Debt Ceiling Debate: A Night at the Theater

As the latest arbitrary deadline for raising the US government’s “debt ceiling” approaches, the two wings of America’s ruling party are increasingly desperate to pin blame on each other for the current political impasse and possibly impending default.

In dueling speeches last Monday night, US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner waxed eloquent, lecturing their American audience on concepts like “responsibility” and “obligation.” They were, however, both deliberately vague in their use of pronouns: Words like “we” and “our.”

That’s because behind their apparent divisions, Obama, Boehner and the parties they represent are as one in their desire to delude the rest of us into continuing to accept their “obligations” — the trillions of dollars they’ve borrowed already and trillions more to come — as our own.

And, of course, to delude their creditors into believing that that you and I are co-signers who will continue to pick up the check, in perpetuity, for the political class’s follies.

Politicians and creditors alike are united in cautioning all of us that “catastrophe” will follow any default by the government of the United States on its — wait, make that “our” — “obligations.”

Really? Catastrophe for whom?

You and I take it in the shorts no matter what happens.

For the better part of a century, we’ve “invested” — mostly at gunpoint — more of our wealth in political government than in any other single human activity. It was a poor investment. That wealth is gone, frittered away by politicians doing political things. We’ll be lucky to get any significant portion of it back: Pennies on the dollar if we liquidated the state’s physical assets, auctioned them off and found some way to equitably distribute the proceeds to the (surviving) “investors.”

In fact, political government is a less than zero sum game. It doesn’t just move wealth around, concentrating it in the hands of the political class, it actively works to destroy whatever wealth can’t be so concentrated. Every dollar you pay in taxes is turned against you by the regulatory state to reduce your ability to earn additional dollars.

Even if we abolished the state today, we’d have to write off quite a bit of wealth that’s just plain gone — thrown down a rathole, burned up in cockamamie schemes, never to return. Of course, every day we wait to do so, our loss grows.

But then, to top it all off, these jokers have been borrowing even more money in your name over the decades, assuring lenders that they’ll find a way to take that wealth, plus interest, out of your hide too … eventually.

The current episode of political theater — the “debt ceiling debate” — isn’t really about whether or not the politicians will “allow” themselves to borrow more money in your name. That’s no more in doubt than that a wino will drain that next bottle of Thunderbird … if he can get his hands on it.

It’s about that there aforementioned “eventually.”

It’s about whether or not you’ll continue to play your assigned role of “Mr. Moneybags.”

It’s about whether or not you’ll help the political class induce suspension of disbelief in its creditors.

It’s about whether or not you’ll vocally and convincingly beg the political class to continue milking you, shearing you, harnessing you and driving you.

It’s a really bad play. It’s enjoyed far too long a run on history’s stage. Isn’t it about time we walked out on it?

Citations to this article:

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist