There has been much discussion about the approaching 'fiscal cliff' and how to avoid it and to reduce the deficit. In the long run, all of that is nonsense and the true long-range problem is something all members of all branches of government, regardless of party affiliation, know about but do not want the people to know.

Our debt is $16 trillion and is projected to reach $26 trillion by 2021. Trimming the annual deficit will not solve the problem.

Look at the federal budget for 2012. Projected expenditures are $3.8 trillion. Projected income from all sources is $2.5 trillion.

The budget consists of three main parts: Interest on all our borrowing in the amount of $0.4 trillion; mandatory expenditures including Social Security, Medicare and other related items in the amount of $2.1 trillion; the cost of running the government including both security (the military) and non-security items, in the amount of $2.1 trillion.

Total income can pay for interest and running the government or interest and mandatory outlays, but not all three.

We must pay the interest or default and destroy our economy and that of much of the world. If we drop the mandatory category there will be riots, anarchy, civil war and activities that make the recent unrest in Greece look like a picnic. If we wipe out the government, which includes the military, chaos reigns.

The only solution is extreme pain, and the pain must be shared by everyone and everything. Do taxes have to go up? Yes. Do expenditures have to be cut sharply (drastically)? Yes.

Our representatives in Washington at all levels and of all affiliations must: 1) Admit the problem; 2) explain the problem, including what happens if nothing is done so that all the people understand it; 3) fix the problem and share the pain across the board.

God help us all if Washington continues past and present practices.

Fred Bridge

Manchester Twp.