The debt ceiling “debate” will be uglier than ever and fiscal conservatism will cave as always under relentless social and emotional extortion. This will continue until the sheer weight of debt breaks the economy’s back. It’s inevitable. There’s nothing in the dynamic to indicate otherwise, because no one recognizes the dynamic in the first place. That this mess is even called a “debate” proves our ignorance. Debate. Uh-huh.
Have you ever “debated” an addict jonesing for his next fix?
This is our current situation: responsible but ignorant adults are arguing with addicts. You want to rein in deficit spending? Well, Greg Sargent doesn’t. He’s an influential cheerleader of the left and the Administration likes him. So go ahead, contend with this paragon of progressive thought. Here’s his argument:
Everyone who’s dealt with an addict has heard that before. But you know what? He’s absolutely correct. A man with that attitude who makes that argument doesn’t have the problem. He is the problem.
Is debt the problem? No, it’s merely a symptom of deficit spending. True, it’s a lethal symptom that’s killing the economy, but it’s still a consequence, not a cause. Then deficit spending is the problem? No, it’s merely the drug; it even has a medicinal use. Imagine waging World War II without deficit spending.
Imagine surgery without painkillers.
Deficit spending is neither good nor bad, just as morphine is neither good nor bad. They’re just things. One is a horribly addictive economic drug and the other a chemical one, but they share certain properties and a single legitimate function. Abusus non tollit usum; the abuse does not deny the use.
Against trauma, painkillers can prevent shock from otherwise unbearable stress. In this sole situation, extremely large doses can be taken with no fear of addiction. That’s because doses decrease as the danger does, and go away entirely when the crisis has passed. This keeps a drug associated with the trauma it alleviates. If people only associated morphine with amputations, or if only war, famine, and pestilence could make societies turn to deficit spending, these drugs would be unalloyed blessings.
The only safe use for addictive painkillers is to kill shock, not pain. But it is also hard–so very, very hard–to keep drugs locked up in the cabinet while people moan and scream for relief. But when compassion…or relentless social and emotional extortion…cause us to relent, we ensure addiction. Not for everyone, of course. But guess what? About half of America is now addicted to deficit spending. The other half? It doesn’t know what to do, apart from arguing. Arguing with addicts.
Our current debt is equivalent to America’s at the end of WWII. But the difference between those debts is the difference between taking morphine for battlefield surgery, and taking it for pleasure. The Greatest Generation recovered because it understood the dangers of decifit spending.
Unfortunately, its children didn’t.
(Part Two: THE ADDICTS.)