The Immorality of Government Debt

At Wednesday’s debate Mitt Romney said something I never thought I’d hear him say – or, indeed, hear anyone in government say:

LEHRER: … Governor Romney, you — you go first because the president went first on segment one. And the question is this, what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?

ROMNEY: Good. I’m glad you raised that, and it’s a — it’s a critical issue. I think it’s not just an economic issue, I think it’s a moral issue. I think it’s, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives.

And the amount of debt we’re adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral…

One could almost leap and shout for joy.

It has been growing on my mind – for some time now – that it is not right for any government agency to have debt.  You see, when the government creates debt what it does is deny to future generations the right to make their own decisions.  As a true democrat, I refuse to bow to the tyranny of those who merely happen to be walking around at the time – I pay heed to those who are dead (ie, I revere tradition) as well as have consideration for those who are yet to be born (I won’t, if I can help it, make things more difficult for them by engaging in idiocy today).  Many of those who are walking around right now want all sorts of things which we cannot afford; and even those who want higher taxes still want even more spending than even the higher taxes would cover.  Anyone who wants anything which cannot be paid for out of current accounts is reaching in to the future and acting as a most tyrannical dictator.  People not yet born may want to expend their collective tax dollars on Project X but they won’t be able to because we, before they were born, spent their tax dollars on Project Y.  Is that in any way fair?

You can try to dress it up and say “well, true we’re mortgaging their future but we’re also providing them this wonderful thing”.  But suppose when the future arrives they don’t consider it all that wonderful?  Suppose even if it were wonderful they’d yet rather have something else?  Who are you, current person, to deny them their choice?

The future does not belong to us – the day after you vote to increase the debt on persons yet unborn you may well die.  You’re not there – you can’t convince anyone tomorrow, you can only deal with today.  Today we may have X amount of dollars to spend and it is up to us, by applying our wisdom, to figure out how to spend them and once we run out, that is the end of the matter.  You can try to hike taxes to get a bit more but everyone knows that after a while high tax rates have a diminishing return (even liberals know this – so ultra-liberal Governor Jerry Brown just extended lower tax rates for Hollywood…because he knows that if Hollywood were hit with a higher tax rate, Hollywood would move out of California and so California would get nothing…the pity, though, is that liberals won’t apply this to all spheres of economic activity…guess it helps if you can throw a swank, Beverly Hills party).  But no matter how you slice it, there isn’t an endless supply of money – there is just so much and then there is no more.  And there is the additional fact that no matter what we do there will never be enough money to satisfy all the wants – some will have to be set aside.  To borrow to meet wants is just criminal cruelty – and an undemocratic assault upon future generations.

Right now we are so jammed up with debt that we won’t be able to get out of it for quite a while but it is to be hoped that we are learning our lesson – and Mitt Romney’s statement at the debate shows that he, at least, is far ahead on the learning curve.  Much further ahead than Obama and his Democrats.  We have to balance our budget, pay our debt off and then never borrow another red cent.

Want a social program?  Pay for it out of current accounts.  Want a new road?  Pay for it out of current accounts.  Want to fight a war?  Pay for it out of current accounts.  And if there isn’t enough money for it, then  you’d just better not do it.  Its the only moral thing to do.

18 thoughts on “The Immorality of Government Debt

  1. Amazona October 8, 2012 / 12:44 pm

    I agree, I was also happy to hear Romney address this issue.

    But I was bothered by the movement back and forth between debt and deficit. Yes, the deficit adds to the debt, but I would have preferred an answer specific to the deficit, which would be specific to restraining spending to income.

    I don’t know if semantic drift is caused by a casual attitude toward definitions, or lack of understanding, but it can create all sorts of problems. Debt and deficit are not one and the same: Natural born citizen and native born citizen are not one and the same. When one word is freely substituted for another, it can become part of the accepted lexicon and make it much harder to sort things out.

    I heard the question to address, specifically, the deficit, and would have preferred a response geared, specifically, to the deficit–with a summary at the end, perhaps, about ongoing deficits adding to the national debt, which is a moral issue but a result of the fiscal recklessness of deficit spending.

    Quibbling, perhaps, but clarity is not a bad thing.

    • Amazona October 8, 2012 / 12:46 pm

      Mark, you address the difference when you say “We have to balance our budget, pay our debt off ….”

