Max DoubtJuly 6th, 2011

Suppose Congress were to fail to increase the debt limit. The experts tell us that the federal government would not be able to spend. My Social Security pension would stop. Military pay would stop. Government contractors would receive no further payments. Printing presses at the mint would fall silent. No more bonds would be issued. The sages don’t actually itemize the damages, but they predict catastrophe. In reply, we might reasonably ask, “Oh, really?”

When you reach the limit on your credit card, the banker doesn’t stop you from spending, he just won’t let you spend any more of the bank’s money. If you cut back on expenses, stiff lower-priority creditors, get a second job, sell off some of your stuff, and give the bank a sufficient quantity of the resulting cash, you’ll be back on the bank’s tab ever so promptly.

Suppose the US government were to declare a moratorium on the world war we’ve been waging for the past several years. All the millions we spend every day destroying things and killing people could be applied to our debt. We could tell the people we’re trying to liberate that we’ll get back to the bloodshed when we can afford it again. They’ll understand. They certainly understand this: any country that can’t win a war in ten years ain’t gonna win ever. Instead of increasing the debt limit, we’d be reducing the balance. That’s what you would have to do if it were your tab.

Another possibility would be to tax the rich. Their wealth has grown by an appreciable amount in recent years, partly because we no longer tax them. Why not take that surplus? Pay down the balance a little, and then we can get our credit card back and reduce the payback at the same time. Win-win.

There’s an infinite number of ways to survive with our current debt limit, but the authorities don’t want us to know that, because they and their sponsors rake in a fat profit whenever money is borrowed. An increase in the debt limit means more money in the pockets of people who already own just about everything. Congress isn’t increasing the limit for your benefit but for theirs.

I’m challenging my congressman to keep the debt limit where it is. Increasing it is an admission of irresponsible stewardship, and any member who supports an increase ought to tender his resignation along with his vote. Better to start amortizing the debt with the military pay that won’t get disbursed because the war is finally over. And if our central government is bankrupt, we have a right to know, and we have an obligation to take it into receivership if necessary. Could be a path to revolution.