Why Democracies Will Always Go Bankrupt
by Gonzalo Lira
Thu, 13 Jan 2011
When I was growing up, finance was mother’s milk to me, especially as I was a bit of a math geek. But for my formal education, I was trained—rather rigorously, and in spite of my laziness—as a philosopher and a historian. This odd combination is why I have such a jaundiced view of economics: I don’t find economics particularly intimidating, or even particularly challenging—it’s just finance’s snooty but poor (and slightly daft) older cousin. History’s surprisingly ignorant and blinkered accountant. Philosophy and Math’s lightly retarded, Puritanically rigid, and altogether rather embarrassing spawn.
Now, it’s all good and fine for me to rant about how useless economics is—but these aren’t empty complaints on my part: I can point to a single, specific, monumental failing of economics—a failure in the discipline which pretty much proves my point:
The United States is going bankrupt—and economics cannot explain why.
In fact, a surprisingly large number of economists choose to ignore the problem of America’s looming bankruptcy altogether; or claim there is something called a “structural deficit” (a highfalutin way of pretending that it cannot be fixed, and therefore doesn’t need fixing); or else—as is the case of the fools backing Modern Monetary Theory—they make the claim that all deficits are just debts the government owes itself, so therefore the American government cannot go broke, so therefore—and let’s ring out the QED—the fiscal over-indebtedness is actually not a problem because it doesn’t even actually exist!
They really do claim that. And no, they are not high.