Against Government Debt

Thomas Jefferson's favorite economist had some harsh things to say about government borrowing

The last time the debt-ceiling controversy arose, it occurred to me that if the raising the "ceiling" is a mere formality—if in fact the sky's the limit to government borrowing—it's no ceiling at all. Hence, I dubbed this charade the "debt sky." 

Those who favor automatic increases in the "limit"—or no limit at all—give the game away when they argue that the borrowing authority must be increased because the full faith and credit of the United States is on the line. After all, they say, the money is needed to pay bills already incurred, not for new spending. Obama makes this claim routinely, as though the case for raising the limit is open and shut.

Who knows if that is true? But if it is, think about what it means. Congress has been incurring bills the payment of which depends on a future increase in the debt limit that theoretically could be rejected. It's bad enough that Congress can incur financial obligations under the statutory authority to borrow; it's intolerable that Congress can incur financial obligations based on a possible but not certain future expansion of its authority to borrow. This is truly government run amok.  

You and I can't force banks to raise our credit-card limits merely because we have bills to pay. Why should Congress be able to do the equivalent? The road to fiscal responsibility would begin with an end to this practice. Better yet, no more raising of the debt limit—cut spending and live within the current limit. And even better: No more borrowing. Government borrowing is a source of many evils, not least of which is that for decades it made big government appear cheaper than it is. Could the federal government spend nearly $4 trillion a year if it had to raise every penny through taxation? Unlikely. A tax revolt would have been ignited. But let the government borrow a trillion dollars a year, more than 40 cents of every dollar spent, and government looks relatively inexpensive—or it did before things got so out of hand that everyone could see the looming danger. Most people pay no attention to how much interest the government must pay each year to its creditors, but interest payments have been running at over $400 billion a year. December's payment alone was $95.7 billion.

That money represents resources that were previously diverted from the productive private sector to the government for purposes chosen by politicians looking out for their careers. The interest payment goes back into the private sector, but since government continues to borrow to pay its debts, it's still taking resources from the productive sector. Also, when the Federal Reserve buys up government debt, it remits the interest (minus overhead) to the Treasury. Such interest-free borrowing might make credit look inexpensive, except for the fact that the Fed creates money when it buys the debt, which threatens potential price inflation, an implicit tax on the people's cash balances, distorts relative prices,and depresses interest rates, skewing investment decisions.

The American people were not always so tolerant of government debt. It was expected to be the exception in an emergency, not the rule, but bad economic theory enthusiastically embraced by self-serving politicians changed all that. It became fashionable to say, "What's to worry about? We owe it to ourselves." 

Thomas Jefferson's favorite economist, Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836), had some harsh things to say about government borrowing, and we'd do well to rediscover Tracy's wisdom. In 1817 the Frenchman Tracy published a book on economic principles, which Jefferson liked so much, he oversaw its translation into English as A Treatise on Political Economy. Like many economists of his day, Tracy understood that the free market was a process rooted in human action, with which government spending interfered. And he grasped that such spending is not investment, the politicians' self-serving statements notwithstanding, but rather consumption, which deprives the private sector of scarce resources that would have been used to raise living standards.

Yet Tracy was willing to ask, "When [government] expenses are very considerable, ought we to felicitate ourselves on being able to meet them by loans, rather than taxes?" He thought not.  

Borrowing appears to be a voluntary form of funding government, but Tracy wrote that "this an illusion [because the lenders] force the government to raise, one day or other, a sum equal to that which they furnish and to the interest which they demand for it. Thus, by their obligingness, they burthen without their consent not only the citizens actually existing, but also future generations...." 

Such burdening of people yet to be born offended Tracy, and he proposed that "whatsoever is decreed by any legislature whatsoever, their successors can always modify, change, annul; and that it should be solemnly declared, that in future this salutary principle shall be applied, as it ought to be, to the engagements which a government may make with money lenders. By this the evil would be destroyed in its root: for capitalists, having no longer any guarantee, would no longer lend." 

There, indeed, was a balanced-budget rule with force! 

Next Tracy addressed the claim that the borrowed money would have remained idle, hence there was no opportunity cost in the state's using it. To this he responded: "It is certain that if the [lenders] had not lent it their money they would have lent it to industrious men. From that time these industrious men would have had greater capitals to work on." Unlike government spending, private investment in a free market would raise living standards in accordance with consumer preferences.

Finally, he took on the assertion that loans "furnish in a moment enormous sums, which could only have been very slowly procured by means of taxes, even the most overwhelming." He looked on this "pretended advantage as the greatest of all evils." In other words, because borrowing gives politicians access to huge sums of money that they could not acquire through taxation, it should be forbidden.

To those who claim that the danger of borrowing lies only its abuse, Tracy had this reply: "First, that the abuse is inseparable from the use, and experience proves it... I maintain that the evil is not in the abuse; but in the use itself of loans, that is to say that the abuse and the use are one and the same thing; and that every time a government borrows it takes a step towards its ruin. The reason of this is simple: A loan may be a good operation for an industrious man, whose consumption reproduces with profit. By means of the sums which he borrows, he augments this productive consumption [investment]; and with it his profits. But a government which is a consumer of the class of those whose consumption is sterile and destructive, dissipates what it borrows, it is so much lost for ever [sic]; and it remains burdened with a debt, which is so much taken from its future means. This cannot be otherwise." 

In this day of trillion-dollar annual budget deficits, a national debt—closing in on $16.5 trillion—that exceeds the value of all the goods and services produced by the American people in a year, rising taxes, and out-of-control spending, it's time to rediscover the wisdom of Destutt de Tracy. 

This article originally appeared at The Project to Restore America.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Ted S.||

    In 1817 the Frenchman Tracy published a book

    But that's like 200 years ago! And Tracy is just an old white guy.

  • ||

    You and I can't force banks to raise our credit-card limits merely because we have bills to pay.

