The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released a 55-page report on the “long-term US budget outlook”. The report implied that the US government is on the road to fiscal chaos and possible collapse that could not be sustained beyond A.D. 2047.
I think the CBO is lying about the “long-term” budget outlook. Instead, I think we’ve only got a “short-term” to go before the debt hits the fan.
According to the report, the “official” National Debt ($20 trillion) currently stands at the highest level since shortly after World War II. (The report did not comment on estimates by others that, including unfunded liabilities, the real National Debt may be closer to $100 trillion or even $200 trillion.) According to the report, if government maintains current policies and economic trends continue, the debt will likely double over the next 30 years, rising to about 150% of GDP.
I see the CBO’s predictions and “warnings” as bunk, bunk, and, uh, bunk.
The official National Debt basically doubled in just 8 years of Obama. If it took another 30 years to double again, that wouldn’t be cause for concern—it would be cause for celebration since the debt would be increasing at only about one-fourth of the rate of increase under Obama.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, I’ll bet the debt will double again to $40 trillion within the next 12 years—and it might double in as little as six.
• Here’s why: First, note that CBS News wrote that:
“The explanation for the CBO’s finding is no mystery: the government spends more money than it takes in.”
I disagree. I think the real reason for our ballooning National Debt is a “mystery” to about 99.9% of the American people. I’m increasingly convinced that the real reason for seemingly uncontrolled growth in the National Debt is far deeper than some mathematical crapola about the difference between government’s income and spending.
Government doesn’t simply and accidentally “spend more than it takes in”. The rising debt isn’t evidence of governmental negligence, incompetence, malfeasance, unbridled political ambitions or even treason (at least not in an immediate sense). The ever-growing National Debt is a logical, inevitable consequence of Americans’ consent in the 1970’s to completely abandon our constitutional gold/asset-based monetary system to live in a debt-based monetary world. Once we allowed that transition, the debt had to grow—arithmetically at first, but eventually, geometrically.
In the context of a debt-based monetary system, the seemingly unbridled rise in the National Debt is necessary and intentional.
• I look at it like this: In an asset-based monetary system, if you want more wealth, you must acquire and accumulate more assets. When the basic asset is gold, to acquire a higher standard of living, you must acquire more gold. Under such monetary system, gold is the fundamental measure and medium of wealth.
Likewise, it’s at least reasonable to infer that in a debt-based monetary system, if you want more wealth (homes, land, cars, flat-screen TVs, etc.) you must first acquire and accumulate more debt. Debt becomes the basic measure and medium of wealth.
Don’t think so? Well, how many people can get a new home, car, or even flat-screen TV without going deeper into debt at their bank or on their credit cards? How many people are prevented from purchasing a new house, car or TV because their credit score (capacity to go into debt) is too low?
Yes, some people have savings. Some can pay cash. Some can only pay cash. But for the vast majority of consumers in our debt-based monetary system, if they want more material wealth, they must first increase their capacity to dive deeper into debt.
In our debt-based monetary system, debt (fantastically) has become our fundamental form of wealth.
If that’s true, then it follows that our standard of living as individuals and as a nation depends on our capacity to go deeper into debt. More, if the public can’t or won’t go deeper into debt to stimulate our economy, then government must go deeper into debt to maintain our illusion of prosperity.
Thus, I hypothesize that a rising National Debt is no accident. It’s became a necessity once we accepted the irrationality of a debt-based monetary system. Without more debt, our illusion of prosperity disappears. Again, the astonishing growth in the national Debt is intentional.
• I can’t yet prove this hypothesis. I know it sounds crazy. But I’m increasingly convinced that the growing National Debt is a necessity. If I’m right, America won’t simply collapse under the weight of its National Debt. Ohh, that’ll happen alright—the weight of debt will inevitably crush the economy. But the real trigger, the precipitant, for national collapse will be government’s inability to go even deeper into debt.
Our debt-based monetary and economic systems are giant Ponzi schemes. Like any other Ponzi scheme, a debt-based monetary system can get along just fine so long as there are more, “greater fools” willing to invest evermore currency into the scheme. But if we run out of “greater fools” and access to more credit to support our illusion of prosperity, it’s Bernie Madoff time. Some perpetrators will go to prison, some will kill themselves, others may be hanged. But most investors will be financially ruined.
