We Need to Talk About This Debt Thing

So the United States officially has a national debt of twenty trillion dollars. Forbes recently did the math and, based on the estimate that Taylor Swift earned $80 million last year, Taylor Swift would have to do one concert every single day for three years just to pay one day of interest on the national debt. That’s right–such a figure wouldn’t even cut into the principal. It would simply pay one day of interest. After three years of daily performances, one of the most successful singers in the world would be able to pay one day of the interest on the national debt.

This is not a problem that people take very seriously, because it’s so out there, it’s so… intangible. We have no idea how the national debt is a force crushing our necks. We know that the economy sucks, and we all sense that something is wrong, but it’s so hard to connect it to the national debt, especially when humans are naturally poorly skilled at connecting events over long periods of time. That’s not a shot at my fellow species, but a statement of fact. After all, it has taken us decades to realize that the direct correlation in the increase in high fructose corn syrup and the increase in the rates of diabetes and obesity probably aren’t coincidental. Our species is short-sighted. We simply are.

Looking backward in time and connecting Event Z to Event Y to Event X… all the way back to Event A is exceedingly difficult, and it’s even more difficult when we’re talking about the economy, when most people’s eyes glaze over and they start hearing Taylor Swift songs in their heads while the guy from the old Clear Eyes commercials drones on about aggregates and derivatives. However, I’m hear to tell you that none of that crap actually matters. The national debt, its increase, its effect on the size of the state, and its impact on inflation aren’t that complex, and it’s hopefully something I can convey simply.

First, with something like the leading paragraph being true, it must be obvious to you that American taxpayers are not footing that bill–at least not directly. According to this Bloomberg article, the income tax debt of 2014 was $1.4 trillion. Divided across roughly 300,000,000 people, that’s only $4.66 per person. Something seems off about that, but I don’t know what. Oh. Yeah, I do. It’s that the government spent $3.77 trillion. It’s also that only people who earned $50,000 or more paid in anything at all, which only makes about about 40% of the population–at best.

The difference, though, between “how much the government steals through taxation” and “how much the government” spends isn’t really of that much significance, although it’s worth pointing out that if we cut the defense budget completely then the $677 billion deficit from 2014 would almost completely evaporate. How interesting that our deficit each year is so very close to the “defense” spending. None of this is really important, though.

What’s important to know is this: the government spends a lot more money than it gets through taxation.

Fuck, I knew those numbers were way off, but I’m going to fix it here instead of amending it above to make a point. The actual figure is $4,666.67 per American citizen, at 300,000,000. I was dropping three zeroes accidentally. So if every man, woman, other, and child paid $4,666.67 in taxes, we could have fairly met the IRS’s tax demands. Of course, that wouldn’t have satisfied them, since the government spent $3.56 trillion that year, so we’d still have only had about half of what they needed. See? It’s really not that complicated.

So every man, woman, and child would need to pay $9332~, if I’m just looking at the figure and doing a very rough doubling, to come up with about what the IRS needed. Nearly $10,000 for every man, woman, and child to run the government for one year. Mostly. It would still have to cut about 2-3% of its spending.

Of course, there’s that whole stupid idea that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, but that’s such a ridiculous statement, compounding an absurd way of viewing the world. Taxes as a percentage are useless. When you go to Wal-Mart and fill your basket with enough food to feed your family for a week, they don’t ask for 30% of your paycheck, do they? We don’t live in a world where each paycheck we spend:

  • 7% on gasoline.
  • 12% on various types of insurance.
  • 35% on rent/mortgage and utilities.
  • 25% on groceries/food.
  • 15% on taxes.
  • 6% to go out once a month.

That’s not the world we live in. And thank whatever deity you believe in that we don’t live in that world, because it’s impossible to move forward in that world–no matter how wealthy you become, no matter how successful you become, you will never be able to move ahead, to generate savings, to earn a profit against life. That’s an appalling world, and none of us would want to live in it. So be thankful that when you go to Wal-Mart, they don’t crack open your paycheck and say, “Hm, you earned $1,000 this week, which amounts to 25% of your check–give us $250.” No, we live in a world where you can cut out coupons, buy generic brands, and all sorts of crap to save money–to cut your food costs to 15% rather than 25%.