    Bad analogy. Banks enforce credit limits because you and I may not be able to repay. If we could honor our debts by stealing from our neighbors then banks would voluntarily raise our credit limits.

  • Hollywood||


    If we could honor our debts by stealing from our neighbors then banks would voluntarily raise our credit limits.

    Until you reach a point where you've stolen everything from your neighbors. The US has reached this limit. The world cannot afford our profligacy.

  • Xenocles||

    We don't even have to steal from our neighbors, since we have sole control over the production of the assets we're borrowing. It's as if my creditors agreed to accept cat hair as a means of repayment - as long as I can hold a brush I'm solvent.

  • robc||

    However, the bank doesnt want their assets devalued, so loaning to someone who is warming up the printing press seems like a truly stupid idea.

  • sloopyinca||

    Yes, but it's not really a loan when the guy warming up the printing presses also has a gun pointed at the bank's head.

  • Libertarius||

    Or when the guy with the printing press is the same guy in the bank (i.e. the T bond shell game between the Fed and the Treasury).

  • Hollywood||

    I used "steal" to be consistent with h3k86qc35923's language.


    as long as I can hold a brush I'm solvent.

    No, that's an illusion. It only continues if our creditors are dumb enough to think we won't totally debase the currency to fund the government's largess.

  • Xenocles||

    It's not my illusion but my creditors'. As long as they believe in the value of my cat hair I really am solvent.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It's not my illusion but my creditors'

    It's not even that.

    Uncle Sam's primary creditor is the central bank, the counterfitter in chief, and his secondary creditors are the central banks of other countries and the tertiary creditors financial institutions which he's obligated to hold his debt.

    It's all a fraud to cover up monetary expansion.

  • Hollywood||

    Buying US treasuries now would be like buying condos in Las Vegas in 2007.

  • MoreFreedom||

    "Until you reach a point where you've stolen everything from your neighbors. The US has reached this limit. The world cannot afford our profligacy."

    True, the net present value of all federal US obligations is actually more than everything in the US both public and private.

    From http://online.wsj.com/article/.....83178.html

    "Federal data indicate how urgently we need reform: The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That's well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property). "

    In other words, if government took everything we own and used it to pay its obligations, we'd all individually be broke of course, and so would our government. And our government wouldn't be able to borrow, as they'd have nothing to tax having already taken the shirts off our backs, and having sold all the land in the US as well.

  • The Daily Chimpout||

    Today's feature: On a Bus

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Cutting spending will never resonate in a political campaign - witness Romney blasting Obama for his Medicare cuts.

  • ||

    Pretty much.

    If you just pick one side over the other in the battle of who gets the government loot, you can always count on your strategically chosen supporters to deal with your detractors. Romney didn't play a good game of that.

    When you want to downsize the entire system, watch the entire system turn on you.

  • Robert||

    Then the former is the way we must proceed, serially and cagily turning group against group. It will take a lot of plotting to figure out a sequence that will work.

  • ||

    Every once a while, Shriek, that lithium of yours kicks in and you say something truthful and this is one of those times.

    What's especially egregious is that Shit Flopney knew about the Medicare spending transfer to ObamneyCare (with a willing TEAM RED HoR), rightly called His Pestilency over it, yet did worse as both RomneyCare and CMS spending increased in MA, and he no doubt had no intention of changing existing law had he won. Disgusting.

    At least Heritage Foundation disavowed the Individual Mandate, something The Flopster refused to do, and his only honest campaign diamond in the rough.

    I'm not a conspiracy loon, but if TEAM RED was purposefully trying to lose, they could not have done a better job.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I always tell the truth whether you are aware or not.

    Imagine if a candidate said he would cut everything 15% across the board. He would be a certain loser in that he would alienate everyone except libertarians.

    Romney ran on a "better" campaign strategy - cuts for the 47% of freeloaders. That however was a complete lie in that he never intended to cut SS/Medicare. The lies backfired on him.

    Once the SS/Medicare crowd all realize they are considered freeloaders it will change election dynamics radically.

  • sloopyinca||

    I always tell the truth whether you are aware or not.

    Yes, but it isn't truth-truth.

  • ||

    I always tell the truth whether you are aware or not.

    I see the lithium has worn off.

  • ||

    I see the lithium has worn off.

    Beat me to it.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It's always a sad moment, when you see the delusions returning after a brief moment of lucidity.

  • Ted S.||

    The only sort of lucidity Shriek has is crappy lucidity.

  • Hollywood||

    They should have couched this by saying we need to reform entitlements to ensure their viability. The numbers are clear, the programs are unsustainable. No one can argue to the contrary. TEAM BLUE is better at capturing the language so they can debate on their terms. Obamaney Care (to use the good dr's term) is considered health care "reform" when it would be more accurate to describe it as the DMV-ization or your personal healthcare. Or, as another example, tax "revenue," which should be called confiscated earnings.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I always tell the truth whether you are aware or not.

    Except when it comes to 5th grade mathematics.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I'm not a conspiracy loon, but if TEAM RED was purposefully trying to lose, they could not have done a better job.

    It might have helped if their candidate had actually wanted to be president.

  • Free Society||

    Well George Washington and Ron Paul both did not want to be President because of the soul depletion that comes with wielding a monopoly of force. If you aren't a sociopath, the highest echelons of government aren't for you. Not that I'd say Romney has any Cinncinatus-like misgivings about Presidential power...

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Former admin in State on Chuck Hagel:

    “This is the neocons’ worst nightmare because you’ve got a combat soldier, successful businessman and senator who actually thinks there may be other ways to resolve some questions other than force,”

    (New York Times)

    The GOP may filibuster Hagel in eternity. This will be fun.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...who actually thinks there may be other ways to resolve some questions other than force...

    Not exactly the Democrat tune these days, either.

  • sloopyinca||

    He's also the Progressives' worst nightmare. Or am I imagining the expanded war in Af-Pak, Libya, Syria and the melange of other African countries we started conducting military activities in since your hero took the oath of office.

