Perspectives: Whose debt is it anyway?

OPINION – Anyone who has struggled under the burden of personal debt understands that it can be a very real form of bondage.

Whether that debt is self-imposed or stems from catastrophic issues involving illness or the failure of a business, the life of the debtor is stressful.

Of course, this stress primarily affects only those who have a sense of responsibility. Individuals who place high value on honesty and fidelity will find a way to pay their own debts, even when it is challenging.

This personal character is what distinguishes them from the political class that borrows and spends beyond its means as a matter of course. It is a moral difference that cannot be overstated.

On an individual level, when we seek to eliminate household debt, it’s often necessary to cut back on spending and to stop accumulating new debt. But our leaders at the highest levels of our government have continually taken on more debt by increasing their spending and their promises of more entitlements.

The U.S. national debt is over $17.5 trillion today. This does not include another $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities that politicians have promised to pay out over the next few decades.

To understand why the national debt is growing exponentially and spiraling out of control, consider this explanation from Judge Andrew Napolitano:

Presidents and Congresses don’t worry about paying back the principal or paying the debt service, as long as they can continue to borrow more in order to do so.

As absurd as it sounds, the federal government borrows money in order to pay the debt service on money it has already borrowed and spent.

This means that past and current politicians have borrowed unfathomable sums of money with the expectation that it will be repaid by future generations. But there is a huge moral hazard in creating debt obligations for generations of individuals who had absolutely no say in the matter.

The desire to live at the expense of others is a materialistic trait of human nature that America’s founding generation warned of long ago.

Thomas Jefferson addressed the concept in a letter to James Madison titled “The Earth belongs to the living.” Jefferson wrote:

The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another…is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government.

Jefferson described how a man who sought to bind succeeding generations to the payment of debts that he had incurred could, during his lifetime, eat up the fruits of the labor of several generations to come. His debts should be his own responsibility, not that of his offspring.

Modern politicians pervert the proper role of government by promising benefits to cronies and constituents. Then they support their reckless spending by brazenly borrowing what they cannot extract by force from the populace through taxation.

No amount of political posturing can disguise the kind of scam being legally forced upon tens of millions who could not give their consent.

Jim Quinn pulls no punches when he observes:

The $17 trillion national debt accumulated by elder generations to benefit themselves and $222 trillion of unfunded entitlements promised to themselves is nothing but generational theft. It’s immoral and possibly the most selfish act in human history.

This leaves members of upcoming generations with a decision; bind themselves and their children to lives of debt slavery or repudiate the debt.

The question that hangs over up and coming generations: Whose debt is it anyway?

Do we really have a moral obligation to assume the debts of those who are dead? Did they have any moral right whatsoever to contract debts greater than they could pay off within their own lifetimes?

This is a question that each of us must answer on our own terms. But before answering, we should have a clear understanding that those who would place debts upon the unborn are wicked.

Those who hold the reins of power aren’t likely to change, but the sun will eventually set on their empire. The IRS will continue to confiscate our earnings under the intimidating threat of jail or poverty.

But no matter how much those currently in power try to force their debts upon the rest of us, the upcoming generations will have the final say in the matter.

And they need not feel a shred of guilt for refusing to assume responsibility for a debt that’s not theirs to pay.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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33 Comments

  • Bub March 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

    More Hyde idiocy. Trying to write about things he doesn’t understand…

    • rbrown March 27, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Nice ad hominem.

      Ad hominem attacks are the lowest form of argument. They are typically resorted to when you cannot refute your opponent’s argument.

      • Bub March 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        YUUUUUUUUUPPPPPP, i learned it’s not worth the effort to refute an idiot 😀 what’s that old saying?

  • BSMETER March 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    “Do we really have a moral obligation to assume the debts of those who are dead? Did they have any moral right whatsoever to contract debts greater than they could pay off within their own lifetimes?”
    Don’t buy it if you can’t pay for it.

  • JAR March 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    BUB my friend, what can I say. If you can’t understand what Mr. Hyde is saying, I suggest you continue reading the Sunday funnies as your only source of reality.
    Mr. Hyde is trying to put out there, a human reality resting over your grand kids head.
    So take your ME, ME mentality and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    • Bub March 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      YUUUUUUUUUPPPPPP, i learned it’s not worth the effort to refute an idiot 😀 what’s that old saying?

      • Bub March 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        sorry JAR, the site got weird and ate my comment to u… oh well

  • Joanna March 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Why would upcoming generations feel guilt or responsibility for the debt? Of course they wouldn’t, so why even say that? That’s like telling us not to feel guilty for the mass shooting in CT last year. Why would we? We didn’t shoot anybody. Sigh…I need to just stop reading these articles. I guess I keep hoping that one day they’ll get better.