Because an asset-based (gold-based) monetary system is fundamentally different from, even opposed to, the debt-based, fiat monetary system that the U.S. and the world currently rely upon. In the asset-based monetary system, debt is a liability and something to be shunned. However, in a debt-based monetary system, debt (which is nothing but a promise to pay) is deemed to be a form of wealth and an asset and therefore desirable.
Gold is an asset. It’s tangible. It exists without regard to other people’s intangible promises to pay. If you have gold in hand, you have a payment.
In our debt-based monetary system, debt is merely a promise to pay. Debt is not a payment. Paper debt-instruments (like Federal Reserve Notes, 401(k) accounts, bank accounts, stocks and bonds) are not payments. They are merely an intangible, subjective promise to pay. All debt is nothing but an intangible promise. All paper debt-instruments are mere IOUs–promises to pay.
Think of all the promises you’ve heard in this life. Think of all the promises you’ve made. How many promises have you heard or made that turned out to be worthless? Some? Most? All? What makes you think the promises made by governments or banks are inherently any more reliable than the other promises you’ve heard or made?
Therefore, when it comes to wealth, which would you rather have? A promise to pay or a payment? Would you rather have one ounce of gold or an IOU for one ounce of gold? You’d think the answers to those questions should be obvious. You should prefer receiving a payment rather than a promise to pay.
Unfortunately, however, we live in a world that’s been conditioned to value and desire the paper promises to pay (debt-instruments) rather than the payments. We’re like elephants who’ve been trained to do tricks for peanuts and then been deceived into doing our tricks for Styrofoam peanuts. We prefer the fiction to the fact. We prefer the promise to the payment. Inevitably, reality will intrude and we will lose some, most or all of our imaginary, promissory, debt-based, paper wealth.
• If you’re storing your wealth in any form of paper (stocks, bonds, IOUs, bank accounts, pension funds, fiat dollars) you’re storing your wealth in the form of promises to pay (debts) at a time when the U.S. and world economies are awash with more promises to pay (debts) than can ever possibly be kept (paid).
I’ve said for five years that at least half, and probably 80% to 90% of the world’s promises to pay (debts) will not be kept. Somewhere between 50% and 90% of the world’s current promises to pay (paper wealth) will be rendered void by overt repudiation or by covert inflation or hyperinflation. When the debt hits the fan, those of you who are storing your wealth in the form of paper promises to pay (paper debt-instruments) will, on average, lose 50% to 90% of your “assets”.
• Within a debt-based monetary system, debt (the capacity to make mere promises) is presumed to be wealth. That’s why hustlers and con-artists can become fabulously wealthy. The world’s wealth is no longer about productivity and tangible payments. It’s based on promises to pay (debts). Those who are most adept at making promises are those most likely to get rich–at least temporarily.
The presumption that mere promises can be regarded as wealth is false and even absurd, but it can be sustained (as in any other Ponzi scheme) so long as enough new fools will trade their real wealth (the savings from their effort, intelligence, work, and productivity) for intrinsically-worthless pieces of paper or digital currency issued by (but not redeemed by) the Ponzi scheme’s operators (governments and central banks).
In a debt-based monetary system, the primary means to create even the illusion of increasing prosperity is to go deeper into debt. However, if the people can’t or won’t go more deeply into debt, then, first, the Federal Reserve must step in with a monetary policy (money supply and interest rates) that encourages people to go deeper into debt. The money supply is increased. The interest rate is reduced. Happy days are seemingly here again as consumers swarm to the banks to get some “free” currency so they can buy more stuff. If the consumers buy enough stuff, they’ll increase corporate profits and increase employment and wage levels. Result? The economy is “stimulated” by the “free currency” and we can all live happily ever after.
However, if consumers still refuse to go deeper debt (you can lead a consumer to a bank,but you can’t make him borrow), then government must step in with fiscal policy (lower taxes and higher deficit spending) in order to spend more currency to seemingly stimulate the economy.
If a debt-based monetary system truly feeds off ever-increasing amounts of debt, then it follows that if the consumers can’t or won’t go deeper into debt, the government must. The government must increase the National Debt to “stimulate” the economy. The National Debt does not grow due to negligence or accident. It grows by necessity and political intent.