  • ||

    Libya, that was NATO, nothing to do with the Anointed One, or so I've been assured by perfectly objective members of the Anointed One's cult of personality.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yes, Iraq=Libya - a common wingnut talking point/claim.

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug| 1.13.13 @ 11:05AM |#
    Yes, Iraq /= Libya - a common brain=dead talking point/claim.

  • Jeff||

    It's totally different! Obama didn't even ask Congress when he attacked Libya! That makes it better!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Plus Libya's dictator was a benign fool that was even co-operating with the US, and as such was much more dangerous than Saddam.

  • Free Society||

    but..but... he had support from a handful of western nations! I think there's something in the Constitution about bypassing Congress if you have UN support.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Palin's Buttwipe,

    Yes, Iraq=Libya - a common wingnut talking point/claim.


    "Our wars that kill brown towelheaded people are much better than their wars that kill brown towelheaded people!"

    Yes, you have such love for human life yourself, buttwipe.

  • ||

    I remember when Kerry was first being floated as a presidential candidate. His strongest point was supposed to be that he was a Vietnam vet instead of a chickenhawk like Bush, hence a nightmare for the neocons.

  • sloopyinca||

    Swiftboating FTW!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Thus you illustrate the stupidity of Democrats since they passed up the real anti-war candidate in Howard Dean. 2004 was still a banner year for flag-waving when there were still supporters of nation-building in the GOP.

  • sloopyinca||

    Wow, that's like your second intelligent post of the day. I need to get to my fainting couch post-haste.

  • ||

    Broken clocks and all that...

  • Raven Nation||

    Although it seems to me that most of Obama's cabinet heads have been pretty low-profile, almost non-existent. He's been the leader. Makes me wonder how much influence Hagel will have in policy discussions.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, I don't know that much about Hagel but the neo-cons make him sound quite dreamy. All of their talk of him gutting the military budget, bringing troops home, and not wanting to bomb the shit out of everyone gives me a woody. Anyone that scares them can't be all bad. I'm sure it's all too good to be true though.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Eh, Hagel's love/hate in foreign policy circles is based entirely on his turning on a dime against the Iraq War after he voted for the resolution. He voted for the failed Kosovo resolution (would have authorized long-term use of American troops in Kosovo), voted to establish the DHS and PATRIOT Act, and has been in favor of all manner of peacekeeping bullshit. As far as I know he is only remarkable for smelling the winds of change vis a vis Iraq before his fellow Republicans.

    Basically, he's a cunt.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Good to know

  • SIV||

    Basically, he's a cunt.

    THAT'S WHY CHUCK HAGEL ISN'T A LIBERTARIAN

    /Ken Shultz

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It's not even that.

    The opposition to Hagel is all based on personal animus. He's an asocial a-hole so they oppose him. In contrast to that buffoon Kerry, who's one of them, and will sail through with nary a complaint at all.

  • Libertarius||

    The lefties want him because they think he's Hegel (the father of much of the bad, phony philosophy at the root of lefty irrationalism).

  • Dweebston||

    You think leftists bother couching themselves philosophically in anything other than opportunism and TEAM BLUE panegyrics?

  • MoreFreedom||

    Someone in congress who's "an asocial a-hole" to other members of congress can't be all bad. Ron Paul didn't make any friends in Congress that I'm aware of (except for a few libertarian minded folks). But of course, they knew that giving him campaign cash for some rent-seeking objective, was futile. Or that getting his vote to spend money was futile as well (unless the budget was balanced).

    Hagel is in the smaller Senate, and senators seem to take the approach that if you don't go along, you are an "a-hole."

    Since CATO thinks Hagel would be a fine secretary of Defense, I'm all for it.

  • RyanXXX||

    And he's already starting to toe the LION on several issues in order to get nominated. So yea, he is a piece of shit but not for the reasons the Neocons claim

  • RyanXXX||

    But John is offended by his anti-gay remarks! It's unacceptable for a Secretary of Defense to be grossed out by flamers, John told me so! His compassion for LGBTs is truly moving

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Thus, by their obligingness, they burthen without their consent not only the citizens actually existing, but also future generations...

    Jefferson had dental work done the day he translated that sentence.

  • ||

    Really? Thank God, I thought it was because he was a burther.

  • sloopyinca||

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Holy...did shriek just write something sensible? And rational? PoliceOne getting some wood on the ball?

    I may need to go buy a lottery ticket today. Auspicious events abound.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, those stories about the Feds stockpiling ammo five or six months ago are starting to make a whole lot more sense. This gun control push was planned well before Sandy Hook.

  • Sernylan||

    "This gun control push was planned well before Sandy Hook."

    If this video is true, then there wasn't any AR-15 even brought to the school by the killer(s?).

    (Looks like a semi-auto shotgun @ ~1:20 by the way the deputy is ejecting the shells)

  • AlmightyJB||

    I can't really tell what the deputy is doing or what kind of gun that was from the crappy video. The day of the shooting they did keep saying that Bushmaster was left in the car, which is why it was quite confusing to hear the next day that it was the weapon used. I have no problem believing the government would lie if it helps them achieve their ends, but that a lot of people involved that would have to be in on it.

  • Sernylan||

    The deputy is ejecting shells from the breech of the gun, found in the trunk of the killers stolen car. What is odd about it is that the deputy is working the bolt from the side, as opposed from the rear (AR-15 charging handle is to the rear of the upper receiver). Didn't see a magazine removed either..just saying.

  • Libertarius||

    His right hand is definitely on the front right side of the weapon. I've never seen an AR with a handle at the breech (ARs pull from the rear, as you say).

    I'm not that familiar with autoloading shotguns; would an autoloading shotgun have a side handle? Those look a helluva lot more like shells than any bullet cartridge I ever saw.

