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Debt is Debt

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Christian Science Monitor:

Decrying the exorbitant debt that Americans ran up prior to the current recession, Joseph Stiglitz rightly says that “We shouldn’t go back to living beyond our means in the US, which is what created the crisis to begin with” (“US economy needs a second stimulus,” Jan. 22).

But by advising Congress to “pass a second stimulus” – to engage in even more deficit spending – Mr. Stiglitz himself counsels not only that we continue to live beyond our means, but that we do so even more recklessly than before.

Note to Mr. Stiglitz: If it’s irresponsible for me and my neighbors to choose to spend beyond our means, then it’s no less irresponsible for Congress, allegedly an agent of me and my neighbors, to force us to spend beyond our means.  Either way, as consumers or as taxpayers, the bill will come due for goods and services that we ought not have consumed.

Only by unthinkingly presuming government to be some kind of transcendental entity, exempt from many laws of reality, does someone as bright as Mr. Stiglitz stumble into such confusion and inconsistency.

Donald J. Boudreaux