Students came upon an odd sight early Tuesday morning on Ring Road in front of HIB. Twenty-two white plywood boards, each about two feet in width and five feet tall, were stacked side by side, each one with a digit painted in huge black numerals upon the board. The number showed our national debt: $14,274,932,083,176.01.
This protest was the latest endeavor of UC Irvine’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), and members of the group stood by their makeshift plywood “national debt clock” from morning until the afternoon in an effort to help the crowd visualize this mind-boggling number. They gathered petition signatures in the hopes of motivating congressman John Campbell to take action against the rising debt.
“The situation right now is that we are currently at $14 trillion of national debt and counting,” said Matt Eggleton, a freshman business information management major and YAL president.
“This number, many people don’t realize how big it is,” Eggleton continued. “But most of the Democrats and the Republicans are spending way too much and not taking it seriously. We are trying to petition our local congressman, John Campbell, to take action and take our debt more seriously as well as to try to get attention to this major issue. This debt is out of control.”
At the end of the day, the organization gathered over 100 signatures from students walking by their protest.
“As far as government spending, it’s completely out of control,” said Allison Heser, a fourth-year English major and one of the students who signed the petition. “I think that is detrimental to our society.”
According to YAL, the cause of the debt can be attributed to the current government continuing to fund unnecessary programs that people become dependant upon. Among some of the most expensive of these programs include Medicare, the military and other such conduits that tap significant amount of money from the government. YAL claims that while many of these projects are necessary, some simply do not need as much funding as they are receiving. In essence, YAL claims that lobby groups seek advantages from politicians, leading to more spending, while voters and the government are not taken as seriously. The club’s stance is to seek a smaller government with limited involvement and more responsible fiscal policies.
“This affects me,” claims YAL member Filip Sola, a fourth-year biology major. “What will end up happening is that in order to pay the debt off, the government is going to need to print money to pay it off. That means that there is going to be more money in the system, and there will be inflation.”
The Young Americans for Liberty was formed in 2008. Originally known as the Students for Ron Paul, an organization that campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul during the 2008 election, the YAL changed its name and became a student political group leaning towards libertarian views.
“We are liberty-minded individuals, and constitutionalists,” Eggleton said. “We’re trying to get limited government and good fiscal policies where we cut our debt and cut unneeded spending.”
The UCI chapter currently has 10 members, and the organization itself has over more than 170 chapters across the nation. Their efforts include hosting events that promote activism and awareness in order to motivate change in public policies.