A Modest Solution

by: Butler Shaffer

Governments in America – at both the state and federal level – are in an escalating state of bankruptcy. Politicians, media hacks, and academicians propose the kinds of responses reminiscent of the classic definition of insanity: to keep repeating the same actions expecting a different result. Increase income taxes, cut spending, enact a federal sales tax, tax “junk food” and tanning salons, are just a few of the suggestions being made by those intent on recycling political solutions to politically-generated problems.

At the center of all this is a national debt that has arisen from a basic truth that statists prefer to ignore: human beings are much less thrifty in spending other people’s money than they are with their own. Let me control your checkbook, and I will come up with a much different pattern of expenditures than you would have. We are much more generous with the lives and property of others, a state of mind upon which political systems depend for their existence.

We need to step outside the circle of our conditioned thinking and consider alternatives to our dilemmas. I have a modest proposal to offer to resolve the national debt: repudiate it! The reality is that, even after more extended wars and the formalization of slave-state efforts to avoid it, defaulting on this debt will become the ultimate solution. Leviathan, and its institutional keepers, will not curb its appetites, particularly when all that stands in its way are the always-expendable people.

I find support for my proposal in the thinking of the Keynesians, whose ideas most of us accepted, helping to produce our current state of affairs. My undergraduate introduction to the study of economics was firmly rooted in Keynesianism, whose tenets expressed what I assumed Thomas Carlyle meant in regarding this field of study as the “dismal science.” One of the frequently stated defenses of government debt was “we only owe it to ourselves.” It was only years later that I was to discover who the “ourselves” were to whom we were indebted. Such creditors proved to be the same gang who comprised “we, the people” in the creation of government in our country: the institutional interests who comprise the ruling political establishment.

If the idea that we “only owe [the debt] to ourselves” was sufficient to help generate popular acceptance of Keynesian doctrines, should not the repudiation of this debt be seen as a reasonable solution? After all, if I “owe” myself $100, would it make sense for me to contrive all kinds of mechanisms and schedules for repaying it? It is comparable to the kind of nonsense thinking one sees in advertising: “you owe it to yourself to” purchase a retailer’s product or services. If I failed to make this purchase, would I have a cause of action against myself grounded in negligence or breach of contract? Could I go to court and get a judgment against myself for my misfeasance? The proposition is so absurd that it could only be taken seriously in a law school!

To suggest that the national debt be repudiated will strike politically-conditioned minds as irresponsible.

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Reposted from LewRockwell.com