  • Sernylan||

    "would an autoloading shotgun have a side handle? "

    Yes, the semi-auto shotguns generally have the retractor for the bolt on the side (~90% of them on the right; for the right handed). Most semi-auto shotguns have tube feed magazines, so you have to manually cycle the bolt repeatedly to eject all the shells...the only way to empty the magazine and breech (like it appears the deputy is doing in the vid), as opposed to removing an AR’s box magazine + a quick cycle with the charging handle to render it safe/empty. It just seemed like a Remington 1100/11-87 with a pistolgrip buttstock, but maybe I'm wrong....who knows.

  • kingice||

    That was a Mossberg 930-935

  • Sernylan||

    A moment of clairity from a PoliceOne commenter.

    V THIS V

    Posted by bexar on Saturday, January 12, 2013 06:32 PM Pacific

    "With all the talk of conficating civilian firearms I wonder just who they are going to get to do it. I know a few LEO and they have stated that it is tough enough just enforcing the laws that are now on the books without going on a sucide mission. Free people just ain't going to give up their firearms with a smile. "

    QFT

  • sloopyinca||

    Man gets pulled over for pissing out the window of a moving van. Story exposes the difference in how New Zealand cops and American cops feel about being recorded in public.

    FTA: Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said the possibility of being filmed or recorded was just "part of the modern policing environment" and officers were aware of that.

    "They have always worked under the scrutiny of the public and advancements in recording technology is just an extension of that scrutiny.

    "Our staff work to the highest professional standards and the possibility of being filmed does not alter how they conduct themselves while going about their lawful duty."

    Too bad they don't feel this way in the Philly, New York, Seattle, LA or any other large PD in our country.

  • Ted S.||

    We discussed this one three days ago. Get with the times. :-p

  • AlmightyJB||

    Notice them stashing the beer under the seat. Yeah, the cops were pretty cool about it. No reason not to be.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    "Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

    Goddammit! Does every fucking body have to put children into every fucking argument? It's emotionally charged language, that has no place in adult arguments. I personally blame Whitney Houston for this whole mess.

  • sloopyinca||

    I thought that song was about masturbation.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I'm pretty sure it's about children. But here is one about "self-love".

  • sloopyinca||

  • Ted S.||

  • AlmightyJB||

    All Whitney songs are about masterbation.

  • Ted S.||

    Crackhead wasn't even original.

  • ||

    That's why it was called Global Warming back then and is now called Climate Change. I wonder if they will learn from their mistakes and be sure to remove the null hypothesis from their next big scaremongering apocalypse?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Clamate change? Don't be silly, the climate never changes.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • sloopyinca||

  • sloopyinca||

    And if women aren't your thing, become a cop and rape a kid!

  • Ted S.||

    The cop was actually arrested and not just placed on paid leave?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    ladies and gentlemen: Mr Geddy Lee!

  • AlmightyJB||

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It's good to see the moral scolds of Meet the Press taking some time from their busy schedule of calling for a tough yet sensible ban on all projectile weapons to huff and puff about performance enhancing drugs in sports. One guy was apparently advocating capital punishment for Lance Armstrong.

  • ||

    Jeepers Brooksie! The Soviets pioneered using performance enhancing drugs par excellance, but at least had the decency to execute the losers, not the winners.

    In Soviet Russia, anabolic steroids YOU!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I guess no one brought up David Gregory and his escape from prosecution, despite, in the words of the Attorney General, the "clarity of the violation" of D.C. magazine ban ordinance.

  • ||

    If hanging is what it takes to get people to stop going on Oprah for confessional interviews, then I'm backing it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    So if we let them kill Lance Armstrong they'll let us keep out our guns? Hmmm

  • MoreFreedom||

    The way it's going, pretty soon vitamins, exercise and practice will be consider "sport performance enhancing" and banned as well.

    Why should anything be banned? If we want to see someone run really fast, why not let them? If the performance enhancing drugs are bad for you, then only the athletes will suffer for it. They already suffer by practicing. So what's the difference?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Richard Blumenthal wants background checks for all ammo purchases. Fuck you, Connecticut.

    Also BAN THOSE COPKILLER BULLETS!!

  • sloopyinca||

    But, but, but...we've got to do something!

  • ||

    Intentions matter here.

  • Ted S.||

    Yes. They intend to be evil.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Yeah, I heard that jackoff going on about "teflon" and "incendiary" bullets.

    It's just so comforting to know that important decisions about things like the individual right to self-defense is in the hands of ignorant fucks who don't know what they're talking about.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Doing something, in this case, looks a lot like randomly flailing around. And collective retribution.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Sexual assault on a child is a tragic but unavoidable outcome of a hero's neverending pursuit of justice and a better America. The city should just give the kid some hush money a generous settlement as a gesture of their sympathy and goodwill.

  • Mike M.||

    One of my favorite liberal lies is the claim that if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we go into default.

    Don't believe this bullcrap: the only things that the government are absolutely legally obligated to pay are interest on the debt, and notes that come mature. Everything else can be reduced or even completely cut off tomorrow.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    If the GOP has any balls they would push us into paying just the required interest/notes and shut all other spending down. End outlays for SS/Medicare/defense and all federal departments until they are all cut.

    Let's see how that works out.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Gee, I can't tell if Shrieky is on his meds and making a principled argument, or if he's being a duplicitous piece of shit and trying to get TEAM Red completely shitcanned in 2014.

    Then again, I'd be satisfied with the outcome if TEAM Red actually sacked up and cut everything.

  • Mike M.||

    It's the latter; he's a duplicitous piece of shit who lies about practically everything.

    He knows there is no real chance of serious spending cuts, but if there were, he would scream bloody murder. He's a fucking Obamite for crying out loud.

  • Hollywood||

    If they had any balls they'd demand we lower the debt ceiling.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Oh, YAY!

    The Top Men of No Labulz are back, with their special brand of lofty yet strangely substanceless rhetoric.

