The world’s political elites sound a lot like Chicken Little lately as Greece’s regime heads into what looks like full-scale default and Puerto Rico’s governor publicly mulls bankruptcy proceedings.
Lots of other governments continuously teeter on the edge of that same abyss, not least that of the United States. Given current tax and spending trends, by 2020 the US government’s accrued debt will exceed $23 trillion (more than the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product) and half of all tax revenues will go toward interest on that debt.
Apropos of which, let me quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”
The whole idea of “national debt” is poppycock and propaganda.
Suppose I’m perpetually short on cash, and so every week I break into your house and rob you at gunpoint. But I always need $200 and you usually only have $100 on you. So I go to the local loan shark every week and borrow the other $100 from him, on the supposition that I’ll keep on robbing you weekly forever and that sooner or later either you will cough up more money or I will need less, so the loan shark will get paid back.
Question: Are you in any way morally responsible for my debt?
Answer: Not even a little.
What I just described is government finance in a nutshell, stripped of the propaganda. You’re no more morally responsible for the real debts the politicians run up in your name than you are for the hypothetical debt I ran up in your name in my little story.
If anyone tries to tell you that “we” owe $18 trillion to the US government’s creditors, ask him who this “we” is. Does he have a mouse in his pocket or something?
If anyone tells you that “your share” of the “national debt” is approaching $60k, demand to see the promissory notes proving that you co-signed the politicians’ loans.
In the real world, nobody actually believes that the US national debt will ever be paid off. Today’s politicians and those who loan them money are just hoping you’ll keep picking up their tab until they can retire and stick some future generation with the check.
The politicians can’t be counted upon to repudiate their debts. But the rest of us can and should do in their stead. “We” don’t owe them anything.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
- “‘National Debt’ is a Scam. Repudiate it.” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 07/06/15
- “‘National Debt’ is a scam. Repudiate it.” by Thomas L. Knapp, Muscatine, Iowa Journal, 07/07/15
- “Taxpayers should not be held liable for national debt,” by Thomas L. Knapp, California Political Review, 07/11/15