      Balance the budget—-eliminate the deficit
      Pay our debt off—–pay off the money we had to borrow because we did not have a balanced budget that linked spending to income

      • neocon1 October 8, 2012 / 1:03 pm

        we are BANKRUPT, and unable to do either, Ochimpy has simple pushed our inevitable financial cliff up by 10-20 years.

      • Amazona October 8, 2012 / 1:22 pm

        I don’t agree that we can’t balance our budget, which is after all the same thing as not having a deficit. We can’t do it in one year, or even five, but we can, if we are committed and steadfast, get it done.

        The debt is a bigger nut to crack, but a balanced no-deficit budget, reasonable regulation that is not related to social engineering experiments, a lower corporate tax rate, a lower overall income tax rate and/or a restructuring of our tax system, and restriction of federal size and power will all contribute to a much healthier economy with more net tax revenue, which can be applied to a no-longer-growing debt.

        I don’t have a problem with having some national debt. It is, after all, mostly in the form of treasury bonds, and this is a way to allow people to invest in their country while providing some revenue to the nation. It’s having such massive debt that the debt service alone adds to the debt that cripples us.

      • neocon1 October 8, 2012 / 1:44 pm


  2. Amazona October 8, 2012 / 3:04 pm

    OT but I understand that children are being asked to beg their parents to vote for Obama because Romney wants to kill Big Bird.

    It reminded me of this classic:

    If you don't buy this magazine we'll kill this dog

    • neocon1 October 8, 2012 / 3:39 pm

      Romney wants to kill Big Bird.

      Thats why I Love Romney, big bird is a communist………(sarcasm)

  3. Retired Spook October 9, 2012 / 11:21 am

    Let’s frame the consequences of the federal debt in terms that the Left always loves to talk about. Interest on the federal debt for FY2012 was $360 billion, an obscene and immoral number in and of itself. At $50,000/year, that would hire over 7 million teachers, firefighters and police.

    • M. Noonan October 9, 2012 / 12:43 pm

      What is astounding is that the interest on the debt is now larger than even the large deficits the left complained about during Bush’s term…

      • Retired Spook October 9, 2012 / 1:11 pm

        And guess what happens if interest rate go up a percent or two. A big bucket full of not good.

      • Amazona October 9, 2012 / 3:46 pm

        I commented on this a few weeks ago, Spook, saying that the Fed had to keep interest rates down to keep the nation from tumbling into bankruptcy.

        That was the first proof of the Fed being a political tool, even before QE Infinity was put into play, in a last-ditch effort to prop up the economy, or at least the figures, to help Barry out.

        Mark, I like your observation about the interest now being larger than the entire Bush deficit—it helps put things into perspective.

        You know what the Libs are studiously NOT discussing? The fact that the latest Quantitative Easing has no time limit and no dollar limit.

      • Retired Spook October 9, 2012 / 5:05 pm

        You know what the Libs are studiously NOT discussing? The fact that the latest Quantitative Easing has no time limit and no dollar limit.

        And no results; and there won’t be any either — well, at least not any positive results.

      • tiredoflibbs October 9, 2012 / 5:32 pm

        You are right Mark.

        Then Senator obAMATEUR called Bush’s added debt irresponsible and UNPATRIOTIC!!!

        The cries from the left were constant with “saddling our children and grand-children” with debt.

        And hypocritically and predictably, they are all silent now.

      • neocon1 October 9, 2012 / 5:39 pm

        as they are with the daily body count………the MSM is truly the enemy of the people (except marxists)

      • Mark Noonan October 9, 2012 / 7:54 pm

        Inflation is already crushing the fixed-income elderly (you might note the number of oldsters you see out working these days) as well as working as punishing, soak-the-poor scheme which, in a very real sense, takes money out of the pockets of the working poor and gives it to the bankers. All of this, of course, in line with the most advanced, liberal economic thinking…its what they do because round about 100 years ago an idiot decreed that any sort of spending – even of borrowed or fake money – is good.

        With QEInfinity this will only get worse – as we’re heading in to recession (really, I think we’re already there), we’re going to get a dose of Carter era “stagflation” before too long.

      • neocon1 October 10, 2012 / 8:05 am

        Our gasoline bills have gone from @ $250.00 a month to OVER $850.00.

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