    You kids shut up, and listen carefully. These men are thoughtful, rational, evenhanded adults. They have a roadmap to a plan to a blueprint to lay the foundation for a bridge to a better future, and you unruly bozos are an unnecessary impediment to the implementation of their grand scheme.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I read the No Labels website. Their "solution" for fixing the Executive Branch amounts to giving the President legislative powers and doing away with that whole "advice and consent" nonsense.

    SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I guess no one brought up David Gregory and his escape from prosecution, despite, in the words of the Attorney General, the "clarity of the violation" of D.C. magazine ban ordinance.

    That would be indecorous, and rude.

  • Cool Story, Bro||

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Good luck to them. It still sounds collectivist, but if that is their "American Dream" then have at it. We all want a safe Suburban Home.

    I want to be stereotyped
    I want to be classified
    I want to be a clone
    I want a suburban home
    Suburban home
    Suburban home
    Suburban home

    I want to be a statistic
    I want to be masochistic
    I want to be a clone
    I want a suburban home
    Suburban home
    Suburban home
    Suburban home

    I don't want no hippie pad
    I want a house just
    Like mom and dad

  • sloopyinca||

  • Ted S.||

    I thought the only way to live was in cars.

  • SIV||

  • Lord at War||

    I don't care about pollution,
    I'm an air conditioned gypsy.
    That's my solution.
    Watch the police and the taxman miss me.
    When I'm mobile.

  • Hollywood||

    Drive through your suburbs
    Into your blues.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Hey, when they keep Abdullah Jones out of this country, you won't sound so smug.

  • sloopyinca||

    Did anybody catch Meet The Press today? I heard David Gregory was planning on raping a teenager to show how easy it is, but I can't find the YouTube video.

  • sloopyinca||

    I don't know how many of you have heard about this story, but if it's true, we could be looking at a new Senate Majority Leader in the near future.

  • RBS||

    What makes you think anything would happen to Reid?

  • sloopyinca||

    If it comes out that he took money and returned any of it, he's fucked. Also, there's a lot of hard evidence as well as audio that exists. If somebody caught on tape and paper is facing a lengthy prison sentence, they may just play ball and roll on Harry.

    The man was middle class when he went into the Senate, and is now one of its wealthier members. That's just not supposed to happen with all of the ethics rules in place.

  • sloopyinca||

    It'll be just like the Blago trial, only there won't be muscle from the WH to keep the scandal under wraps. Not to mention that Mormons tend to take ethics and morals seriously, and Harry giving them a black eye won't go over well in Utah. And it's a Team Red state as well.

    Somebody is gonna burn here, and it looks like everybody is willing to rat the next guy up the ladder out. If the ladder ends at Reid like the evidence is pointing to, he's gonna be in trouble.

  • RBS||

    I hope you're right. I think I'll keep an eye on this.

  • ||

    Silly Sloopy, don't you know that scandals only apply to the OTHER Team?

  • johnl||

    Mormons tend to take morals seriously like hunters take deer seriously.

  • Ted S.||

    I think you posted it on two or three other H&R threads over the weekend, but presumably everybody else has you on ignore, which is why they didn't hear about it. :-p

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Is that guy trying to impugn the honorable good name of a United States Senator?

    That's a capital crime, isn't it?

  • OldMexican||

    Borrowing appears to be a voluntary form of funding government, but Tracy wrote that "this an illusion [because the lenders] force the government to raise, one day or other, a sum equal to that which they furnish and to the interest which they demand for it. Thus, by their obligingness, they burthen without their consent not only the citizens actually existing, but also future generations...."


    This is the point that people like Krugnutz and the economics-ignorant Tony fail to see: That government funding is an agreement between the borrower and the lender that includes an unwitting 3rd party. That totally violates the legal and conceptual requirements for a contract. The 3rd party has NO say on how much interest is willing to pay the lender, or has a chance to shop around. It is instead more akin to agreements made between gangsters or criminals.

    The reason this debt is a "crisis" is because the government wants to keep borrowing in order to finance its largess, committing the people's current and future production to repay the current debt or the interests on it, be it through taxation or inflation - both transfers of wealth. This commitment is obviously made to the lenders, thus generating a pressure to pay that leads the government to economic and fiscal policies increasingly detrimental for producers in the United States.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Weird times. Federal is a wasteland for us; but many states are getting close to indulging some of our fantasies. It appears, at the state levels at least, Team Red is better than Team Blue.

    Rucho and other like-minded lawmakers have a plan to do away with all state individual and corporate income taxes. The plan would replace lost revenue with a new business license fee and a higher sales tax on goods and services not now taxed by the state, such as legal, accounting and spa services, and food.

    http://ca.reuters.com/article/.....8C20130113

  • sloopyinca||

    but many states are getting close to indulging some of our fantasies.

    What, is Texas instituting a drone program to kill Mexican kids?

  • Hollywood||

    That's the next phase of the virtual fence. In fact, why don't they just send in some autonomous drones that fly within a defined operating area and kill anything that moves via a motion-detection targeting system?

    /sarc

  • sloopyinca||

    /sarc

    /Cytotoxic

  • Cytotoxic||

    But I want to let in the spics in. Swarthy Islamists on the other hand? The get the Rain of Terror Freedom treatment.

    BTW, what's a virtual fence? A killzone autonomously operated by SkyNet?

  • sloopyinca||

    Like these swarthy islamists that were in the fifth grade?

    Or do we now have to kill them before they become terrorists to protect ourselves?

  • Cytotoxic||

    It's not the USG's job to be perfect. Indeed, as long as there was an enemy target present, it's not even the USG's moral bad.

  • sloopyinca||

    Your love of murder is despicable.

  • Cytotoxic||

    It's not murder. Your moral mis-development is confusing you.

  • sloopyinca||

    No, I have respect for innocent children and their right to live. You seem to think their guilt-by-association is worthy of a death sentence.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No I don't. You aren't 'thinking' at all. You're rationalizing.

