For someone who is economically illiterate like myself, it always helps to have an article like this one that makes its case in a very simple way. This pretty short article outlines how we are all scammed by the Federal Reserve. Like the other factors that lie behind the conditions of this country, and indeed, the world, such as peak oil and climate change, the financial situation does not appear to be sustainable (indeed, won't be in the long term), but has a tenacious ability to ensure that "business as usual" continues on an indefinite basis. We may think to ourselves that it will fall apart, but for the near-term anyway, it keeps on going.
Anyway, read the article and you will come away with at least two basic points on why our debt has spiraled as badly out of control as it has. My only points of contention with the article is the assumption behind it, that somehow the government can do a better job of managing our debt and the money supply than the Fed has. Yes, our own Constitution gives the Congress the power to coin money and regulate its value, and that power has been usurped by the Federal Reserve, an unaccountable, private corporation. But would our government have done a better job? I'm not sure that it would. Throughout history, you can find examples of governments debasing their own currencies for one reason or another. And keeping the value of our currency pegged to a commodity (such as gold) results in big variations in the supply of money. So, upon reading what I just wrote, the point of contention that I have may seem like a pretty major one, but I still agree with the article's main argument that the Fed has done a bad job with managing the money supply, or a good job (depending on who you are and where you stand).