The stock market is setting records, unemployment is relatively low, inflation is low, and America’s economy is churning along. Lots of reasons to be happy if you’re rich. But we’ve got a $20 trillion Sword of Damocles hanging over our collective heads.
America’s GDP is somewhere north of $18.5 trillion, and increased over the 2nd quarter of 2017 at an annual rate of 3.0 percent (over the 1.2 percent of the first quarter), while the PCE price index went up by only 0.3 percent.
Though it’s encouraging to see the economy growing at a reasonable rate, it’s very troubling to see the federal government’s debt exceeding the nation’s GDP. In business, nobody ever wants to owe more than they produce, unless those debts are tied to solid and appreciating assets.
Of course, the value of the United States’ real estate far exceeds the national debt, right? Well, actually, no. The value of all land (in 2009 dollars) was estimated at $23 trillion by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in a 2015 report.
Essentially, the federal government has mortgaged all the land in the country, including Washington D.C. and every bit of property the federal government owns (about $1.8 trillion according to the report).
Your home may have a mortgage, but the government has also mortgaged your land, and every dollar produced by every company in America is mortgaged and attached by the federal debt.
In business, we call this situation “insolvency.” Companies that believe they can grow their way out of insolvency have to sit in front a room full of creditors and bankers and explain how this works. Frequently, the bankers don’t buy it.
But the U.S. government is too big to fail, and therefore China, Saudi Arabia and other debt holders aren’t about to call Congress on the carpet to explain how we get out of insolvency. That’s the job of the electorate–we’re the ones being mortgaged and co-signed on the debt our government has piled up.
It is unconscionable and immoral for our federal government to continue to lead us into insolvency. If you look at history, when powerful nations embark down a road of insolvency, ultimately it leads to war.
The U.S. has no shortage of natural resources. We are the most productive nation on earth in food, energy, and innovation. Trump and Bannon’s answer to the national debt is to grow our way out of it by making better trade agreements. That means selling America’s resources at a higher price to foreign buyers. If it only worked that way in reality, if only “America, incorporated” could simply raise the price of food, natural gas, oil, and intellectual property, we’d all be drinking wine and smelling roses.
But it doesn’t work that way, does it? Corporations in America have foreign capital investments, and many are owned and headquartered offshore. Much of America’s enormous productive capacity is pledged to foreign owners profit expectations. That’s how a free market works.
The only way to force companies to fall in line with a nationalist economic policy is to…well, force them. In historical political science-y and economic terms, that’s called “fascism,” where the government sets the economic priorities for each market and companies must comply or be nationalized.
A nationalized economy does not suit America, where liberty and opportunity are valued above cultural homogeneity. Where the left would impose that hegemony over American social values, our federal government and the economic nationalists led by Steve Bannon would impose it on our corporate values. Neither solution can work in the U.S.
In the end, either foreign capitalists will continue to draw profits out of America, in an unending spiral of unpayable mortgages until someone calls a debt (provoking war); or we will impose unacceptable barriers to free trade, which will cause consumer prices to skyrocket, in a cycle of punitive tariffs and restrictive trade agreements. This will eventually lead some nation that the U.S. forces an ultimatum of forgiving defaulted debt or resource starvation to begin a war.
It might be an economic war at first, but such things usually lead to a shooting war. This is how Japan ended up in World War II. It’s how North Korea might react if all other options are removed. It’s how China will react as they continue to build their power and military.
By mortgaging America, our federal government is placing our nation at odds with practically every country in the world. Even Canada and Mexico, faced with renegotiating NAFTA, will side against an America with $30 trillion in federal debt and $25 trillion in GDP.
Our federal debt more than doubled since 2007. In another 10 years, it’s entirely possible we will see this scenario in our faces, especially if Trump remains in office 2024.
The federal government must, for the sake of our nation and our liberty, stop this disastrous debt spending. Insolvency is no way to run a business, or a government.