• What’s happened since the onset of the Great Recession? The Federal Reserve (our “central bank”) used monetary policy (increased money supply and near-zero interest rates; Quantitative Easing) to seduce the American people into borrowing more currency to spend on more “stuff”. Under the Fed’s rationale, if the Fed made it easier for the people to borrow more, they would spend more, the economy would be stimulated, demand would increase, unemployment would fall, wages would rise and we’d all regain our prosperity.
However, I’m arguing that government’s real objective was not to create more spending, but instead to create more debt. To many, my arguments seems a little like a chicken/egg thing: which came first? Certainly, spending and debt are related. In a debt-based monetary system, you can’t have one without the other.
But there’s a question of perspective and primacy. Is government’s prime objective to create more spending or to create more debt? Government argues that their prime objective is to create more spending and the people say YAAAAY!!! (We just love to spend and buy more stuff, don’t we?) Maybe the government’s argument is true.
But I suspect that it’s more useful and accurate to perceive this system’s prime objective as the creation of more debt (and thus more debtors) rather than simply create more carefree, jubilant spending.
Why the suspicion? Because Proverbs 22:7 warns that “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” In fact, some versions of that verse read, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Being a “servant” to the bankers doesn’t sound like such a bad deal (so long as they allow you to keep spending). But being a “slave” sounds terrible.
So, let’s suppose the Bible is true. Plus, suppose that our debt-based monetary system creates not only more debt, but more debtors. Then, it would follow that the real effect (and likely purpose) for our debt-based monetary system is not create more “spenders,” per se—but instead to create more debtors and therefore more slaves. Thus, it appears to me that the real purpose behind a debt-based monetary system is not to guarantee that consumers can live forever in some shop-til-you-drop utopia but, instead, to reduce the consumers/borrowers into bondage, servitude and slavery.
If so, our debt-based monetary system gives us real cause for concern. Yes, we love spending well enough. But do we love spending well enough to voluntarily agree to become slaves?
For most of us, the answer is No. (At least, it should be.)
Are government, central banks and the debt-based monetary system really here to “help us”? Or are they here to enslave us?
• During the Great Recession, consumers didn’t rise to the bait of near-zero interest rates to the degree needed to create enough new debt to both stimulate the economy back to full production and support the debt-based monetary system.
Apparently, the trauma of the Great Recession taught the people a lesson. Excessive debt cost them their homes, cars and even jobs. Many learned to eschew debt. They defaulted (OMG!) on some debts (mortgages) and thereby destroyed some of their “paper wealth”. They paid off existing debt (and destroyed more “paper wealth”). They refused to take out enough new debt to create enough new “paper wealth” to adequately stimulate and support our debt-based monetary Ponzi scheme.
Perhaps the people (some of them) had begun to faintly sense the trap inherent in debt. Maybe, sensing the debt trap and its ultimate consequence (slavery), some people began to curb their appetite for debt-based spending.
Whatever the reason, without enough new debt, the debt-based monetary system continued to flounder and the Great Recession dragged on.
Because the Fed’s monetary policy failed to entice enough Americans back into debt, the government has had to step in with fiscal policy to borrow more in order to spend more on military, infrastructure and health care to try to create enough new debt to sustain our debt-based Ponzi scheme. President Trump promises to lower taxes and increase spending on infrastructure and military. But can Trump both lower taxes and increase spending without going deeper into debt? Probably not.
Implication? Since he was elected, Trump may have learned that the debt-based monetary system will collapse unless government dives deeper into debt. The man who promised to cut the National Debt will be forced to increase it.
I could be mistaken, but I bet we’ll see an economic collapse unless Trump increases the National Debt by at least 70% (from $20 trillion to $34 trillion) over the next eight years. Even that might not be enough to forestall disaster (also known as “justice”). I can’t prove and I have nothing to go on but my “gut”–but in my heart of hearts, I suspect that a mere, numerical increase in the National Debt by 10% or 50% or even 70% won’t be enough to feed the debt-based monetary system and postpone an economic collapse. I suspect that in our brave new debt-based monetary system, the debt might have to increase geometrically. Obama nearly doubled the “official” National Debt in eight years from $10.6 trillion to nearly $20 trillion–and all that did was barely keep the economy afloat. Doubling the debt prevented us from sliding into an overt economic depression. But, for the most part, doubling the debt did not bring us back to prosperity. So, I’m left to wonder whether the mathematics of a debt-based monetary system will force Trump to double the National Debt again in the next eight years to something like $40 trillion. If so, that’s not even possible.
