Thursday, February 28, 2013

Two other Toms on the Instant Situation


"Current U.S. fiscal policy, including the recently concluded 'fiscal cliff' debt deal," writes Jagadeesh Gokale at the Cato Institute, "is placing an enormous financial burden on today'’s children and on future generations in order to deliver government benefits to current middle-aged workers and their elders." Or to put it a different way, as he does in the title of the piece, "We Are Bankrupting Future Generations."

That's a fairly common theme among libertarian commentators when it comes to government spending and government debt. For example, in a column last week, 2012 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee James P. Gray asserted that "[o]ur children will have to shoulder our debt during the rest of their lives ..."

Problem is, it just ain't so. I'm not saying that by way of supporting government indebtedness, but just because it's a fact. A couple of quotes from other eminent personages also named "Thomas" make it clear why:

As we are not to live for ever ourselves, and other generations are to follow us, we have neither the power nor the right to govern them, or to say how they shall govern themselves. -- Thomas Paine, Dissertations On Government; the Affairs of the Bank; and Paper Money

and ...

I suppose that the received opinion, that the public debts of one generation devolve on the next, has been suggested by our seeing habitually in private life that he who succeeds to lands is required to pay the debts of his ancestor or testator, without considering that this requisition is municipal only, not moral, flowing from the will of the society which has found it convenient to appropriate the lands become vacant by the death of their occupant on the condition of a paiment of his debts; but that between society and society, or generation and generation there is no municipal obligation, no umpire but the law of nature. We seem not to have perceived that, by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independant nation to another. -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison

It's true that "we're bankrupting our CHILDREN!!!!!" makes for a pretty good propaganda line in a policy fight.

But I think it's more practical to address those who continue investing, through the purchase of government bonds, in the debts run up by Obama, Reid, Boehner et. al. and let them know that the likelihood of making their money back over the long haul passed "slim" quite some time back and as of now is right at "none."

Sooner or later -- probably much sooner than most people think -- that debt is going to be defaulted upon and repudiated. There is no "if" involved, only an unspecified "when." Heck, it may even be this generation! Regardless of when the when is, one thing is certain: You don't want to be holding T-Bills when it arrives.

Of course, none of us -- except for those who are or have been among the 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the 100 members of the US Senate, and the President of the United States --  have any obligation whatsoever to pick up the ObamaReidBoehner check.

But that's especially and doubly true of future generations of Americans who've never yet taken, nor yet been asked to take, any part in the "consent of the governed" charade that supposedly "legitimizes" enslaving them to pay for Nancy Pelosi's airplane rides and Lindsay Graham's theatrical productions.
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