    Children have a right to live and the USG has the responsibility to protect its citizens. When these two clash, blame the initiator of force ie the Taliban/AQ/Islamofascists.

    There I pwnd your argument now can we please go back to my original point? Your misdirection was uncalled for.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I personally thank the our brave government for protecting me dirt-poor brown children 10,000 miles away. I can't tell you how many times over I'd be dead if some dirt-poor brown child was allowed to live.

    Dammit, I just shit myself again worrying about these fucking dirt-poor brown children 10,000 miles away. Gimme a napkin or something, please.

  • sloopyinca||

    Why do you insist on claiming victory in a moral argument where you are on the side of evil?

    The people we are killing now have never harmed us, do not have the ability to harm us and largely want to simply be left alone. Blaming a dead child on the person who lives next door (even though we never, ever explain who or how they pose a threat to us) is disgusting given the technology available to our drone operators. Its evil, its counterproductive and it nothing more than state terrorism.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Fuck off, sloopy. It's like you want me to shit myself in terror.

    Dirt-poor brown children 10,000 miles away make me and cyto shit ourselves in terror, therefore they are terrorists, therefore they are fair game...

    quod erat demonstrandum

  • Cytotoxic||

    The people we are killing now have never harmed us, do not have the ability to harm us and largely want to simply be left alone. Blaming a dead child on the person who lives next door (even though we never, ever explain who or how they pose a threat to us)

    Lies, lies, and more lies. Your inability to make an honest argument = I win and you lose. I will accept my victory with the usual magnanimosity and grace.

  • sloopyinca||

    Lies, lies and more lies.

    So you're saying the kids we're killing in Waziristan have harmed us, have the ability to harm us and do not want to be left alone?

    I will accept my victory moral asskicking with the usual magnanimosity and grace delusion.

    FIFY!

  • Hollywood||

    Why do they think they have to replaced "lost revenue" (confiscated earnings) with anything? In other words, fuck you, cut spending!

  • Cytotoxic||

    Yeah, but better from consumption than income because 1) economics of production and 2) politics of 'everyone feels and sees the pain'.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Oh, I nearly forgot. I visited the YouTube channel of our good fiend Mary Stack yesterday. She doesn't make many videos but she has a well-updated list of links to people's comments. From yesterday going back. She's watching. She'll probably read this.

  • Mike M.||

    A small part of me kind of wants to feel sorry for the poor woman, being as mentally ill as she clearly is.

  • sloopyinca||

    The fucking NFL. I hate the NFL. They rig these games for the teams they want to win. They play a dome game on the east coast at 1:00 against a west coast team and then play a game in the NE outdoors as the sun is going down against a team from the central time zone from the south.

    I mean, I know the league office loves to suck on Tom Brady's and the Patriots collective tiny cock, but let's not be so blatant about it.

  • RBS||

    Funny how that works. Also, they basically banned defense.

  • XM||

    World football American football

    (runs away)

  • XM||

    * is better than

  • Xenocles||

    I taught my daughter to play soccer last night, and now she falls over clutching her knee in pain whenever I walk near her.

  • Ted S.||

    Actually, it switches back and forth as to which conference has the two 4:30 games in the divisional round, and which gets the Saturday late/Sunday early game. Last year, the Packers hosted the 4:30 Sunday game in the divisional round; two years ago, they played Saturday night in Atlanta.

    (The Conference Championship games also alternate; the NFC had the late game after the 2007, '09, and '11 regular seasons; the AFC has the late game this year, after 2010, and after 2008.)

    You just hate Tom Brady because of where he went to college. AJ Hawk played like shit last night, too.

  • sloopyinca||

    Thy shift games around all the time and the schedule wasn't released until all of the games last weekend were completed. And my hatred for Brady does come from the school he went to, but I also hate Belichek for being a douche and the entire Patriots/ESPN lovefest we have to see every fucking Sunday. And yes, AJ Hawk played like a bum yesterday. So did Rodgers and quite a few other players, especially the defensive secondary.

    I still call shenanigans.

  • Ted S.||

    Thy shift games around all the time and the schedule wasn't released until all of the games last weekend were completed.

    I don't think this is true: on the Packer board I frequent somebody mentioned before the wild-card game that if GB won, they'd be playing SF in the late game Saturday. The Patriots were going to be hosting a game at 4:30 PM ET no matter what. Next year, it will be either a Saturday night or Sunday at 1:00 PM game if they have a first-round bye. (Probably Saturday night for ratings, just like last year against Tim Tebow and the Broncos.)

    Since SF couldn't host a 10:00 AM Pacific Time game, they had to be the second game on Saturday, and Atlanta had to get the first game on Sunday.

  • Xenocles||

    To be fair, the NFL is just in the thrall of the Bavarian Illuminati.

  • RBS||

    "Bavarian Illuminati."

    Mmmm, Bavarian...

  • ||

    "I'm Inga from Sveeden..."

    "But...you're...wearing lederhosen..."

  • sloopyinca||

    "Don't try anything funny or the whore loses a kidney."

  • Xenocles||

    Well, you have to be specific or else you have no credibility.

  • Mike M.||

    Watching the 49ers beat their ass again in the Super Bowl is going to be great.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    They rig these games for the teams they want to win.

    I know my surprised face is around here somewhere.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Game, set, and MATCH!

    The gun control debate has been heating up since the Connecticut massacre. The issue even came up during the Miss America pageant on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Miss New York, Mallory Hytes Hagan, the eventual winner, was asked during the competition whether armed guards should be put in schools.

    "I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence," Hagan said, indicating that she opposes the idea championed by the NRA after the Newtown massacre.

    SURRENDER DOROTHY

  • AlmightyJB||

    ""I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence"

    And if she was being raped?

  • ||

    **Cue joe mumbling something about England.**

  • Cytotoxic||

    "Rapists don't rape people, guns do."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence

    Oh look! Another pretty airhead. And in other news, a man was recently bitten by a dog.

