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"The Case Against Government Debt - PERIOD"

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Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:45 | 1196656 vast-dom
vast-dom's picture

this our government produces WASTE. 

a government must produce efficient REGULATIONS (for big biz and Fed).

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:07 | 1196762 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

only in the movies...



Fri, 04/22/2011 - 23:12 | 1198305 illyia
Sat, 04/23/2011 - 14:13 | 1199405 Re-Discovery
Re-Discovery's picture

+ 14.7 trillion

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 22:26 | 1198206 Tail Dogging The Wag
Tail Dogging The Wag's picture

"Investors need to diversify, they need to own some real estate, they need to own some farmland, they need to own some equities, some cash, and some precious metals..."   Marc Faber —Investment analyst

Got real estate and farmland outside your home country yet?


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:45 | 1196662 D1eeeeeNAHHHHH
D1eeeeeNAHHHHH's picture

Great summary of what needs to happen Tyler.  Nice work once again!

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:04 | 1196748 Dr_Dazed
Dr_Dazed's picture

Come on guys - the Government produces nothing?  How about the legitimate national security role?  How about the enforcement of the rule of law (well, we have some current problems there)?  This argument is silly beyond belief.  Third grade philosophy.


Junk away.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:30 | 1196872 MrPalladium
MrPalladium's picture

Dazed you are!!

Legitimate national defense and enforcing the law are social costs. They do not produce wealth, although they are necessary to foster the production of wealth in transactions between strangers in nations encompassing more than one tribe or ethnic group.

Government produces nothing. A legitimate government seeks ways to minimize the costs of its legitmate functions.

Democratic governments always and everwhere end up maximizing costs by undertaking illegitimate functions, principally buying votes under the guise of providing services or relieving distress and poverty, or as Joseph Tainter would say in "The Collapse of Complex Societies," legitimization expenditures.

Collapse to a lower order of complexity and cost always involves the dismantling of democracy and the substitution of a much less expensive form of government legitimized by crisis and collapse.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 19:21 | 1197835 Dr_Dazed
Dr_Dazed's picture

I beg to differ still.  Few if any "things" are purely physical "goods" or "services".  While the balance between these components, along with tangibility and intangibility components, better define the "products" subject to "exchange" as put forward in the initial post.  You state that, for example, defense is a "social cost" I fail to see how you can impute a cost when nothing is gained in the exchange i.e. security, a "product" probably worth paying for.  Just because you choose to define security as a "cost" does not make the production of the good or service illegitimate.

I haven't read Mr. Tainter and doubt I will alas.  Most of the political / sociological theorists don't hold my interest.  Specifically I have read most of the "social economists" and a lot of complexity theorists (Durham, Lumsden and Willson, Baum and Singh, Casti and Karlqvist and so on) and I find the theorists like Jared Diamond to be relatively shallow and not worth the trouble.


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 20:03 | 1197933 Tidewater
Tidewater's picture

Not sure what "third grade philosophy" is, but here's some elementary-school civics: Neither the military nor the police is the government in America.

Your broader point seems to be that government has a role. Of course it does.

But you don't need "complexity theorists" to get at the basic point here: Government's role in this country is not to consume the society, including through the issuance of a crippling debt burden. (Or the issuance of regulations that encroach upon basic, and protected, civil activity, for example.)

The article's interesting take was to frame it in the context of political forces unchecked by market forces. A debt-financed take-under.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 22:54 | 1198277 FrankDrakman
FrankDrakman's picture

You are both correct, in varying degrees. Yes, the police/army is NOT "the government"; they are however "arms" of the government. (Pun intended) So are the courts, the legislatures, etc. These functions of government create a framework where people and business can (theoretically) thrive. If this is not a "real product", then what exactly do psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists produce?

The best example I can think of is the Philippines. I've visited there many times. The country is exceptionally fertile, the people are decent and hardworking, and most speak passable English. You'd think (especially with all their ties to the US) that they would have booming economy.

But they don't, and the single most important reason is there is no constant rule of law in the country. Corruption is rife from the smallest barrio to the Senate, and as soon as someone gets a little something, there's no end of "government" crooks (along with assorted real ones) trying to get their mitts on it.

In English North America, I'm pretty sure I can start a business without having to pay off six government officials, the police chief, and the local army commander, failing which my children might be kidnapped or my business burned down - I saw both happen in the Phils. (I haven't tried to start a business in New Orleans, though..)

However, I have some sympathy for the article's thrust, which is the reckless spending and borrowing by the federal government is going to end the US as we know it, one way or another.


