Iíve been struggling for weeks to come up with a good way to really describe whatís going on with the debt ceiling and I think Iíve finally done it.

Itís like this, you have a family of four, mom, dad, two kids. Oldest kid wants a dog. Not just any dog, but a $700 Siberian Husky. Oldest kid has a job, of sorts, but doesnít want to pay for the dog.

So mom and dad pay for the dog. Oldest kid now has the dog he wanted and is happy right? Wrong. Oldest kid doesnít want to actually take care of the dog, so little sister ends up doing the work of taking the

over-priced mutt out to do itís business and does all the work training it. This would logically mean this is líil sisí dog right? Wrong. Big Brother (get it?) keeps ownership of the dog gets to play with the mutt and does all the fun stuff while everyone else gets stuck with the bills and the hard work.

Sound familiar?

This is in many ways what weíre talking about with the whole debt ceiling debate weíve seen for the last few weeks. For years Congress, both houses and both sides, have been like that big brother ó they wanted the cute, expensive puppy, and they got it ó and weíre paying for it.

Then we come to 2011 and we suddenly have a few responsible adults (the Tea Party) in Congress, primarily in the House, who say ďyou wanted the puppy, we bought you the puppy, but you now need to take care of the puppy.Ē

The big brother-types have spent the last several weeks flipping out about this, of course, and screaming itís not their responsibility for either the purchase price of the puppy or its upkeep.

Whether the agreed-to debt ceiling deal will perform as advertised or not remains to be seen. Indeed as I write this, we donít even know if itís going to pass. What we do know is this, we as a country cannot continue to buy puppies we canít afford to pay for or take care of.

Our children and grandchildren will be paying the bills for entitlement programs we could never afford. We are the most prosperous, and we at least used to be the freest nation the world has ever seen, this will not be the case within the next 20 years if we do not get our financial house in order.

Just as a familyís prosperity is hobbled by debt, so the trillions of dollars weíve racked up in the last few decades is a stone around the neck of American prosperity.

No one is suggesting we throw seniors off Social Security, nor that we even deny it to those who are about to retire. Same with Medicare and Medicaid ó but Iím here to tell you, I donít expect it to be there in 25 or 30 years when Iím ready to retire and I know it wonít be there when my kids are ready to retire.

Whatís really sad is itís still like pulling teeth to get anyone in Washington D.C. to acknowledge that we cannot continue to afford the government we have. Itís worth noting we have a 2011 budget of about $3.8 trillion and revenues of about $2.3 trillion ó with a national debt approaching $14 trillion. In other words we have to borrow another $1.5 trillion in order to just pay the bills ó and yet we keep hearing

how we canít cut spending.

Folks, we have no choice. We cannot sustain this spending. A 15 percent across-the-board budget cut would eliminate $570 billion in spending. Thatís a good place to start.

Then lets go looking for agencies and programs which are either redundant or out-dated and eliminate those as well. The president loves to talk about ďhaving skin in the game,Ē and

ďshared sacrifice.Ē I have news for Mr. Obama, we all already have skin in the game, and if we donít get spending under control weíll all be sacrificing more than we ever thought we would.

The Big Brotherís puppy has piddled on the floor. Itís time to clean up after him one last time ó and then take the puppy to the pound.

All IMHO, of course.

(Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Columbus Advocate and the Baxter Springs News. He can be emailed at editorial@columbusdailyadv.com)