  • Xenocles||

    Why wouldn't the man just shoot the dog?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Neither man nor dog were cops.

  • ||

    Because he didn't have a badge?

  • ||

    Dammit. Left the page open for 5 minutes and missed originality by || that much

  • General Butt Naked||

    TIME PWNED

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fuck my son's school teacher.

    My oldest kid is in a montessori program for 3-5 year olds. The first 2 years he had a great teacher who had been teaching a montessori program for nearly 50 years before she was essentially pushed out by the school. Neither my wife nor I were happy about the move but we decided to keep him in the school because he only had 1 more year in the Montessori program before he starts 1st grade and we figured they would get a suitable replacement.

    They didn't.

    What they did find was a twenty-something progressive snowflake twit of a wet blanket who suppresses virtually anything that can be construed as fun.

    My younger son will NOT be in her montessori classroom, and the school administration will know exactly why. Fuck that nanny bitch.

  • RBS||

    Damn. I can't wait for my son to be old enough for me to deal with this bullshit.

  • Ted S.||

    What they did find was a twenty-something progressive snowflake twit of a wet blanket who suppresses virtually anything that can be construed as fun.

    I thought the whole point of the Montessori system was to let kids learn by having fun. What's the school doing hiring a wanker like this?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I thought the whole point of the Montessori system was to let kids learn by having fun. What's the school doing hiring a wanker like this?

    Let me qualify . . .

    She's actually a competent teacher. As in she knows well how to help kids in a self-guided system like Montessori learn how to develop the skills they need like reading, writing, basic arithmetic, etc. She certainly is good at doing that.

    But she also allows her socio-political values to dictate things outside of the academic work which conflict with my own, and that's a problem. She's been bullying my kid about eating (my kid is a terrible eater) because he won't clean his plate and accusing him of wasting food, and not setting a good example.

    (cont)

  • mad libertarian guy||

    1) My kid is not there to set an example.

    2) She informed me of federal law that dictates school lunch servers are, by mandate, forced to serve kids something from every food group whether they want it or not, and that because he isn't eating everything he's wasting food. My take on it is that the pols are wasting food by forcing food on to my kid's plate that he either doesn't want or won't eat, then dumb statists like her have the temerity to blame my kid for waste.

    3) Since Newtown she has informed her class that "hunting" is violent, and that any students playing "hunting games" will be punished. Nevermind that I am a hunter and that we get roughly 1/2 of our meat from hunting, and that ever since my kid can understand the connection between me hunting and the meat I put in the freezer, he imitates me by going "bang bang", followed by him rolling around my meat cooler and showing me how much meat he was able to get from his last hunt. I won't have him shamed for wanting to imitate his father putting food on our fucking table. And to top it off, she has informed us parents that "regardless of politics" our kids will be punished for playing those games. So she's allowed to insert politics in to my child's education, but I'm not allowed to object based on my own politics. Fuck that bitch.

  • sloopyinca||

    You need to write a very stern letter to the senior admin of the school as well as to every parent you have the address for explaining that you are removing your son and why. You also need to make a production of how they are not meeting their end of the contract because they are injecting non-curricular matter into their teaching and that you will possibly be seeking recompense unless she immediately removes her politics from her daily interaction with the kids.

    Either that or you can slash her tires and carve "fascist" onto the hood of her car.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    That's my wife's job.

    I'm good at expressing my thoughts on the matter, just not in a way that's conducive to actually getting shit done. I'm blunt, and "fuck you, bitch because *insert perfectly spelled out reason why*" is as likely to come out of my mouth as anything that could actually help the situation.

    The other issue is that we're kind of stuck. There is one other comparable private school in our area, but it's well beyond what we can afford (particularly when we will have a second child in school in a year and a half). We don't want to become the "problem parents" that they'd simply rather not deal with and be stuck with government school or home school. I don't mind the idea of home schooling, but I don't have the patience (among other things) to teach both my children full-time. And they will NEVER go to government schools. So in our estimation there's only so much fit we can afford to throw before dealing with us is not worth the tuition payments we send in.

    My wife has asked to schedule a conference with my kid's teacher. She works full time (I'm a stay-at-home dad) so all of the conferences and daily interactions with his teacher are with me, and she wants some face-to-face time with her to let her know exactly how she feels (particularly the food bullying bullshit). She's also emailed all of the parents in our class in order to feel out the situation with the rest of them. Not all of us were happy that the old montessori teacher was forced out.

  • ||

    The Reggio Way is even better it's argued.

    Hang in there MLG.

  • sloopyinca||

    This is a fine college basketball game I'm watching.

  • sloopyinca||

    It is not a fine football game, however.

  • Mike M.||

    Momentum is starting to shift now...

  • sloopyinca||

    It shifted about 3 times in the last 10 minutes...in both games.

    That's a back-breaker for you in the Pick-Em, by the way.

  • Mike M.||

    Awesome game. I got to give Matty Ice credit, he came up with a couple of big plays under pressure and won it. My picks this weekend did suck though!

  • RyanXXX||

    That last quarter was torturous for us here in Seattle. Way to get our hopes up repeatedly just to kick us in the nuts.

    Still, coming back to gain the lead after being down 20-0 at halftime is nothing to be ashamed of

  • sloopyinca||

    What kind of clock management was that?

  • Shocked||

    Uh oh. Our stagnant offense is back.

  • RyanXXX||

    My FB feed is blowing up with people wishing death on Carrol.

  • SIV||

    I suppose pedophobe teachers are better than pedophile teachers.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Can you imagine how much different (and funnier) this story would be if this French teacher (aka useless waste of oxygen) filed a lawsuit claiming to be a homophobe and that she got terror, dread, anxiety, and dry-mouth from fear of catching teh ghey?