Sat, 04/23/2011 - 00:26 | 1198414 trav7777
trav7777's picture

this is the rule in most places, and why the western white "rule of law" is so exceptional.

Corruption, however, is infecting everywhere.  I was talking to a belgian businessman in serbia whose problem to get some business running was to "find the guy whose hands I need to put the $400,000 into"

Corruption like this leads to and persists dark ages

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 16:56 | 1197506 riphowardkatz
riphowardkatz's picture

Is national defense consumption or production? Since my public education included no philosophy I need your help.

Sat, 04/23/2011 - 19:31 | 1198775 rwe2late
rwe2late's picture


You are 100% correct.

The oft-repeated contention that  "government produces NOTHING" is patently false.

It is ridiculous to claim that alleged private workers doing the same tasks as government workers are "producing", but government workers would not be.

Thus, public teachers, etc. are not "producing", but private workers doing the same jobs would be..

Thus, the Army Corps of Engineers building a dam, or city workers repairing a street etc, are supposedly not producing, but private workers would be.

Thus Goldman Sachs workers "produce" because they are "private", but government lawyers, accountants, and regulators supposedly by definition do not simply because they are "public".

All too many are misled by a false, but popularly portrayed, rigid economic dichotomy of "public' and "private". The marketplace, the rules of commerce, liability, property, ownership, etc. are defined by societal agreement or acceptance, i.e. "government".  

Those societal rules for the economy may be established and enforced by a brigand and mafia-run government, or presumably by a government more benevolent and democratic in nature.

Those who merely see the problem as "government" creating the mafia, but not the mafioso creating "government", fail to comprehend the dialectical relationship between the two.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:47 | 1196668 redpill
redpill's picture

After you're done reading Privateer, I recommend picking up a copy of Mutineer :) 


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:52 | 1196683 cossack55
cossack55's picture

WTF? No articles about MD 20/20.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:52 | 1196673 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Want to know why?  Read The Creature From Jekyll Island.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:55 | 1196698 forexskin
forexskin's picture


i bought a case and passed them out 3 years ago. only one who didn't get it is my lawyer who majored in economics before law school - called it tinfoil hat stuff. (kinda nice as a litmus test)

buy loads, and hand them out.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:15 | 1196785 TomGa
TomGa's picture

Video online (at least until April 29th when GoogleVideos shuts down):

The Birth of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank - How usury destroyed America


"Based on Mr. Griffin's book of the same title [The Creature from Jekyll Island], this address will shatter your old ideas about money and change the way you view the world. 1998 lecture."

Sat, 04/23/2011 - 01:18 | 1198483 tiger7905
tiger7905's picture

Interesting clip, thanks.

Latest from Martin Armstrong, covers QE2 and how gold will move up in the next wave.


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:48 | 1196675 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Who cares about the debt ceiling? The dollar is about to go supernova!


Central bank adviser says yuan appreciation necessary


Yuan revaluation bitchez!

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:54 | 1196705 Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden's picture

"Gradual". The CNY fixing is at a record as is. A 10% move will wreak havoc on China's export economy, where margins already are razor thin.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:06 | 1196742 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

My guess as well.  A 10% jump in price of Chinese bearings would kill that business.  

"Price, Nothing Else".

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:21 | 1196819 1fortheroad
1fortheroad's picture

From another poster.

Rumor: China To Revalue Yuan 10% This Weekend?



Fri, 04/22/2011 - 16:46 | 1197459 bushboy
bushboy's picture

This would be very bearish for the AUD I imagine.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:11 | 1196773 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

And because that's what Ben wanted, we are pretty sure it won't cause extra inflation...

so debt ceiling increase...

rate increase?...

Yuan rise...




Sat, 04/23/2011 - 08:39 | 1198680 css1971
css1971's picture

I's been moving about ~4%pa, giving a 17 year half period. Maybe they ment to allow it to float by 10%, giving a 7 year period. It accelerated mid March.



Just a thought. Have we found QE3?

This may have been what QE2 was about. Break the peg. Course the stagflation would be horrible for a while. Even higher commodity prices, the chinese getting rid of their treasuries as they devalue and buying stuff with their dollars. Which means higher coupons.

Chinese products become more expensive and jobs start being created... Back in America? Really? Not Vietnam or elsewhere?


Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:06 | 1196761 Lord Welligton
Lord Welligton's picture

If that is real then silver/gold, indeed all commodities should rise against the dollar. No?

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:13 | 1196781 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

First against the dollar because the dollar will break

Than Chinese investors will flee into commodities because the Yuan will go back down because their reserves would go down.




