The looming government shutdown last week may have distracted us from a great new program launched by our federal government. They recently started an impressive million-dollar lottery program that will make a lot of people happy!

There are a lot of big winners every day. We are talking about 4,500 winners each day, that each wins a million dollars. Happy day! Unfortunately, my statements above are a bit skewed. Actually, there is no lottery; it just seems that way. This is simply a way to bring some realism to our current rate of U.S. national debt increase. These numbers include the historic agreement made last week to avert the shutdown of the government. Yes, our US national debt is increasing by $4.5 billion per day. I mean each and every day, with no time off for holidays or weekends. It adds up to $1.645 trillion for this fiscal year. If this doesn’t provide enough fear and uneasiness to get you squirming, go to www.usdebtclock.org and watch the numbers change in real time. It is hard to tell you where we stand, since the numbers are changing rapidly, but the numbers are so big that they are stable if you look at the left side of the numbers (such numbers should never be so big that there is a left side and a right side). The U.S. national debt is 14.3 trillion, which is $46,000 per citizen or $128,000 per taxpayer.

If you are thinking that this is crazy and unsustainable, then you have passed the test and have some concept of money and finances. In other words, you will never make it to Congress. The events of last week have shed some light on the source of the problem.

The concept of a government shutdown is not that everything stops. Functions that are judged to be essential keep on going, and other functions lose their funding and cannot pay the employees. Last week I heard from a co-worker that her daughter, who mans the flight deck of an aircraft carrier to protect us, would not be paid due to the threatening shutdown. Apparently, national defense is not essential. At the same time, it was clear that the paychecks of the U.S. Congress and their offices would not be affected. They must be essential!

Some of our citizens have proposed a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

While I don’t agree with adding this principle as an amendment to the Constitution (not another law!), I believe that it should be an expectation. We need to elect representatives that will treat themselves no better than they treat other citizens. At one time this country sought to be independent from royalty, and now it appears that we have built our own.

I proposed that we insist on certified candidates for future elections of our representatives that make financial decisions. First, they must be certified to squirm when they see the national debt numbers. Second, they must be certified to be commoners, with no aspirations toward royalty. Perhaps then we won’t have to worry about out-of-control spending shutting down truly essential government functions.

Brad Ross is an engineer from Los Olivos. Please write to princentliv@gmail.com to share principles that affect your life, or to provide feedback.