Shall We Be Debt-Slaves?
Hamlet called Polonius, father of his girlfriend and the king’s adviser, a “tedious old fool.” And maybe he was, but Bill Shakespeare had wisdom to spare, and lavished some good advice on the lips of that fool:
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
King Solomon warned, more alarmingly:
A borrower is slave to a lender.
You Are a Slave. I Am a Slave.
Americans have become slaves to our national debtors. You are a slave. I am a slave. Our children walk about in bonds that make those worn by Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol look like paper chains cut up and pasted together in kindergarten. The National Debt has become so huge the number seems beyond comprehension, like the infinite kalpas in Hindu cosmology: more than $28 trillion dollars.
Let us make that more meaningful. You now owe America’s lenders some $84,000. If you are a family of four, make that $336,000. How much do you have in the bank? What is your house worth? If you don’t have the money to pay your portion of that colossal debt, go ask your neighbor if he minds paying his portion, plus yours. First make sure his dog is on its leash.
This is not money you had to sign for. Your elected representatives in Washington, DC signed on your behalf. Ronald Reagan compared the politicians of his era to drunken sailors. Now they are addicted to speed and crack. In Reagan’s era, our national debt was about 50% of Gross National Product: now it lies north of 130%. (Even though defense spending has decreased dramatically.)
Or compare American debt to that of other nations. As of 2017 or so, according to a list of the public debt of 199 nations, only five countries had greater per capita public debt than the United States: Lebanon, Italy, Greece, Sudan, and Japan. (In increasing amounts.) The first four, needless to say, are economic basket cases. Japan has lain in the doldrums for 30 years.
Light a Fire!
Now drive to the bank. Take out thirteen crisp $100 bills. Place them in a small pile in your backyard. Go get some marshmallows and a stick. Pile kindling on top of those bills, and light a fire. If you have a family of four, make it fifty-two $100 bills, and break out the hotdogs. You’re burning up your portion of interest on the National Debt for this year: money for nothing. Better build a firepit, or next year, you might burn the house down. (Not that you own it, anyway.)
Politicians’ Suicidal Impulses for America
Now what do our brilliant politicians propose to do about this crisis?
Joe Biden wants to spend $6 trillion more on “infrastructure.” (Bribes to voters that his party’s scare-mongering about “racism” somehow hasn’t won over yet.) That’s $18,000 for you, and $18,000 for me. That’s after Joe and Kamala and their enablers in Congress already threw $2 trillion out of airplanes, even though America had already recovered from the COVID crisis. Because making us the brokest slaves in the history of Planet Earth is not enough for these drunken sailors.
So the GOP must be fighting tooth and nail to stop this plan, right? Well, they do propose we drink a cup of coffee after the orgy, to sober up, and maybe stop deficit spending in 10 years, after they’re safely out of office. That’s their “negotiating position.” Maybe it will turn out to be 10,000 years.
Even at the National Review, Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox concede:
“There is considerable support for a new beginning, even if it takes massive federal spending.”
The assumption seems to be that conservatives dare only pander to America’s most suicidal impulses.
We Must Hate Our Children
To be honest, I did not wish to write this article. I hate making people depressed, especially myself. It is a beautiful day in June. My peonies and roses are in bloom. Hiking season has begun. COVID restrictions are lifting, and I just finished a new book. I hope your life is happy. If your hope lies in politicians or the American people, your life is built upon sand, and you need to find a firmer foundation.
But Lord, how we must hate our children. It is not enough that we abort so many. Nor is it enough that so many of us fail to commit to one another before giving birth, or divorce soon after, and the poor little blighters never know both parents well. Now we saddle them with an enormous weight of debt from the cradle. And for what? The economy is not in crisis. We are not at war. No earthquake has occurred. Joe Biden simply thinks William Shakespeare and Solomon are wrong. We should gamble our future on some bastardized version of Keynesian economics, funneling yet more money through their allies and dependents in the federal government.
Please write your congress-critter. Ask her to spend her own money, not yours. (Or mine.) Remember how she responds, when you get to the polls next time. I should probably say, “Be polite.” But not too polite.
David Marshall, Ph.D., is the author of Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels, and How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test: The Inside Story.