Fools Fighting In A Burning House

This should give you reason to be concerned. Or at least terrified. After all, that’s quite a bill. And it’s yours. Yes, each and every U.S. Taxpayer needs to cough up nearly one million one hundred thousand dollars in order to fund the our current financial commitments to medicare and social security. Have fun with that.

Current national debt will reach eighteen trillion dollars by Thanksgiving this year. For those who still think we live in a liberal democracy, ask yourselves when you voted for that.

What’s more, there is no one coming to save us. The coming collapse will make all the other self-inflicted financial crisis in the past one hundred fifty years look like a missed JC Penney card payment.

Eighteen trillion dollars. It doesn’t even seem real, but it is because all capital must be converted from labor. By some estimates, our current financial commitments top one hundred forty trillion dollars. Do you seriously think we can generate enough hours of labor over the next twenty-five years to generate that kind of capital. Yet our politicians continue to kick this problem down the road. Because the solutions are either two painful to bear, or simply impractical.

Never-the-less the solutions stare us in the face.

Solution One: Devalue our currency. How much money does the United States have? As much as the unholy alliance between the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve say it does, because our medium of exchange is all electronic. Congress could order the Secretary of the Treasury to issue additional currency to cover the national debt, and in a few strokes of the keyboard, problem solved… until the next fiscal year. The side effect of course will be massive inflation – yes, the national debt is covered, but the dollar you held yesterday is now worth a fraction of its former value today. The result, will be a massive financial collapse.

Solution Two: Default on the national debt. This is the most likely scenario as it will require no action from any politician. Our rulers by and large hate pro-active solutions because anything they do makes them vulnerable. Ronald Reagan could have saved a baby from a burning building and Tip O’Neil would have cursed him for the soot on the baby’s face. Further, defaulting has several precedents throughout history. The rest of the world just doesn’t expect the United States to do it. The second and third order effects would be a downgrading in our bond rating (maybe that would not be such a bad thing if one is a cranky libertarian), and of course a world-wide financial collapse, accompanied by a ramping up of our current conflict with China. I don’t think the Chinese have the stomach to escalate the current cyber war to a conventional war, but as the world’s largest holder of U.S. securities they would retaliate in some fashion.

Solution Three: Enslave the populace to pay off the national debt. Completely impractical given the that pesky Second Amendment. The ensuing civil war would be worse than anything we could imagine, and would only hurry along the financial collapse.

The only real solution that does not involve a complete financial collapse would require a Roman Republic-level of discipline. Cut the Federal civilian workforce by 10% a year, including contractors. Cut the military workforce by 10% a year, including contractors. Remember, the largest expense of any government is payroll. Bring every serviceman from overseas home. Yes, let China have their hemisphere. Japan will be fine. Korea, maybe not, but some things we may just have to live with. Let the Chinese bankrupt themselves by maintaining their hegemony over their part of the Asian continent and pacific rim, but kick them our of the Canal Zone. Let Russia have Europe for all I care. Again, let them bankrupt themselves trying to maintain it. Seal the Southern boarder. Open up Federal lands to drilling and natural gas extraction. Open up the California and Florida coast for drilling. I know the oil and gas platforms will ruin the views for people who paid a million dollars or more for their 30th floor Miami condo. Too bad. Take every Federal law and regulation and delete 90% of the verbiage. You will effect no one’s life. No one that matters, anyway. End all government funding for higher education. The creme will rise to the top. There’s more, but you get the idea. The problem with this solution, is that while it may be the most desirable, is is by far the least practical given the all the lobbyists and special interest groups – a thousand headed monster – Who make their influence felt.

Which tragically, brings us back to Solution Number Two. Pass the popcorn, this is going to be interesting.

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About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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4 Responses to Fools Fighting In A Burning House

  1. Dave says:

    Interesting ideas.
    I just came across your blog and this was the first article I read.
    Pretty scary situation; hard choices.

  2. Jeanne says:

    Most people don’t understand the difference between million, billion, and trillion. So when they hear that the national debt is trillions, they just don’t get it. Here’s a good way to put it in perspective:
    1 million seconds ago is 2 weeks ago.
    1 billion seconds ago is 1984.
    1 trillion seconds ago is 29,000 years BC.
    You can fact check this, but I think it’s pretty close and gets the point across.
    Your writing (and way of thinking) is great, by the way.
    Thank you!

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