    • Bub March 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      “I need to just stop reading these articles. I guess I keep hoping that one day they’ll get better.”

      Amen to that sister. A zebra can’t change his stripes and I don’t think Hyde’s articles will get better in my lifetime. If only the doof would stick to writing about chickens…

  • Get a clue March 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    With a name like BUB, one must consider the source. Some think that the world revolves around them, and what satisfies-benifits themselves with no regard for others, society, or even their own families.

    • Bub March 27, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      “Some think that the world revolves around them, and what satisfies-benifits themselves with no regard for others, society, or even their own families.”

      You just described the general right-wing ideology almost perfectly.

  • Roy J March 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I think this is a loaded question. The only correct answer to who should pay the US debt is the US. How we incurred that debt is another question entirely, and also has an answer, which can be found by analyzing where the money coming in to the Federal government is coming from, and where the money is going out to. No small task, surely, but not impossible, either. However, anyone who wishes to blame particular parties for incurring one portion of the nation’s debt or another is, I think, obligated in all fairness to answer the second question prior to assigning blame. To do otherwise is dishonest.

    • Joanna March 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      I like your comment. It also reminds me of that movie “Dave” with Kevin Kline where he sits with the administration, and in one afternoon, with a pad and pencil, finds a way in the budget to save $650 million 🙂

  • Roy J March 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Also it is unfair to talk about generational debt as if it were entirely wicked and wrong. One man saddling his children with debt is not comparable to one executive saddling an enterprise for which he is responsible with debt. The difference lies in contractual responsiblity. Corporate entities carry over and pay on debts incurred by their employees, long after the employee who initially brought the debt into existence has ceased to work for that company. In order to rightly assess why a debt is being passed on from one generation of borrowers to another, the contract would have to be scrutinized. Also, what was purchased with our national debt? Alot of things. Without ever looking at the contracts or laws that created each piece of our national debt, who can fairly say that this or that politician is taking something for himself and allowing another to pay for it? Since that evidence must exist, for most, if not all of the enormous national debt, why is no part of it referenced in this article?

  • McMurphy March 27, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    And will the future generations also repudiate any benefits devolving to them as the result of the spending? I realize that much of the spending was for things that never should have been authorized and that even for things that are the proper role of Govt much spending was excessive. Still, the future generations will inherit (hopefully) a reasonably free, peaceful and prosperous country. How will they place a value on that?

  • JAR March 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    In the early Israeli form of law and humanities, they had a system call the Jubilee Year. ( every fifty years if I read right).
    It was a law/ decree that stated that old or current debts were set to zero on the first day of the Jubilee year. The slave or common folk were set free ( the contracts was abolished). The landowner (boss) took it in the shorts. But the merchants/ landowners knew the stupid ME ME mentality smocks would be back. So everyone was happy in the long run.
    Bottom line, Tell your grand kids to smile and tell the stupid democrats in office to stick it.

  • Crypt Keeper March 28, 2014 at 8:37 am

    ah, the debt of trillions like standing watching a tsunami bearing down on your beach chair. There is no road back from the ‘crypt’. (lol)
    They will keep printing money till the money isn’t worth anything ,anymore. Teach
    your children to get ready ,they will need to be survivors.

  • Bub March 28, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Right-wing nuts have no problem when a republican wants to spend us trillions into wars and give huge tax subsidies to the likes of Walmart and Chevron/Exxon, but when the black man in office wants to get the regular folks some health insurance they just flip out and crap their own pants in a fit of rage. Can one of you explain it to me?

    • DoubleTap March 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      That would be a HALF black man. Maybe you could explain to us why this HALF black man continues to give billions to the Muslim Brotherhood who only want to kill Americans…both right wingers and liberals.

      • Bender April 1, 2014 at 9:21 am

        Whoop, whoop. Lead poisoning alert. DOUBLETAP has been chewing on his ammo at night while he fondles his firearms. Someone call the am-boo-lance.

  • JAR March 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    BUB,
    You said Walmart right? Straight out of your union handbook I presume. And when the humble, stupid black man, currently in office, says ‘If you like your current insurance or want to pay $2500 less a year, You can count on me.
    Kool Aid anyone?

  • Bub March 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    …and they were all so strangely quiet during the reckless spending of king bush jr. Obama at least tried to put forth a plan get folks on health care. He didn’t get the ideal version of the ACC because of lobbyist meddling and having to coddle drug and insurance companies and mostly republican bs obstruction. What has the right-wing done to control health care costs or get people insured ever???! What has the rupublican party done for the average joe ever???

