bottom 50 percent of all wage earners pay only 2 percent of all federal income taxes. It seems that the richest among us are paying far more than their fair share already. What’s more is that just under half of wage earners pay absolutely no income tax.

Revenue is not really the issue. In 2012 the Congressional Budget Office reported a 6 percent increase in tax revenues. The CBO estimated an 11 percent increase for 2013.

Yet, the federal government has outspent the increase and is still begging and borrowing to make ends meet. This cannot keep on or we will see an economic crisis even more devastating than the most recent recession.

The current shutdown is merely a symptom of the bigger spending problem in Washington, D.C. Let us focus on the real problem. Let us focus our anger on Congress and channel our energy towards electing representatives and senators who understand the importance of working from a balanced budget rather than breaking the bank.

Ronnie J. Knight Jr.