10/09/2012 12:38 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2012

The Election and Our National Debt

My wife and I are walkers. One of our walks takes us past a private school. We have passed it many times, but this time the full name of the school caught my attention for the first time. Most people refer to the school simply as "Principia," as I have always done. But its real name is "The Principia."

That struck me as a little strange. One does not call it The Yale, or The Harvard, or "the" any other school or college. I had never given the name of this school any deep thought, but this caused me to look further into its meaning.

"Principia" is derived from the Latin meaning a first or fundamental principle, and "principia" is the plural form -- meaning fundamental principles. This really tweaked my interest, causing me to wonder what fundamental principles were being referred to. And then I took a closer look at the school's logo, and there it was: under "The Principia," in small letters, was: "As the Sowing, the Reaping," probably based on Galatians 6:7 in the New Testament. In modern English, one would say, "What you sow, is what you reap."

How very true that is with elections! History teaches us that whom we elect as president impacts our lives for many years to come -- even for generations. Take, for example, FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society, George W. Bush's prescription drug programs and Middle East policies, and President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

How we vote on November 6 will have long-lasting consequences. How we vote, or how we sow, will determine what we reap in the future -- in many ways what life in the U.S. will be like in the future. The two candidates have different visions for leading this country, and we, as individual voters, need to look deeply into what we want life in the U.S. to be like in the immediate and long-range future.

If a country is to be looked up to and trusted, I believe that its government must foster financial integrity. One of my greatest concerns is the national debt. Individuals -- and countries, including the United States -- will face severe consequences if they live beyond their means year after year and borrow money time and again to make up the difference without having a workable plan to pay down the loans. Look at Europe today. Not a pretty picture! Not paying our debts now means that someone -- perhaps our children and grandchildren and even their children -- will have to make the sacrifices and face up to the consequences of a gigantic national debt.

When someone wants to borrow money, regardless of the purpose, the banker will ask two questions. First, "What do you want the money for?" If the banker believes the money is for a worthwhile purpose, he/she will ask the second question; "How do you plan to pay back the money?" Regardless of the worthiness of the loan's purpose, and regardless of what collateral is offered to secure the loan, if you do not have some reasonable plan for paying back the loan you will not get it.

I cannot imagine any responsible bank officer approving a loan to the United States government. Democrats and Republicans might disagree about the worthy causes for which the money is being borrowed, but both sides could make a case for the money being used for worthwhile purposes. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a plan for paying back the loans, but they do talk about ways to slow the growth of our deficits over the next many years -- that is, how to slow the need to keep borrowing money.

I can't imagine going to a bank and asking for a loan and admitting that I had been living above my means for many years and had borrowed money year after year to make up the difference, that I planned to continue living above my means and would need to continue borrowing money for another decade or so until I could get my finances in order, but not to worry because I would then begin paying back what I owed, although currently I had no plan for how I would do it. What banker in his or her right mind would loan money under those circumstances?

That is exactly the situation our country is facing, yet neither candidate has offered a practical plan for living within our means, much less for paying down the national debt. For example, President Obama's plan for raising taxes on the wealthy will certainly not get the job done, nor will Governor Romney's suggestion of eliminating tax loopholes and reducing deductions. Come on -- let's get real! How are we going to deal with this problem?

In order for President Obama to get my vote, he must convince me that after being in office for four years he now has a plan to re-establish our country's financial integrity. Just telling me he needs more time will not get my vote. And I need Mitt Romney to tell me more about how he's going to transfer his successful business experience into overseeing our country's finances and re-establishing our financial integrity.

When I vote on November 6, I want to be sure that I am sowing the right seed for reaping a sound financial future for my country -- and for my children and their children and their children. Right now, in this writer's opinion, that certainly is not the direction we are heading!