By Richie Beeler

I love America. I lover her history and the principles on which she was founded. I fly her flag every day, rain or shine. But lately, it’s been raining in America. And a much bigger storm is coming.

You probably heard quite a bit about a so-called “fiscal cliff” America could be facing in 2013 if Congress and the President didn’t come to a consensus about several key budgetary issues. So far very little consensus has been reached. But we don’t seem to have careened over any cliff. That’s because the REAL fiscal cliff is one folks in Washington simply don’t want to talk about.

America is headed for a financial Armageddon. Not a recession. Not even a depression. I’m talking about the end of the American free market capitalist system as we have always known it. This is not a prediction of doom and gloom. This is an unavoidable scenario. The train has left the station. And she’s a runaway.

I’m not an economist. But I do read Adam Smith. It’s ok if that name doesn’t immediately ring a bell. Smith was not an American founding father. He was not even an American. But he did write a book – in 1776 ironically – entitled “The Wealth of Nations.” In it he laid out the basis for what would become the Western free market capitalist economy.

Smith understood that capitalism, unlike socialism, plays to the strongest forces of human nature in order to succeed. It is the philosophy that society is best served by the efforts of individuals to better themselves. When such a principle is applied to economics, capitalism is born. Unfortunately, as with anything that is dependent on human nature, capitalism has a dark side. It’s called greed.

The same desire for personal success and betterment that drives the capitalist economic machine, can also be its undoing when that desire turns to an insatiable lust for more. If free market capitalism has a downside, that is it. Here’s how it works, and why America is headed for disaster.

It is a complex issue but the simple facts of it are these: free market capitalist economies are dependent upon the free flow of money in order to survive. They are also dependent upon growth. When a capitalist economy stops growing, money stops flowing, jobs stop being created, and the whole machine stops working. The problem is that many of the world’s Western economies (i.e. America) have grown so large that they do not have the resources to keep growing….without borrowing. The exponential growth of the American economy over the past 20 years has been almost entirely driven by debt.

When you build economic growth on debt, a bubble starts to form. Debt has to be paid back. And the more debt that is out there, the more risk there is that a portion of that debt will not or cannot be paid back. For that reason a major debt bubble burst in 2008 when the mortgage and housing market collapsed. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that the economic crash of 2008, which plunged this country into the greatest recession since the Great Depression, will pale in comparison to the coming collapse of the American economy.

It is coming. It may be coming soon. And it will be swift. The condition of Western economies, particularly that of the United States, is simply unsustainable. By the friendliest of estimations, America is approximately $16 trillion in debt. If you have even the slightest understanding of what I just said, the scariest word in that statement ought to be the word “approximately.” Because the fact is the debt of the American government is so out of control that we are now approximating trillions.

Just a question: Do you have any idea how much a trillion is? It’s a big number. It’s a really big number. Heck to most of us a million is a big number. Most of us will never see a million dollars that belongs to us in our lifetime. A million dollars is a lot of money to us. But do you know the difference between a million and a trillion? Oh yeah, its a bunch of zeroes. Let me try to explain it to you by using a little illustration involving time.

A million seconds is eleven days. That’s a lot of seconds. It would definitely take up a good deal of your time – eleven days to be exact – to sit and count off a million seconds. But here’s the difference between a million and a trillion: a trillion seconds is 30,000 years. Yeah, that’s right, do the math if you can. Now do this math: America is 16 of those in debt.

Fortunately for us, all the nations and entities we owe still accept American dollars as the world standard form of payment. And where do we get the dollars we use to pay them? Tax the rich? Nope. Cut wasteful spending? Wrong again. Know where we get them? We print them. That’s right. In order to keep up with our exploding national debt, America has simply printed more money.

The scheme has worked. For now. But understand, it is little more than a government-backed Ponzi scheme. If the day comes – and it certainly could – when the world decides to stop taking our increasingly worthless dollars, America’s economy will collapse. That will be a real fiscal cliff.

And a mighty tough fall to survive.