Whether the National Debt must be doubled or increased by 50% or even 25% is not a critical question. The question is How much more debt can we create before debt becomes so obviously irrational that it can’t be increased further. I don’t think Trump can add enough debt to keep the debt-based monetary system functioning. I don’t think Trump can find enough lenders anywhere on earth who are able and willing to lend another $14 trillion (that they know will never be repaid) to good ol’ Uncle Sam.
More, once government runs out of “greater fools” (lenders) and exhausts all of its credit, it will reach the real “debt ceiling limit” (not the one Congress dithers about) and the whole system will fall. Congress set a debt ceiling limit on the maximum that the government can ask to borrow. The real debt ceiling limit, however, is the limit set by creditors who ultimately refuse to lend more currency to the government.
I doubt that the “Day of the Real Debt Ceiling” is very far off into the future.
• Again, I can’t (yet) prove it, but I have a very high level of suspicion that, in a debt-based monetary system, the total sum of debt entering the system must continue to rise (as in any Ponzi scheme) or the scheme collapses.
More, I doubt that it’s enough for the debt to merely rise arithmetically as from $1 trillion to, say, $1.25 trillion, to $1.5 trillion, etc.. My gut tells me that in a debt-based monetary system, the total debt must rise geometrically (or nearly so) from, say, $1 trillion to $2 trillion to $4 trillion to $8 (or even $16) trillion, etc. If my gut is roughly correct, our debt-based monetary system is already very near to the end of its road.
Obama doubled the National Debt from roughly $10 trillion to $20 trillion in eight years. Will the nature of the debt-based monetary system require Trump to double it again to $40 trillion in the next eight years? Is that sort of increase even possible except by means of hyperinflation? Will the debt-based monetary system require an annual National Debt increase of just $1 trillion per year. Even if that’s all that’s required, is such increase even possible? I don’t think so.
We’re in big trouble.
• The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns that the debt will double by A.D. 2047—thirty years from now. The idea that the calamity is (at least) 30 years away will give most people some sense of relief. There’s still plenty of time to party, buy now and pay later, right?
Maybe. But I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ve got another 30 years to borrow and spend. If we have five years, I’ll be surprised. If we have even three years, I’ll be surprised. I won’t be surprised if the whole thing blows up within the next twelve months.
However, the CBO has issued similar warnings for years, and doomsday has not appeared. Some say this is merely the calm before the storm. Others hope that policy changes could kick the can further down the road, or even reverse the government’s fiscal direction.
I don’t share that hope. I believe that while some sort of fiscal “reversal” might be possible in an asset–based monetary system, no such “reversal” is possible in our current, debt-based monetary system. I believe a debt-based monetary system has an insatiable appetite for ever-larger amounts of debt. I believe that if we stop diving deeper into debt, our debt-based monetary system will collapse.
It’s obvious and apparent that there must be a limit somewhere on how much debt any entity can “promise” to repay. You can’t go from $1 million to $1 billion, to $1 trillion, to $1 quadrillion, to $1 sextillion without eventually reaching a point where everyone agrees that this is crazy and finally quits the game and suffers the inevitable calamity.
Again, I think we’re rapidly approaching that debt limit.
If I’m right, whenever the government’s capacity to go deeper into debt is reached, the debt-based monetary system must die.
• Well, what’d y’ think?
Did you find this article interesting? Persuasive? Convincing?
Hopefully, it was “interesting”. But, probably, it was not “convincing”.
Why? Because I haven’t yet quite worked out the real reason why I suspect that the debt-based monetary system needs ever increasing amounts of debt. That’s the key to my whole argument. While I sense that “key,” I can’t yet articulate the “key” with much clarity.
That’s why this article is Part I.
Soon, I’ll publish Part II and offer my hypothesis on why the debt-based monetary system and debt-based economy depend on more debt and the fractional reserve banking to survive.