  • Bub March 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Anyways, can’t argue sense to the senseless… enjoy ur day friends 😀

  • Chris March 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Repudiation of the federal debt is highly unlikely and would have dire consequences for both the government and the economy. Although a majority of the debt is currently held by foreign entities, much of it is still held by American citizens and American financial institutions. Any repudiation would do great harm to these Americans. Moreover, China, who is our largest trading partner, holds large amounts of this debt, and a repudiation would do irreparable harm to an economic relationship that is essential to us. Finally, repudiating the debt would essentially close the credit markets to the federal government. While long term debt is not necessary if budgets are balanced, short term debt is essential to the operation of the federal government, just as it is to any large financial institution or corporation. Anyone who believes that repudiation would solve any problem is simply naïve and uninformed about the basic concepts of finance and of economics in general.

    • Bryan Hyde Bryan Hyde March 28, 2014 at 11:44 pm

      Binding future generations to debt slavery when they had no choice in the matter doesn’t seem like a very informed viewpoint either, Chris.The borrowing will stop at some point because it’s an untenable position. The question is whether it will be by choice or whether China or another lender will turn off the spigot. Kicking this can down the road will not work forever. Did you read Jefferson’s letter to Madison? Perhaps you could explain why his reasoning is faulty.

      • Bub March 29, 2014 at 12:08 am

        Hyde you need to do a little more reading into economic theory. Maybe look at a few other sources besides hard-right and libertarian…just sayin.

      • Roy J March 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        Yes, there are several distinct difficulties with Jefferson’s letter:
        -That ‘the earth belongs to the living’ is a principle of nature. Jefferson first posits this as a principle, then proceeds to equivocate upon it. ‘Living’ and ‘living generation’ are not univocal ideas, but Jefferson uses them interchangeably. Also, as a principle of nature, that the earth belongs to the living is not self evident. The meaning of this principle is also unclear, and is being drawn from philosophical conclusions are subject to dispute, though not within the realm of political science.
        -Again by this law of nature ‘one generation is to another as one independant nation is to another’. Jefferson attempts to demonstrate by means of birth and death statistics that only one generation at a time may have ownership of the earth. However, problems posited in political science are not reducible to mathematical answers, therefore Jefferson’s demonstration is not a demonstration at all. This is an equivocation par excellence.
        -Louis XV’s 19 year Same as Cash example: Jefferson is tacitly assuming that the younger generation spontaneously comes into being at the end of 19 years and also spontaneously comes into ownership of the earth. This example is both deceptive and problematic because it assumes in theory that which is otherwise in fact. For no generation of men succeeds one another in this way. That a generation of men with ownership is something held as a general idea in the mind, but does not correspond to any actual reality is obvious. Those with ownership of lands and goods are not of the same generation at the same time, anywhere, anywhen. The other generations, viz. children, young adults and grandparents, all receive benefits during this 19 year period. Jefferson’s example does not, as he hoped it would, support his idea by making it clearer. Rather, by ignoring, or marginalizing the plastic nature of human relations, and assuming all sciences (including political science) are finally reducible to mathematical demonstrations, Jefferson attempts to enforce a flimsy principle of nature that is nowhere self evident, and support it by pseudo-scientific demonstrations

        • Bryan Hyde Bryan Hyde March 29, 2014 at 2:07 pm

          It’s a moral principle, Roy. Your sophistry is magnificent, but you fail to debunk Jefferson’s basic premise that it is immoral to rob future generations by obligating them to pay for the debts you incurred. Perhaps you’d have tried to set George Washington straight on the matter too. He also wrote to Madison that same year and said: “No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.” You’re a smart cookie, Roy. But you’re not in the same league as these thinkers.

          • Roy J March 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

            It is not sophistry to refuse to accept Jefferson’s principle of nature as a premiss in political philosophy. It is pointing out that the argument lies in a subject which is higher, or prior to, in this case natural, philosophy, and prossibly in metaphysics. Also, regarding your statement about thinkers and leagues, let’s just remind you of what Etienne Gilson has to say on the matter; ‘Not having the genius of a Descartes does not require me, a mediocre thinker, to be bullied into making the same mistakes.’ I don’t claim to be on Jefferson’s level, but I don’t pretend to take my arguments from anyone except myself. People who claim a knowledge of classics and great books are obligated by honesty and fair play to do the same.

          • Bub March 31, 2014 at 7:25 pm

            Roy are you a cookie? I think Hyde just challenged you to a duel…

          • Bender April 1, 2014 at 9:29 am

            ROY J, I beg you not to subject yourself again to the intellectual firepower of a George Wythe University alumnus. These guys are packing knowledge that the rest of us could only hope to gain by listening to a book on tape on the way to the Las Vegas airport. Your bravery is noted but please don’t tangle with Bryan again.

  • BSMETER March 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I said it before. Get rid of the two party ‘members only clubs’ system. Then vote. Otherwise you are wasting your breath complaining.

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