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A Mountain Of Debt

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Three weeks ago today Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The good news: power's back on in a lot of places. The bad news: well, it's impossible to know where to start.

President Bush gave a speech in which he promised a rebuilding effort the likes of which has not been seen since World War II, at which point plenty of people wondered, "and you're going to pay for this how, exactly?" We hear there will be no new taxes, but you gotta wonder, how a country pays for wars and reconstruction from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Gulf Coast without ever having to actually see the bill.

My dad was a dour Dutch man who never made it past eighth grade. He worked two jobs most of his life to support eight kids, and never bought a thing on credit. The only long term debt he carried was the mortgage on our house. I know that kind of thinking is old fashioned but his example has served me well. There's an amazing freedom that comes when you're not carrying a mountain of debt on your back. I've got to believe those same lessons could apply to a whole country.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith

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