Last Call for I.O.U.S.A.

If you’re puzzled as to why or how we continue to let our national debt skyrocket out of control, the new documentary I.O.U.S.A is worth checking out as a 90-minute primer on a topic that gets woefully little attention given its impact on the future of our nation. —-

Unfortunately, as is often the case with small art-house films (especially documentaries about esoteric subject matter), I.O.U.S.A. closes tomorrow after just a one-week run at The Esquire.

(Not worth the paper it's printed on?)

The United States’ national debt currently stands at about $10 trillion — nearly double what it was when President Bush took office — and shows no signs of slowing down without serious changes. Patrick Creadon’s prescient, warning-shot documentary (which debuted at Sundance in January), attempts to dissect the reasons the U.S. economy is in such a shitty state.

The simple diagnosis? Americans believe in instant gratification. We consume more than we produce. We want it all, and we want it now. It’s this kind of mindset that has us indebted on a greater scale than ever to other countries (especially China), which in turn is threatening to put us in an extremely vulnerable position both fiscally and politically.

Creadon, whose previous documentary Wordplay entertained despite its similarly egg-headed subject matter, interviews and/or uses vintage footage from a host of so-called experts, everyone from various U.S. presidents to mondo-money dudes like Warren Buffett to former Treasury Department secretary Paul O’Neill, who was forced out by the Bush administration because he disagreed with its tax policies.

One of the most intriguing clips is of a hearing in which Rep. Ron Paul questions then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose free-market economic philosophies many blame as a big reason for our current crisis.

“If I performed like that as a physician, my patient would die,” Paul says to a speechless, grim-faced Greenspan.

(Proponent of fiscal responsibility: Rep. Ron Paul)

The film’s various graphs and pie charts that try to explain the complex mix of elements that impact the national debt can sometimes be tough to follow (especially for an economic novice like me), but one thing is clear after watching I.O.U.S.A.: We can’t keep going down our current path without bankrupting future generations.

Yes, this might be the scariest film of the Halloween season.

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