But in this one area, we forget that and start talking about tax liabilities as percentages as though it makes any more sense. It doesn’t. It’s still just as ridiculous. I went into the folly of this type of thinking a bit in this video, but I’ll briefly go over once again.

This is always used to suggest that “the rich” aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes, when the reality is that either a. the rich are paying their fair share and we are not, or b. the rich are paying well and above their fair share.

Evidently it takes between $2 million and $3 million to pave one mile of a new 2-lane, undivided highway. Let’s assume the lower end of that–two million dollars. Let’s assume that this new highway is going to be packed with taxpayers–one thousand of them on this one mile of highway. We can already see that this is not actually “rural” and would have to be extremely urban, while this estimate deals with rural highways, but let’s go with it.

It will cost each of those taxpayers $2,000 to pave that highway. Holy crap, right? Each and every one of those one thousand people has to scrimp and save and come up with their share of the $2,000. That is what’s fair. Of course, in reality, if those people actually had to pay for that road, this is what they would do:

  1. Most of them would volunteer their own off-hours to help construct the road.
  2. They would shop around and find the cheapest deal, and would probably get the figure cut down drastically.
  3. Between doing a lot of the work themselves and shopping around, they’d probably get the amount of payment required down to $200,000 or so.
  4. They would probably petition local business owners, granting them some sort of special access to the road, or special properties on the road, in exchange for larger payments. “If you pay $10,000 of it, we’ll make sure your employees are never ticketed on it, and we’ll make sure that you can open a new office along this stretch of highway.”

It’s hard for us to even imagine such things, but it would happen. No one is more cautious with their money than the person that money belongs to. I proved it today, when my colleague told me to buy some crap with his credit card. I splurged a bit and bought some things I’d never buy if I was spending my own money. It only cost him $6, of course, but that’s still $6 I would never, ever have spent if it was my money. But I didn’t have to pay for it, so I basically wasted it–I enjoyed it, of course, and he knew I would waste it, so it’s not like I did anything messed up. The point is–people aren’t careful with other people’s money, and the government definitely isn’t.

But there’s this idea that taxes are a percentage thing, and that everyone should be charged 10% to pay for the road. This means Jack the burger flipper pays $75 for the road, while Eric the millionaire business owner pays $225,000. This, the leftist says, might mean that the millionaire paid his fair share. More likely, the leftist isn’t happy and thinks the millionaire should have had to pay more. And if we lived in a world where Wal-Mart charged you a flat 25% of all your money when you checked out, the leftist would have a point. But in a world where Wal-Mart charges you an actual dollar figure based on what you’re actually buying, they don’t. Is Eric going to use the road 3,000 times more than Jack is?

No. In reality, Eric is paying far more than his “fair share” so that Jack doesn’t have to pay his fair share. Obviously. They’re going to use the road about the same; they need the road to the same degree. Yet Eric is paying three thousand times what Jack is paying, for exactly the same product. If the millionaire bought one week of food at Wal-Mart and paid $14,500 while Jack bought one week at Wal-Mart and paid $14.50, we wouldn’t have a hard time seeing how the millionaire was clearly being gouged by Wal-Mart, and that Wal-Mart was doing it simply because they knew that Eric had that much money and could afford it.

It’s so messed up it’s not worth more discussion. Taxes as a percentage is a grotesque and greedy notion. The only “fair share” of taxes that could be paid–if we forget, for the moment, that taxation is theft–is an actual dollar figure. Taxes as a percentage means that some people are paying their fair share, some people (the poor) are not paying their fair share, and some people (the rich) are paying far beyond their fair share. I know it bothers the leftist to be told that, but this is the truth; this is reality. This is how fairness as a concept actually works. You can’t price gouge the millionaire simply because he has the money and then proclaim that it’s fair. It’s not–it’s price gouging the millionaire. There’s nothing “fair” about it.

Anyway, taxation is theft.

