State of the Union: No, Nick, Your Children Owe Nothing

Hundreds (RGBStock)

Nicholas Sarwark is father to four pre-teen children. In his response to the State of the Union, delivered on behalf of the Libertarian Party (which he serves as national chair), he mentions that each of them are in debt to the tune of $70,633. “Not because we gave them credit cards to go buy cars,” he explains, but “because politicians in Washington have a credit card called the national debt.”

I don’t disagree with Nick — whom I’ve known for about 20 years — very often. On this subject, however, I do so vehemently.

No, Nick, your children don’t owe $70,633 each to the US government’s creditors. Nor do you or your wife Valerie. Nor do I. Nor does anyone reading this column who’s not a current or former president, vice-president, or member of Congress.

The only people who owe the $23 trillion “national debt” are the people who borrowed the money.

You didn’t borrow the money. They did.

You didn’t co-sign the loan. You didn’t negotiate the interest rates or other terms.

Yes, they offered your future income and your children’s future income as collateral, but that income wasn’t theirs to offer. You weren’t even consulted, except to the extent that 25% or so of you (on average) voted for one or more of the borrowers, most of whom lied to you about exercising “fiscal discipline” if elected.

And their creditors knew that, making them loan sharks by proxy. How else to describe someone who loans money on the borrowers’ promise to go beat it — principal plus interest — out of non-consenting third parties?

No one in his or her right mind believes the “national debt” will ever be paid off. It’s too big, it’s growing too fast, and it represents too large a chunk of American wealth and production.

Sooner or later, in one way or another, the US government will default. The politicians who borrow the money and the speculators who loan it to them are both engaged in a long-term game of musical chairs, hoping that the music won’t stop before they retire, die, or cash out at a profit.

When the music does stop, it’s going to get ugly for all of us. But the longer the music continues, the uglier that final note.

The good news is that after the default, the politicians’ credit card will be declined for some time to come, perhaps teaching them to live within their ample means.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Election 2020: The State of the Union is Screwed Up Vote Pencil

As I write this, US president Donald Trump has yet to deliver his 2020 State of the Union address. For two reasons, we don’t have to wait for that speech, or for the Democratic response, to discuss the state of the union.

First, we know that he’ll say what presidents always say (the state of the union is strong, etc., because of his policies) and that the Democratic response will be the standard opposition party response (the state of the union would be better if we were in charge).

Second, we neither need, nor can we trust, Trump or Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer to truthfully and accurately advise us as to the state of the union. Politicians lie, and the landscape around us is littered with evidence from which we can form our own, more well-informed, opinions.

Two such pieces of evidence  — one from each “major” political party — stand out this very week.

First, the Republican Party is in the process of formally ratifying the principle of fuhrerprinzip: “Complete and total authority is vested in the Fuehrer [leader] …. The authority of the Fuehrer is not limited by checks and controls, by special autonomous bodies or individual rights, but it is free and independent, all-inclusive and unlimited.”

This ratification is evident not only in the impending vote to acquit Trump versus an air tight impeachment case, but in the results of the 2020 Republican Iowa caucuses: 97% of participants supported Trump versus all opponents, in spite of the fact that his misrule militates against virtually every principle the GOP pretended to stand for as recently as three years ago.

Second, the Democratic Party is in disarray — not just technically, as evidenced by its inability to count Iowa caucus votes in a timely manner,  but over the wrenching dilemma between offering America the status quo (a “moderate” candidate like Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg) or the status quo on steroids ( a “progressive” candidate like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren) this November.

If the state of the union depends on partisan politics to secure Americans’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it looks like we’re screwed.  Those things aren’t on credible offer from either “major” party.

The Republicans offer us enslavement to their three-year-old cult of personality; the Democrats, enslavement to their octogenarian  cult of bureaucracy. Flip a coin. Heads, authoritarianism wins; tails, freedom loses.

Or vote Libertarian and win a free country.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.