Sat, 04/23/2011 - 05:54 | 1198618 css1971
css1971's picture

They won't have to flee. A stronger Renminbi will allow the Chinese to bid commodities (everything) substantially higher in dollar terms.


$150 oil here we come.

See all that inflation America hasn't had over the last decade or two? It's on it's way.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:48 | 1196677 cossack55
cossack55's picture

I like it. Short, succinct, accurate and no charts or graphs. 

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:51 | 1196678 Cyan Lite
Cyan Lite's picture

Actually, the gov't does a pretty nice job of creating wealth.  The Federal Reserve has created trillions in wealth for certain bankers.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:52 | 1196691 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

The FED is a private entity.  Therefore the argument holds.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:56 | 1196711 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

And even it doesn't create wealth, it creates dollars that are used to transfer/consume wealth.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:07 | 1196750 Vagabond
Vagabond's picture


Sat, 04/23/2011 - 05:47 | 1198614 css1971
css1971's picture

the gov't does a pretty nice job of creating wealth

ITYM "moving wealth"

Government is a service. It provides some useful services in a way that others can't or won't. But I don't see why it would need to run up a national debt. A national debt, certainly a permanent one is just cowardice and expediency on the part of the politicians.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:49 | 1196680 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

The borrower may end up in jail

In the absence of fruad, I dont think this is true.  Debter prisions, once all the rage, have gone away.  I believe a contract is civil law and not criminal.  That being said, there are lots of people sitting in jail for failing to pay their government debt (taxes).  Though I guess taxes are not a contract per se since you do not enter willfully.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:51 | 1196689 cossack55
cossack55's picture

"I like the way you think"

Sam Kinison

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 19:57 | 1197920 The 22nd Prime
The 22nd Prime's picture

Sam who?

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:58 | 1196719 SilverFiend
SilverFiend's picture

I'm afraid debtor's prison is alive and well in the U.S.



Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:02 | 1196733 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

Excellent article.  It would seem the golden rule is the only law still alive and well.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:59 | 1196721 Chuck Bone
Chuck Bone's picture

Try student loans. Can't discharge them through bankruptcy, so the state mandates you pay. If you can't do so without maintaining a minimum standard of living, they still will make you pay some sort of payment a month? If you decide not to pay even the minimum or what a court mandates, you can be subject to all sorts of penalties. Tax refunds can be withheld, you can lose social security payments, you can be turned over to a collection agency and sued, your wages garnished.  The government may not license you if you are a doctor or lawyer, and in that regard they will imprison you for disobeying.

Debtors prison is alive and well, and is behind an enormous debt bubble that has yet to pop.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 15:03 | 1197022 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

What about taking a small job... then take a home loan... then buy a small house with it... then use the surplus to pay your student loan and then default?

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 15:10 | 1197086 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

You need to look at the laws regarding forebearance...  hell, doctors get a fucking discharge of student loans...  you need to read the fine print, not the headlines.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 15:04 | 1197043 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Even if you fail to pay the proper amount of income taxes, you'll still likely stay out of prison...  the issue is largely for people who refuse to file...  the willful avoiders...  and generally, this is reserved for the bigger $ evaders.  [and by bigger I mean the middle of the road as far as evaders go, but in the 5 figures at least range...  and typically only for those folks who can't foot the bill].

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:53 | 1196688 nah
nah's picture



we cant tax the rich people enough to pay off americas debt... they created to many poor worthless assholes to blame it on that vote for politicians who constantly subsidize rich peoples 'opinions'

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 13:56 | 1196694 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Misses the whole point of government. The ideas of Government took literally centuries to evolve, government, that is at least government 'by the people for the people' is to safe guard the rights of the individual and one of those rights is to be able to exchange goods and services for pay be that gold or fiat. It wasn't so many centuries ago only a few had those rights and everyone else was a serf. Sure we have  huge waste but we have huge corruption of government.Take away the corruption and political, religious hacks and everything with government will work as intended.

 If persons like the author ever succeed in such naive ideas , we will return to the age of brute power/force/plunder over human rights.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:02 | 1196715 thedrickster
thedrickster's picture

My thoughts on democracy, a collective force of brute power & plunder, the God That Failed:


Furthermore, when in recent history has this government done anything even resembling the safeguard of natural rights?

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:01 | 1196722 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

The only form of government that has the capacity, let alone the ability to protect the rights of the individual, is self-government. Which is why it was the basis of the experiment known as the US republic.

Anything else is just a madman with a gun.

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:04 | 1196745 Segestan
Segestan's picture

Maybe... but the point is Government is a means for the citizens to gain equality under law.

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