That preamble is critical to this discussion, because it’s important for us to recognize that it’s not fair to look at the Taylor Swifts, Metallicas, Marilyn Mansons, Bill Gateses, and expect them to pay huge chunks of money so that we don’t have to. Under the statist propaganda and mindset, the “fair share” of the national debt is a dollar figure doled out among each and every American citizen, not some of them proportional to how much money they made. As I amply demonstrated above, there is nothing fair, just, or moral about that; everything about it is unfair, unjust, and immoral.

As it stands with a twenty trillion dollar national debt, that’s a bill being sent to every American citizen for $66,666.67.

One has to squint at all those sixes.

But even if every single American paid the government every single dollar they had, do you know what would happen?

We would still be in debt.

This is because of a couple of things–primarily, that most Americans are in debt personally to banks for credit cards, houses, and vehicles. That’s the nature of a debt-based currency, and the USD is a debt-based currency, through and through. If every single dollar that everyone owed was paid back, we would still be in debt, and Interest is the reason why. The entire currency is a game of musical chairs–there are never enough chairs, and someone always gets left standing. This threatens to divert into a related topic, though, so I’m going to get back to the national debt.

So how is the government to pay for its stuff, if it can’t tax everyone to pay for it? Why, that’s simple. It borrows the money.

Imagine if you borrowed $1,000 to do the stuff you wanted to do, which, with 1% interest, means you have to pay back $1,010. You manage to make about $300 doing that, but you want to continue doing the stuff you want to do. So you borrow $2,000 and pay back the $1,010 from the first loan, and then have $1290 to do what you want to do. A year later, you have to pay back $2020, but you only made $320 from your endeavor. So you borrow $3,000. You now make only $230, but a year later have to pay back $3030. To keep your operating expenses where they were, you actually have to borrow $4100 this time, to pay back the $3030 and make up for the $100 you didn’t make back in the last year. Each year, your debt increases.

With the intricacies of a national economy, taxation, and all that, it’s not that cut and dry, but that is the gist of what’s going on. After more than a century of doing this, the United States Government has worked its way up to a twenty trillion dollar debt–a debt that we can’t possibly pay off, and a debt that we the American People shouldn’t even be worried about paying off. The government did that, not us.

The United States GDP for 2013 was just over seventeen trillion dollars. The data for 2015 shows that we nearly reached $18 trillion. For 2016 thus far is about $18.5 trillion. Now, if I know anything about figuring out which number is bigger than the other number, this means that the national debt actually exceeds the GDP of the United States.

In literal terms, this means that allllll the productivity of alllllll the American people is exceeded by the amount of money that people in Washington, D.C. are spending. This means that a relatively small number of people have managed to spend more than the entire freaking country produces. This means that all the industriousness, productivity, creativity, ingenuity, and excellence of the American People has been matched and exceeded by government spending.

These ticks have managed to engorge themselves to the point that they are consuming more blood than the dog even has.

You don’t have to be a veterinarian to realize that tick is gonna kill that dog–and sooner, rather than later.

2 thoughts on “We Need to Talk About This Debt Thing

  1. “But there’s this idea that taxes are a percentage thing, and that everyone should be charged 10% to pay for the road. This means Jack the burger flipper pays $75 for the road, while Eric the millionaire business owner pays $225,000. This, the leftist says, might mean that the millionaire paid his fair share. More likely, the leftist isn’t happy and thinks the millionaire should have had to pay more. And if we lived in a world where Wal-Mart charged you a flat 25% of all your money when you checked out, the leftist would have a point. But in a world where Wal-Mart charges you an actual dollar figure based on what you’re actually buying, they don’t. Is Eric going to use the road 3,000 times more than Jack is?”

    If Eric owns Wal-Mart, the answer is likely “yes.” And in fact the per gallon gas tax system means that individuals driving passenger cars (which cause very little road wear and tear) subsidize roads for corporations to run heavy trucks (which cause most of the road wear and tear) up and down.

  2. Pingback: Rational Review News Digest, 12/15/16 - Yahoo discloses new data breach affecting one billion accounts - Thomas L. Knapp - Liberty.me

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