  • np||

    In 1817 the Frenchman Tracy published a book on economic principles, which Jefferson liked so much, he oversaw its translation into English as A Treatise on Political Economy.

    Man, what happened to the French? Bastiat was also French liberal who sat on the left side of the court (hence the term "left-wing"), fighting against the socialists and statists.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: np,

    Man, what happened to the French?


    They were always like that. It just happened that out of that ooze of socialism a few evolved and escaped out.

  • Page Turner||

    I wonder how long it will take before the next generation of tax payers says "enough" and refuses to pay? Individually they can't, of course, but will there be a movement when more of their earnings are confiscated for taxes than they get to keep?

    If the interest on the debt goes back to average levels of 6% won't all taxes go to debt payment?

    What then?

  • ||

    Individually they can't, of course

    They can. The work a given individual does may or may not yet be productive enough to exceed what they can produce doing taxable work minus taxes stolen, but at a high enough tax level it pays to switch to doing stuff the government can't track and tax.

  • ||

    And he grasped that such spending is not investment

    Depends. If the money is spent on the political equivalent of hookers and blow, it's spending.

    If it is spent to build bridges and roads and other things that increase future productivity, it is an inefficient form of investment. Inefficient, since a private company would almost always do a cheaper and better job of building such things, or not build them at all because there are more critical and profitable ways to invest the money that a centralized bureaucracy directing a monopolistic unionized workforce to produce things for political reasons wouldn't grasp.

  • ||

    a national debt—closing in on $16.5 trillion—that exceeds the value of all the goods and services produced by the American people in a year

    Doubtful. The actual value created by goods and services produced by Americans likely is several times what the government measures as taxable income.

    For example, ask any housewife or househusband if they are not working and not creating value because what they do is not considered taxable income.

  • Hollywood||

    Being a housewife doesn't create wealth (with all due respect to stay at home parents). It's not something that would be traded and shouldn't be counted anyways. We aren't going to reduce our trade deficit by increasing the number of stay at home parents we have in our economy. I would argue that the GDP is less than what is officially reported when you consider a large part of the figure is based on phony services. The so called "service economy" is just a farce, it's a veneer. For example, we count money spent on or earned by tax preparation services in GDP. Do you consider this wealth creation? It's a self-licking ice cream cone created by the govt's ridiculous tax code. It's like running on a hamster wheel. It is not really productive.

  • ||

    Being a housewife doesn't create wealth (with all due respect to stay at home parents). It's not something that would be traded and shouldn't be counted anyways.

    So, hiring a maid to clean your house doesn't create value (not "wealth")?

    If you feel it does create value, are you maintaining that a housewife doing the exact same thing DOESN'T create value?

    So, preparing a meal in a restaurant for customers doesn't create value?

    If you feel it does create value, are you maintaining that a housewife doing the exact same thing DOESN'T create value? Processing low value raw materials like apples and sugar and flour and turning them into a much more valuable apple pie creates value and wealth if done in a factory setting, or even if done in a home kitchen for sale in a food truck, but not if done in a home kitchen for family.

    So, mowing lawns / cleaning pools / doing anything that the law of comparative advantage suggests should be delegated -- doesn't create value?

    If you feel it does create value, are you maintaining that a housewife doing the exact same thing DOESN'T create value?

    And so on.

  • ||

    We aren't going to reduce our trade deficit by increasing the number of stay at home parents we have in our economy.

    The "we" and "our" are collectivist thinking, as is the notion that a government reported trade "deficit" is anything to worry about. If I were to live in Idaho right on the border between Canada, Idaho, and Montana, and step across an artificial political boundary and buy an apple from someone in Montana, should I worry about the trade deficit between states caused by that transaction?

    If not, why should an identical purchase made a few feet away in Canada instead be cause for consternation? Isn't value being created by both transactions for both parties?

  • ||

    I would argue that the GDP is less than what is officially reported when you consider a large part of the figure is based on phony services. The so called "service economy" is just a farce, it's a veneer.

    Perhaps when you buy a meal in a restaurant, you feel that is a farcical transaction that doesn't mutually benefit both parties. I feel differently.

    For example, we count money spent on or earned by tax preparation services in GDP. Do you consider this wealth creation?

    If the alternative is you personally taking time away from work at, say, $100 / hour instead of paying someone $30 per hour to prepare taxes, then yes, this creates more wealth than the alternative.

    That being said, I certainly have not said that GDP accurately counts value or wealth created. It does not. It doesn't count huge amounts of value created, and counts counterproductive and destructive government spending as if it were wealth instead of the opposite.

    It's a self-licking ice cream cone created by the govt's ridiculous tax code. It's like running on a hamster wheel. It is not really productive.

    As an anarchist, I heartily agree that the IRS should be done away with, and thus eliminate the need for tax preparation, and that government statisticians preparing GDP numbers should all be fired and let free to seek more useful employment that adds value to the lives of others.

  • Hollywood||

    I'm not saying there wouldn't be second-order effects. For example, if a stay-at-home spouse enables their partner to work more than he otherwise would, that could conceivably contribute to the economy.


    If the alternative is you personally taking time away from work at, say, $100 / hour instead of paying someone $30 per hour to prepare taxes, then yes, this creates more wealth than the alternative.


    The problem is with having to take significant time away from work in the first place. It's a government-imposed waste Our country isn't going to be enriched by these kinds of services. That's what I call phony. It destroys wealth since we take money out of the private economy to pay for services to help us navigate the imposed bureaucracy.

  • Hollywood||

    Your contention was that the GDP figure is understated because it did not include stay-at-home parenting. I argue that, if anything, the GDP figure is overstated. Not only should that not be considered production, there are many other services (government compliance related) that shouldn't be either. Your argument is essentially no different from the broken window fallacy.

  • Hollywood||


    The "we" and "our" are collectivist thinking, as is the notion that a government reported trade "deficit" is anything to worry about.


    Unless you earn money in something other than dollars, I'd be concerned about it.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement